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eBay Takes on Goat with New Sneaker Authenticity Guarantee

Re-commerce is growing into an increasingly lucrative business, and one of the industry’s longest-standing players is making moves to ensure the authenticity of its offerings.

Online marketplace eBay has come a long way since its 1995 beginning as an auction site. Now, it serves as a platform offering peer-to-peer sales of just about everything. In a bid (pun intended) to compete with fashion-focused newcomers like The RealReal and Goat, which traffic in high-value luxury items, streetwear and limited-edition sneakers, eBay is stepping up its efforts to vet the products sold on its site.

On Monday, the Silicon Valley tech giant announced the expansion of its Authenticity Guarantee program—which launched in September for every watch sold over $2,000—to cover all new and pre-owned collectible sneakers sold for over $100 in the U.S.

Ebay says a sneaker is sold every 1.5 seconds on its platform—a testament to the category’s continued relevance to American shoppers. Beginning in October, the most popular sneaker brands and styles will be fully vetted and verified by a team of industry experts. Those efforts will ramp up to include all sneakers over $100 by early 2021.

The company has also canceled selling fees on any sneaker purchase of over $100, with the goal of attracting more top sneaker sellers from around the web. On rival site Goat, by contrast, the fee for U.S sellers is $5, plus a 9.5 percent commission fee that is charged to the seller after a shoe is purchased.

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All sneaker styles sold in the U.S. for over $100 will be vetted by third-party authenticators.

Authentication has become an expectation for today’s consumers in categories of high passion and high value,” said Jordan Sweetnam, senior vice president and general manager of eBay North America. “eBay operates the world’s most diverse sneaker marketplace—with the widest selection and best prices—and by removing any uncertainty with the buying process, our community can buy and sell with total confidence.”

When an eBay user purchases a pair of kicks, the seller ships them directly to the company’s third-party authentication partner for a “comprehensive, multi-point physical inspection.” The process involves ensuring consistency between the seller’s listing—title, description and images—and the real product, along with its box and any accompanying accessories. Following the assessment, the shoes are dispatched to the customer via expedited shipping directly from that location, adorned with an eBay tag to indicate that they have been verified.

eBay has partnered with Sneaker Con, a leading sneaker event company, on creating the new authentication facility, along with a checklist of product specifications and processes designed to ensure accurate vetting.

The program also offers some benefits and protections to sellers. For those who choose to offer returns if a customer is unsatisfied with their purchase, the authentication program ensures that the shoes are returned in exactly the same condition.

A quick look at eBay’s sneaker stats indicates that the platform has its work cut out for it. According to company data, there are more than 500,000 sneakers listed on the site each day, making them one of the top sales categories. In 2019, eBay sold nearly six million pairs in North America alone.

And the company is only hoping to grow those numbers through its authentication efforts, according to Sweetman. “This program makes eBay the most attractive platform for enthusiasts in these categories,” he said.