eBay Sneaker authentication just changed the game (we hope)

Today eBay announced a "sneaker authentication program" for the first time*. This system works with an "initial authentication by an independent team of industry experts," allowing some of the most valuable pieces of footwear to go through the auction process with an added layer of trust. This may well be a sign of things to come, with eBay gaining a new level of usership thanks to this layer of professionalism never available at eBay before.

In the past, eBay was largely a system based on trust. I started using eBay in the late 1990s, when the auction house was a wild west of oddities the likes of which have never been matched. Since then, the pop culture staple remains the go-to place to buy and sell anything (any legal thing) on the internet, auction style.

Over the years, eBay's been notorious for allowing the sale of some questionable products. Because eBay was the first, and the most massive, business of its sort, they often needed to make mistakes on their way to figuring out the best way to implement rules, regulations, and technical means to certain ends.

A very good example of how eBay grows was revealed today in their new sneaker authentication program. Because sneakers are a seemingly never-ending source of intrigue and value for collectors and investors alike, eBay took the opportunity to up their game.

The service launches this month with a team-up with SneakerCon. For the process, SneakerCon authenticators that "utilize a comprehensive checklist of product specifications" to confirm legitimacy and quality. This eBay Authenticator system confirms consistency with each product listing, conducts a physical inspection, and attaches a special eBay tag upon authentication.

This process works both ways. If a seller decides to offer returns, "the returned item goes through the authentication center to ensure the exact item sold is being returned to the seller in its original condition."

*While this is the first SNEAKER authentication process on eBay, the auction company recently launched a similar program for watches. In September of 2020, eBay launched authentication for all watches over $2000 USD. There've been eBay "Authenticate" systems in place in the past too – cross your fingers this 2020 pair of launches means they'll be launching more programs of this sort, taking authentication of all products (or just the ones that make sense to authenticate) in the near future!