eBay takes on The RealReal and other fashion resellers with launch of authentication program

eBay is going after high-end clientele in search of luxury goods with today’s launch of eBay Authenticate, a new program that will allow sellers to opt in to have their goods verified as authentic. Initially, the service will focus on luxury handbags and wallets across 12 high-end brands, including Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Hermes, Gucci, Prada, Burberry, Dior, Fendi, Balenciaga, Goyard, Celine and Valentino.

The company had announced the forthcoming launch of eBay Authenticate back in January, saying that the service would arrive before “year-end.”

At the time, eBay explained there was a need for such a service because more customers are turning to online shopping to buy luxury pre-owned items, but are often hesitant to do so because of the potential for forgeries and knock-offs.

In addition, handbags are a particularly popular category on eBay’s site, where one is sold every 13 seconds in the U.S.

The move to offer its own authentication program also comes at a time when eBay is challenged by a number of e-commerce competitors which focus on pre-owned fashion apparel, handbags and accessories, like The RealReal, Tradesy, ThredUp and others. These startups have likely snagged a portion of eBay’s business, as most of the players in this space do authenticate the goods they sell, giving customers peace of mind that what they’re buying is the real deal.

eBay Authenticate, however, is optional for sellers. The service will allow sellers to list luxury handbags and wallets valued at over $500, then receive 80 percent of the final selling price.

At this rate, eBay is offering sellers a better commission than The RealReal, which uses a tiered structure where net sales of $1,500 or less have a 55 percent commission, and fine watches are over an 80 percent commission.

For a limited time ending January 31, 2018, eBay’s service will accept items valued at $250 or more, and give sellers 90 percent of the selling price. This will allow potential sellers to try out the service with more items, in order to see if it improves sales.

To use the service, sellers visit the eBay Authenticate website to start listing their item, then send in the handbag or wallet using the prepaid shipping label or drop it off at FedEx. The FedEx office will pack and ship the item to the experts for free, says eBay.

The item is then sent to eBay’s network of industry experts for verification. This “network” involves professional authenticators eBay has partnered with, not in-house employees. If the item is authentic, the experts will then photograph, list, sell and ship the handbag or other item to the buyer. (If the item is not authentic, it’s shipped back for free.)

The program is an expansion on eBay’s current anti-counterfeit measures, including detection tools, enforcement mechanisms, and its existing relationships with brands, retailers, and law enforcement. Its Verified Rights Owner program has been running since 1998, allowing over 40,000 rights owners a means of reporting possible counterfeit goods.

eBay Authenticate is available starting today for use by the marketplace’s consumer sellers. Business sellers will be able to access the service in the future.

The service will also expand to other categories next year. eBay had previously said this would include jewelry and watches.