Foot Locker and Finish Line fight sneaker bots with new shopping system

Finish Line’s “Exclusive Access” works similar to Nike’s.

Foot Locker and Finish Line have both trotted out new defenses against the greatest menace in sneakers: bots. The two competing retailers have each introduced new release methods intended to make purchasing sneakers easier for the average person and block out the bots resellers use in order to take advantage of the system.

Today, Finish Line launches an “Exclusive Access” model similar to the one Nike introduced for its Off-White “The 50” Dunk Low collection. Under the new system, members of Finish Line’ Status loyalty program will receive a notification when they’ve been granted access to purchase a high-profile sneaker. Who gets access is determined by what the company is calling “Botfree Technology,” an algorithm of 33 data points that includes completing your profile, shopping online or at Finish Line's physical stores, and engaging with content on the website and app.

Through this model, there’s no mad virtual dash to complete the purchase of a highly sought-after sneaker. Instead, Finish Line’s most active users will be rewarded with a more clear path to acquiring the kicks they so desire — and, ostensibly, without any bots getting in the way.

Footlocker’s new reservation system — Foot Locker and its network of retailers, which includes Champs Sports and Footaction, will soon launch a new reservation system that doesn’t mark as robust of a change. The model is more or less like what we’ve already come to expect, with users able to submit an entry to purchase hyped sneakers. Would-be customers will, however, will be able to increase their odds through “Head Starts,” which involves exchanging points accumulated through Foot Locker’s own loyalty system.

How Foot Locker and its other retailers are combatting bots is less clear than Finish Line’s new measures, although the “Head Start” system should provide a modest boost for the average customers. Critics will say that both companies’ are still utilizing a lottery system, only with Finish Line determining the winners without requiring an explicit entry.

We’ll have to wait to see if releases feel more fair under the new systems, but any change should be welcomed when the status quo is so dispiriting.