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StockX is shaking up the luxury goods market by innovating a new way to bring limited-edition, high-demand products—namely, exclusive sneakers—to consumers desperate to get their hands on the latest designs. Both designers and consumers may list the products they have available for sale or resale on the e-commerce platform. StockX then assigns each good a specific “stock” ticker symbol. In turn, users can easily find data about the item, such as recent sales figures anywhere on the Internet, price volatility for the item, and its 52-week high and low prices. Interested buyers then place a bid, and once the bid price and the asking price coincide, the StockX website makes the sale.

The creation of this new market represents a response to consumer demand for products that was not being sufficiently addressed by designers or retailers. Before StockX, potential buyers interested in limited-edition products had to camp out in front of stores or enter raffles for a chance to purchase the desired products. Access to scarce luxury goods was often limited to insiders. With StockX, all consumers have access to the goods available for sale on the site, and though the prices for many of the limited-edition items are high, StockX believes that its sales approach is more transparent and thus encourages fairer prices overall, because it tracks the price data carefully, then displays it to everyone and for each item.

Providing expanded access to luxury goods may initially put off some designers that pride themselves on brand scarcity and exclusivity. Yet StockX regards this gap ultimately as a minor trade-off for brands. For most of them, the potential for a vastly expanded customer base is worth alter their distribution and sales process.

Big companies such as Nike and Complex seem to agree; both have recently come on board—literally and figuratively. These new partnerships, as well as the growing user base for the platform, have required StockX to upscale its operations quickly, but the CEO and founder Josh Luber expresses confidence that StockX’s unique e-commerce platform is ready to handle the challenge. It plans to transform the way high-end apparel sales (and resales) take place in the digital space, for sneakers today, but potentially for various products in the future.

Discussion Questions:

  1. How is StockX different from other e-commerce sites?
  2. What is unique about StockX’s supply chain?

Source: Dan Hyman, “A Nasdaq for Sneakerheads? E-Commerce Site Aims to Tame ‘Chaos’ of Luxury Market,” The New York Times, July 6, 2018; Timothy J. Seppala, “Why Sneakerheads Are Leaving eBay for Detroit Startup StockX,” Engadget, February 16, 2018; StockX, https://stockx.com