How Bots Bested The $1 Billion Sneaker Resale Industry

by MR Magazine Staff

Srijan Sharma, a sophomore in high school from New Jersey, estimates that he’s made $50,000 reselling sneakers. But he couldn’t have done it without the help of bots. Last year, the U.S. athletic footwear industry generated $17.5 billion, according to the NDP Group, and its resale industry is estimated to be worth $1 billion. But what once resulted in days-long lines at local malls has today emerged as a global, internet competition for these coveted shoes, with thousands sitting at their computers and phones, often equipped with several bots. These controversial computer programs quickly perform constant iterations of tasks, from adding limited-release items to a cart to entering credit card information, thus bypassing slower, human customers and frustrating shoe sellers hoping to sell their products to real consumers. Once bot owners have completed their orders, they promptly resell the new shoes at a much higher price. Sharma started as a “Sneakerhead” – one of many fans who collect hard to find shoes like the Nike Air Jordan and Adidas Yeezy. Then he started reselling collectibles himself. After he proved the model to his parents, he began buying shoes in batches, usually one for himself, and then two or three to resell. Quickly, he moved to the internet, where he encountered bots, computer tools that automate the process of purchasing hard-to-get products like limited release sneakers. Sharma estimates he’s spent at least $2,000 on an assortment of bots to aid his business, and even more on proxies. For him, it’s been worth it. Sharma has over 4,000 followers on Twitter, all connected by a love of sneakers. He’s been profiled by Wharton as an example of stellar high school entrepreneurship, saved up money for college and is now preparing for an eventual transition into stock market trading. Read more at Forbes.