Nike uses an array of techniques to thwart bots from obtaining its most coveted drops, and it’s go-to platform is its SNKRS app where it employs a few different methods to enable everyday sneaker lovers greater access to its shoes.
This tutorial is designed to help first-time U.S.-based Nike sneaker lovers who are attempting to cop a shoe via a SNKRS reservation or draw, but have no idea how either works. SNKRS is used to sell Nike shoes, but also Nike brands Converse and Jordan.
Be sure to open SNKRS a solid five minutes before the actual launch because it can be slow to load. The app is compatible with either Apple or Android smart phones. If it’s been a while since you last used SNKRS, provide time to make sure your size and payment info is saved.
A lot of sneaker enthusiasts will attempt to win pairs using SNKRS on their desktop, laptop, tablet and smartphone at the same time, but in order to do this you will need separate delivery addresses, email addresses and payment methods for each one. There are a whole host of other methods people attempt to use to game Nike’s system but we will not be reporting on them here.
Navigating Nike’s SNKRS App
Before the drop, start by downloading the SNKRS app (called SNEAKRS in Europe) and set up your Nike+ account. The app opens on the home screen (shown above), which shows “Feed,” “In Stock” and “Upcoming” at the top of the app. “Feed” coverage includes background on highlighted silhouettes as well as brand partnerships and events. “In Stock” lists shoes currently available for purchase. Just like it states, the “Upcoming” tab shows a list of coming launch-date shoes.
On the bottom of the home page to the right of the “Home” icon, the “Discover” icon opens a feed with additional Nike-related stories, ranging from employee profiles to info on city-specific SNKRS Pass launches. To the right of “Discover” is “Notifications” where Nike delivers info on whether or not you won (“Got ‘Em!) the shoe you were attempting to cop. It also includes information on placed orders.
How to Create a SNKRS Profile
The “Profile” icon is located to the right of “Notifications.” Touch the icon and then touch the gear icon in the upper right-hand corner. Enter your first name, last name and email, followed by your gender and shoe size. If you want to be extra fancy, you can load a profile picture but it’s not required and you will have to grant Nike access to your phone’s images to do so.
Once you’ve loaded your info, the profile home page will show your name and a rectangle in the middle of the page that reads “Nike + Pass.” When you touch the icon, it will bring up your personal QR (Quick Response) code, which is required to pick up certain types of launches. At times, Nike also uses the QR code to access special events and activities in its stores and at other locations.
Load a payment method (Visa, Mastercard, Discover, American Express, Nike gift cards, Paypal and Apple Pay on iOS devices) along with your billing and shipping address. Also load your gender and shoe size, both of which can be saved on the home screen using the filter icon on the top right of the screen. In SNKRS notification preferences, enable notifications and then choose the timing of your preference: one week, one day or 15 minutes before the launch.
Nike’s upcoming SNKRS feed includes a “Notify Me” button, which you can use to stay on top of launch-day product. A lot of the shoes you see in the feed are first-come-first served aka FCFS launches, which means once it goes live and the button changes to “Buy Now,” whoever is able to purchase the shoes first, takes them home.
Types of SNKRS Launches
1. Reserve Launch: SNKRS can be used on any device but if the launch is a “Reserve” requiring an in-store pick up, you will need to use a device that allows your location to be accessible. “Reserve” launches are FCFS so it’s a big help if your location is turned on and you have your size and payment pre-loaded and ready to go as soon as the drop is live.
Nike began using a SNKRS “Reserve” system in 2015 (starting with a Jordan 1 silhouette) for its very coveted launches. For store pick-up “Reserve” launches (more info from nike.com here), the icon at launch time will change from “Notify Me” to “Reserve.” In order to be considered, your phone’s location will need to be turned on. Push the “Reserve” icon and then choose a nearby pick-up location. Some but not all “Reserve” drops offer the option of shipping.
2. SNKRS Pass is a location-specific launch for a select city or group of cities, which at the moment are mostly limited to Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles or New York. Nike will often employ this type of launch in association with very limited edition, sometimes referred to as “Friends & Family” launches, which are then followed up by a wider launch of the same shoe. Often this type of launch is announced with little warning akin to a “Shock Drop” (see below).
If the shoe is an in-store, pick up drop, Nike will process the payment and let you know details on when/where to pick up in “Notifications.” In order to take the shoes home, you will need to show your SNKRS QR code plus provide official photo identification that matches your winning SNKRS account.
If you missed out on a “Reserve” launch, sometimes it pays to visit the store stocking the shoe because pairs that aren’t picked up after a certain time are made available to purchase FCFS.
3. Draw Launch is a sytstem that makes use of a timed entry system. When the launch goes live, the icon changes from “Notify me” to “Enter Draw.” Nike will provide a countdown clock showing anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour to hit the reserve icon. If you haven’t saved your sizing and payment info, you will be asked to provide that. You may only enter a reserve draw once. If you attempt it a second time with the same account, you will be informed you’ve already entered. Once the “Draw” ends, according to Nike you will be notified within 24 hours (though it’s usually within an hour or two) whether or not you were selected to purchase the shoe. Nike will then process the payment and send you a notification through the app about when you can expect to receive the shoe.
4. Shock Drop: Nike will often surprise drop its most coveted launches prior to a previously-stated, official launch date. It will also “Shock Drop” shoes that aren’t included in its “Upcoming” calendar. Just know that Nike’s default launch posture is secretive to the extreme and it won’t confirm or deny any rumors about upcoming “Shock Drop” launches. Until the drop is announced on an official Nike social media platform, in Nike’s eyes it simply doesn’t exist.
To stay on top of coveted drops, there are numerous Twitter accounts that will notify you of “Shock Drops.” Two of them even have their own apps: @solelinks and @j23app. You can also follow Nike’s @nikestore account but be aware it doesn’t announce every single launch.
5. Secret Shock Drop: Once in a great while, Nike will “Shock Drop” a shoe that can only be accessed by completing a task. In the case of Nike x Off-White x Serena Williams’ “Shock Drop,” the silhouette was featured in the app’s “Discover” feed with a “Behind the Shoe” story. In order to cop the shoe, the user had to rub an image featuring a blank version of Off-White’s signature plastic hang tag (above left) to make the copy appear. Once the copy appeared, the user was granted access to purchase the shoe.
Keep in mind that the SNKRS app is far from perfect. It can be glitchy and if you visit the @nikestore feed you can see it’s filled with people complaining about usage issues. Most of the time Nike recommends signing out and signing back in or reinstalling the app. If you’re still having problems and there is stock available, you can also call 800-806-6453 from 4:00 AM-11:00 PM PST seven days a week.
As well, Nike constantly adds in twists and turns so six months from now a lot of this could be different. In the meantime, may the W gods be with you!