How Nike's SNKRS App Is Changing the Shoe-Drop Game for the Better

Ron Faris explains how AR technology is leveling the playing field.


The Nike 'swoosh' logo is displayed on the outside of the Nike SoHo store, June 15, 2017 in New York City. Nike announced plans on Thursday to cut about 2 percent of its global workforce.


When Nike launched its SNKRS app in 2015, it seemed the primary goal was to level the playing field among sneakerheads, resellers, and those inescapable, annoying bots. The app provided exclusive access to Nike content, and abbreviated the checkout process by storing users’ billing, shipping, and sizing info; this, of course, increased sneakerheads’ chances of copping a hyped model before it flew off the shelves.

Since its debut, SNKRS has never abandoned its original goal. The company has consistently rolled out a wide range of new features that not only uphold the commitment to fairness, but have also turned the sneaker drop into a fun high-tech game.

We got our first taste of this unique shopping experience in early 2017, when Nike released the Royal Foamposite. Though there was no formal announcement, those with SNKRS soon realized they could get early access to the Foamposite by digitally drawing on the shoe via the app. Once the users ran their finger over the image, they unlocked a hidden page that allowed them to purchase the model before its official release.

“I think we at Nike take an approach where we really seek to understand the psychology of the sneaker fanatic,” Ron Faris, the GM of Nike’s NYC digital studio and the SNKRS app, told Highsnobiety. “And one of the things we learned early on was that for many of the most fanatical sneakerheads, how they cop the shoe is almost as important as the shoe itself.”

For its surprise release of Virgil Abloh’s Air Force 1 Low last fall, Nike introduced an AR scavenger hunt in various cities across the world. SNKRS Stash, one of the main features on the app, has been widely compared to Pokémon Go, as it prompts users to visit a certain location during a limited timeframe. Once the individual is at the location, he/she must hold up the AR camera to a specific image at the designated spot; after the app recognizes the image, it unlocked the particular shoe model for early purchase.

Nike used similar AR technology for the release of its collaboration with celebrity chef David Chang. And, according to Faris, the brand intends to expand this high-tech shopping experience in the near future.

“We’ve been playing a lot with geolocation, and through our feature called Stash, which we’ve been doing all through Europe as well, we can digitally bury product anywhere on the planet,” Faris said. “It’s a great way to story-tell on behalf of the designer we may be working with when there was a place of inspiration that was really meaningful to him or her. And then we can digitally bury the shoes and have the fans come and show up as a community at those locations.”

You can read Faris’ full interview at Highsnobiety.