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Internal Nike Documents Show Retailers’ Rules For Releasing Sneakers

Retailers that carry Nike products, especially the most sought-after releases, often follow similar guidelines regarding the release method for these sneakers. Even still, some retailers conduct raffles, release items first-come-first-served, or, will require customers to purchase item bundles in order to secure a coveted sneaker. However, leaked documents that have made it online courtesy of Complex showcase updates to Nike’s policy on what these retailers are and aren’t allowed to do for releasing Nike products.

While many of these rules have been in place for some time, this is the first time all of this information has publicly come to light with some of the most noteworthy policies spelled out below.

High Heat Releases vs. General Releases

When it comes to releases, Nike classifies the more sought-after sneakers as “High Heat” releases, like a collaboration or SPs, that are “particularly scarce or highly coveted by consumers.” At the same time, a “General Release” is a product that is “common and widely distributed.” When it comes to high-heat products, Nike’s policy says that these products shouldn’t be sold on a first-come-first-served basis like many of the general release products are unless the store cannot launch the product through a random drawing.

Drawings for High Heat Releases

We’re all used to sneaker raffles at this point and Nike’s policy is the reason why these have become so commonplace as it states these drawings are the preferred method of giving consumers a fair chance at securing products. The types of drawings are as follows: online drawings in which the winner purchases in-store, an in-store drawing in which the winner purchases in-store, or an online drawing where the winner purchases online if online distribution is authorized by Nike. However, if the product cannot be raffled off for whatever reason, the release must not take place before 10:00 AM EST on the “Launch Date.”

Stores Are Not Allowed To Charge For Raffle Entries

In the past, we covered retailers like Drifthouse and CCS as well as platforms like Copdate charging consumers for increased raffle entries and it seems Nike’s policy now (or has always) protected the consumer against this. According to Brendan Dunne from Complex, “Nike retail partners are prohibited from selling tickets or entries to drawings for launch product,” however, charity raffles are allowed if the store has received written approval from Nike prior to the drawing period.

Something we have also seen from some retailers is making customers purchase other products (whether that be sneakers, apparel, or a certain value of a mixture of both) in order to secure a release after they have “won” a drawing. The good news is that Nike explicitly states that stores cannot bundle launch products with other items and require customers to buy other products in order to secure the W.

Policy Against Selling to Resellers and Bots

Nike’s stance against resellers has become quite clear in the last year with the company banning an individual from purchasing Dunks from the company as well as updating its terms of sale to directly target those trying to game the system in order to make a profit off of Nike's product. Now, retailers are explicitly told not to sell products to “commercial resellers,” though how exactly they are meant to deter this isn’t spelled out.

Bots are also mentioned in this new policy update with Nike stating retailers that sell high heat launch products online “must have commercially reasonable bot deterrence measures in place” and give the Nike SNKRS App as an example of the standard required for bot deterrence. As stated directly in the document,

“Bot deterrence services should be activated to block suspicious drawing entries and purchases from individual accounts or user profiles as well as individual or multiple accounts/user profiles that are associated with suspicious delivery addresses, IP addresses, or suspect or fraudulent forms of payment.”

Our Take

Nike’s guidelines surrounding the release of the most limited products they offer come from a place of good faith. However, it seems that some retailers in the past (and likely going forward) were able to skirt around these rules even with Nike stating that failure to comply could result in The Swoosh “canceling or adjusting orders, managing product allocations, and outright closing accounts.” It is possible that we see a change in how certain retailers conduct raffles/releases going forward, though only time will tell. For more updates on the latest happenings in the sneaker and streetwear world, keep it locked to our Twitter and the Sole Retriever mobile app.


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