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Another Resale Platform Invests in Handbag Authentication Tools

Secondhand selling app Mercari has launched a new authentication tool that makes selling luxury handbags easier—and gives buyers some peace of mind.

On Tuesday, the resale platform announced the debut of Mercari Authenticate, a program that enlists third-party professionals to verify designer bags that cost $300 and up.

For $15, the app’s users can have their premium totes and satchels verified within a 48-hour time frame—and the process doesn’t require shipping the products for inspection. Using in-app photos and other data like serial numbers, authenticators are able to assess and award green-lighted items with a diamond badge, signifying their legitimacy on the platform.

“The surging popularity of resale in the U.S. is bringing a wave of luxury goods to platforms like Mercari, and buyers’ need for trust understandably increases with an item’s price,” Mercari U.S. CEO John Lagerling.

“Until now, though, authentication has been slow and expensive. Mercari Authenticate makes the process much easier, opening it up to novice or occasional sellers,” he added.

As online reselling platforms continue their ascent in popularity, one of the only factors that threatens to stymie growth is consumer concern about authenticity. Popular luxury consignment e-shop The RealReal faced the music on that front last month, when revelations about the company’s less-than-stringent verification processes made headline news.

The missteps make for increased scrutiny, and luxury resale marketplaces are leaning on a combination of AI tools and human eyes to determine whether products put up for sale are real.

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Rebag’s Clair program, which launched in November, offers sellers an instant appraisal of their luxury bags using a process of photo and data assessment. The company buys the products from sellers outright after the goods are mailed to its offices for a final inspection by in-house authenticators.

When shelling out for designer duds and accessories, consumers don’t want to feel like they’re gambling. And for sellers simply trying to unload pricey, unwanted bags from their closet, the process can be frustrating, if not fruitless, without some degree of certification.

While Mercari Authenticate has yet to be tried and tested by the platform’s users for effectiveness, Mercari sellers earn 90 percent of any item’s selling price, where other marketplaces and consignment operations usually offer 60 percent or less. The company is waiving the $15 authentication fee during the holiday season, according to its website.

Lagerling anticipates that the program will take off, enabling the platform to expand its efforts.

“Mercari Authenticate today is for handbags, and we expect our low fee and quick turnaround will attract more sellers of pre-owned designer handbags,” he said. “Longer term, Mercari has a vision for authentication across more categories, which our sellers are helping us define.”