eBay acquires the sneaker authentication business from partner Sneaker Con Digital

Online marketplace eBay is further investing in its sneaker business with today’s news that it’s acquiring Sneaker Con Digital’s authentication business, which verifies the authenticity of high-value footwear. The business has operations in the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia, and Germany, and had been previously working with eBay to vet the sneakers being bought and sold on its platform.

Sneakers have become a large category on eBay’s marketplace, where today there are over 1.9 million pairs available to buy every day.

In October 2020, eBay launched an “Authenticity Guarantee” service in partnership with Sneaker Con, whose team of experts would verify the sneakers at no cost to sellers before items were shipped to the buyers. If the buyer then returns the sneakers, the authenticators would inspect them again before they’re sent back to the seller. This multi-point inspection system involves checking various aspects of the shoes in question, including the sizing, labels, stitching, logos, heel tabs, laces, and more, and even the box itself.

When the shoes were verified, the left sneaker is given an NFC-enabled tag that provides more detailed information about the sneakers’ authenticity when scanned. Verifiable listings also receive a blue check mark next to the item. The service was available for any sneaker over $100 being sold on eBay’s platform.

Many buyers and sellers preferred to shop sneakers through eBay as they’d be able to see photos of the exact shoes they’d be getting, instead of stock photos, and there were fewer fees compared with some rival sneaker marketplaces. Attracting this kind of buyer is also part of eBay’s larger strategy to drive enthusiasts to its site across various high-end categories, like handbags, watches, and sneakers, then benefit as they shop more items on eBay. The company recently noted the average sneaker buyer on eBay spends approximately $2,000 in other categories, for example.

Ebay says its Authenticity Guarantee service led to quarter-over-quarter category growth and, in just over a year, it’s authenticated over 1.55 million sneakers worldwide.

In its Q3 2021 earnings, eBay also noted its U.S. sneaker business was healthy and growing at double-digit rates, and it was expanding to other markets, including Germany. The company additionally announced plans to invest in 3D image capability on sneaker listings that would allow buyers to interact with a 360-degree view of the item they’re purchasing, as another means of instilling buyer confidence.

With the acquisition, eBay is bringing its partnered authentication business in-house where it will continue to build on its offerings to accommodate resale market trends, the company said about today’s news. Deal terms were not disclosed.

However, the deal is only for Sneaker Con’s authentication business — its events business will continue to operate separately. The deal was signed and closed on November 24, 2021, notes eBay.

“eBay has always been a vibrant community of enthusiasts, with deeply knowledgeable buyers, sellers and employees,” said Jordan Sweetnam, SVP and General Manager of eBay North America, in a statement. “We partnered with Sneaker Con to launch sneaker authentication on eBay last year because the team shared our passion for the category – with best-in-class capabilities to deliver what our customers want most. The response to our authentication offering has been overwhelming, and this acquisition allows us to continue to transform eBay and bring a higher level of trust and confidence to every transaction,” he added.