CHINESE E-COMMERCE GIANT ALIBABA WILL ENSURE THE PRODUCTS IT SELLS ARE GENUINE USING TECHNOLOGY FROM ISRAELI START-UP VISUALEAD.
Counterfeiting is an ongoing major problem in China and the online marketplace only accentuated its spreading. As a matter of fact, Group Kering, which represents luxury brand like Yves Saint Laurent, Gucci or Balenciaga, filed a lawsuit in New York on the grounds that Alibaba is fully aware that counterfeit goods are being sold and it helps out to mislead costumers. The Hangzhou-based company is becoming a routine target for lawsuits alleging it facilitates fakes being sold knowingly while, in fact, it is claiming for cooperation instead of conflicting. Recently, Ni Lang, head of Internet security, gave a chance to the brands to cooperate with Alibaba instead of suing them, to cut down on counterfeits.
The also so-called “Chinese Amazon” is launching through partnerships a new range of QR-like codes to battle counterfeit goods. QR (Quick Response) codes are symbols hard to copy and puzzle-like bar codes that can be scanned and read by a smartphone camera or other special software. So far, we have used this QR codes as “shortcuts” to reach websites automatically and now, they are moving to an instant reply with which enables us to check the authenticity of the product.
Even if it is true that, apparently, retailers and trademark right holders will not be empowered by the referred technology to chase counterfeiters, is yet to be seen whether this alternative will success among costumers. For now, Alibaba is allowing, through its partnerships, the free use of this tool (called Blue Stars) and leading brands as L’Óreal and the chocolatier Ferrero started using these codes and created millions of unique Dotless Visual Codes to be printed in their product packages.
Alibaba’s solution is a firm commitment to innovation on counterfeit detection. These vibrant tracking codes, created by Visualed, are way different from the outdated traditional QR-Codes. Features included are the possibility to superimpose an image over the checkerboard, the scannable codes are dotless and the images are more clear and colourful. Thus, brands are able to embed their logos into the symbol code and make it more visually attractive to costumers by choosing among a great number of templates.
In this way, sellers will be able to create single and secure codes for each individual item and affix it on its label or package. Once the costumer has downloaded the shopping app of Taobao (one of the group’s e-commerce sites), it will just be necessary to scan the code and instantly, a virtual certificate will be displayed on the mobile screen to check its authenticity. What is more, the code can only be scanned once, which assures the costumer that the product that he is buying is genuine.
Alva Nevo, Visualed’s CEO, said that the partnership between Alibaba and Visualead could eventually lead to the codes being used for social networking, mobile payments or ticketing. Notwithstanding the cutting edge technologies, the design must include the proper elements of QR codes, the traditional programming rules and ensuring the camera will catch and read the code correctly.
The best-case scenario is that this new technology makes the brands entrust Alibaba the selling of their products, since the Chinese company invested millions in curbing counterfeiting. Moreover, Alibaba enjoyed a massive IPO last year in which it has seen shares slide significantly and the analysts are pointing counterfeiting as the primary concern.
See how the technology works here.
Josep Magraner Llobera