What is a sneaker proxy?

A picture of a sneaker.
(Image credit: Pixabay)

Whenever something is in shorter supply, it inevitably becomes human nature that folks want it more, and in some cases, a lot more. Hence why auctions for items are popular, and folks are willing to pay a premium for whatever the item is, whether it is a piece of artwork by a famous artist, a limited edition sports car, or even fashionable footwear, such as a sneaker. 

Yes, even a sneaker can become a highly sought after item, going beyond just a foot covering to the level of a collectible, such as versions of the Air Jordan 11 Bred, or the Reebok “Shaqnosis.” With competition so fierce for these limited edition sneakers, folks have employed advanced tactics to attempt to buy them, hence the use of the term “Sneaker proxy.”

Also of note, the term “Sneaker proxy” should not be confused with the other occasion that the word sneaker gets used in computing, namely the “Sneakernet.” The latter actually has nothing to do with a sneaker proxy, but is an older term that refers to using a removable media, such as a USB flash drive or magnetic tape, and then walking around between computers to plug in the drive to transfer the information.

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What is a proxy? 

Getting back to basics, let’s look at what a proxy is when online. Whenever a user is online, they get assigned an Internet Protocol (IP) Address, which is why being online is not anonymous as it can be easily tracked. The IP Address is assigned by your internet provider.

A proxy can be from a data center, or a residential proxy, with the latter appearing as an individual user.

Ok, so what’s a sneaker proxy?

The “Secret sauce” of a sneaker proxy is that it uses an intermediary proxy, which routes the traffic between the user, and the site they are visiting. So far, this is like any VPN, which serves to anonymize the traffic, and any IP tracking leads back to the server of the intermediary proxy, and not directly to the user.

With a VPN, you get a single IP address on the server for the session once it gets established. Better sneaker proxies have many, like in the millions, number of residential proxies, that a sneaker company will accept as an authentic user, rather than bulk data center addresses.

Furthermore, often with a sneaker proxy, the user specifically gets a rotating proxy. This means that each time you reconnect to the site, such as Nike to buy the next pair of sneakers, another IP Address gets assigned, so that you cannot be tracked or blocked as it keeps changing. This allows the user to then be able to purchase the next pair of sneakers.

Tearing down walls 

When a future classic gets announced, the collectors come up with ways to purchase these limited edition sneakers. Often, the potential buyer has to bypass restrictions that the major sneaker companies put on these buyers. The first restriction is that there may be a geo-restriction, such that they only want to sell to a buyer in a certain part of the world or a specific country. By providing a proxy in this region or country, this limitation can be overcome.

The next issue is that serious buyers often want to purchase more than a single pair of sneakers, whether for multiple family members for example, or to have a pair to keep, and multiple additional pairs to sell, hopefully for a profit. However, the seller will keep track of the proxy and block the additional sales beyond the first one as they don’t want bulk sales of these limited edition sneakers. With a sneaker proxy, additional proxies will be available, so that multiples of the same item can be purchased, and therefore bypassing this restriction.

The last barrier is a speed and efficiency one. As anyone who has bought anything online knows, it is a process, and takes time to locate the item, place it in the cart, and then checkout, putting the shipping and payment info in. For items in high demand, it can certainly happen that while going through this process, the item sells out before the transaction is complete. This issue gets bypassed as the sneaker proxy can be configured for an automated checkout process. This is also useful so the user does not have to be online, in front of the computer exactly at the precise time when the item goes on sale. This last feature is called a ‘Sneaker bot.’

In summary… 

Purchasing a limited edition pair of sneakers, directly from a manufacturer has become a complicated process, with multiple challenges, and barriers to be bypassed. With the right sneaker proxy, the process is simplified, and the chance of getting the pair that you want, before it is sold out, is dramatically higher with the odds in your favor.  

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Jonas P. DeMuro

Jonas P. DeMuro is a freelance reviewer covering wireless networking hardware.