Since 1999, Goodwill has raised $560 million selling donated apparel, home goods, art, furniture and more through its e-commerce site shopgoodwill.com, the proceeds of which benefit programs and services for differently abled people and those facing other challenges. But with counterfeiting of designer wares on the rise, the nonprofit group found it needed a reliable solution that could assure customers the luxury handbags auctioned off through the site were, in fact, authentic merchandise from high-end brands and not low-quality imitations.
Globally, counterfeiting represents a $98 billion headache across channels for luxury goods, and the Internet alone—with its plethora of fly-by-night luxury-lookalike websites—accounted for $30.3 billion of knockoffs in 2017, according to the Global Brand Counterfeiting Report 2018.
A number of online businesses sprang up in the wake of the Great Recession to serve the red-hot luxury resale market, putting their authentication credentials front and center to help minimize the stigma of shopping for pre-owned goods. The RealReal and Vestiaire Collective are among the best-known brands selling secondhand luxury to customers in search of a bargain.
Recently, Goodwill identified the need to give customers peace of mind when they bid on sought-after brand goods from household luxury names and partnered with Entrupy, a tech firm employing artificial intelligence, via sophisticated machine learning algorithms and computer vision, to stop fakes from passing off as the real deal. The technology authenticates top luxury brands ranging from Balenciaga to YSL against a database of millions of references images. Entrupy said it plans to expand to categories beyond handbags in the first quarter of 2019.
”Over the years, shopgoodwill.com has benefited from our local community’s generous donations of high-end items,” Ryan Smith, senior director online operations at shopgoodwill.com, said in a statement. “At the same time, we’ve witnessed ‘Caveat Emptor’ first hand, and that skepticism keeps us from maximizing the full value of that generosity.”
The Entrupy scanner device captures photos of a handbag’s surface, sending them via Wi-Fi to an iOS app that, within seconds, confirms or rejects the item’s authenticity with 99.1 percent accuracy. It also generates a certificate endorsing the item’s legitimacy. “With the Entrupy Certificate of Authenticity, shoppers can feel confident about their transaction and great about themselves, because their purchase benefits the Goodwill mission to change lives through the power of work,” Smith added.