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How The RealReal Is Keeping Purloined Products Off its Platform

Luxury consignment marketplace The RealReal is getting tough on bad actors attempting to hawk stolen goods.

The site has joined forces with LeadsOnline, an online investigation service, to help track down criminals who traffic ill-gotten, high-priced goods.

Through the platform, law enforcement officers are offered a window into The RealReal’s inventory, including relevant details like product descriptions, serial numbers, images and the date and location of consignment. The program also offers law enforcement a direct line of communication with The RealReal, helping to streamline active investigations.

“Working with LeadsOnline to create national transparency around our inventory expands our ability to support law enforcement efforts to stop criminal traffickers of luxury goods,” said Rati Levesque, The RealReal’s chief operating officer.

The company purports to be the world’s largest online marketplace for authenticated, consigned luxury goods, touting a rigorous product vetting process that’s overseen by experts.

As secondhand commerce continues to grow as a viable retail channel, marketplaces like The RealReal have been forced to contend with inventory issues related to product authenticity.

Last fall, the Silicon Valley startup came under fire following revelations that its authentication processes were not run by the trained experts, as the company previously stated, but by employees without the proper credentials or training to verify luxury goods.

A CNBC report in November revealed that among 1,400 reviews of the site available online, top complaints included issues surrounding fakes, product damage and sub-par customer service.

Within days, CEO Julie Wainwright hit back with an open letter to buyers and consignors detailing the company’s authentication processes.

“An extensive set of data” serves as “the backbone of [The RealReal’s] authentication process,” Wainwright said. That data is leveraged to update algorithms “that route the highest risk products to [the company’s] most experienced authenticators, making sure that the riskiest products get the most scrutiny.”

The company recently opened a San Francisco flagship store, joining three other brick-and-mortar locations in New York City and Los Angeles. And late last month, The RealReal’s 2019 full-year financial report showed the company topped $1 billion in revenue last year, buoyed by a 40 percent bump in active users.