- EBay on Wednesday said it is expanding its eBay Authenticate program to luxury watches, where thousands of high-end timepieces including Rolex, Patek Philippe, Omega, Audemars Piguet, Breitling and Panerai will be verified by professional authenticators, according to a press release emailed to Retail Dive.
- The authentication program was first unveiled last year, but was limited until now to luxury handbags.
- Separately, eBay and ESPN on Tuesday announced that ESPN.com is improving discovery of eBay's sports equipment, fashion apparel, memorabilia and collectibles assortment on web and mobile. EBay's marketplace features the only sellers of such items through ESPN's sites.
For years, upscale brands have complained about the plethora of knockoffs of their best sellers sold via digital marketplaces like eBay, Alibaba's Taobao and Amazon. And while all those players have long promised that they're cracking down on the practice, which has flourished with the rise of e-commerce, it's taken second-hand site The RealReal to make real strides in authentication.
Founded in 2011, The RealReal claims to provide the largest selection of pre-owned, authenticated, luxury items — including women's and men's fashion, fine jewelry, watches, fine art and home goods. And, probably thanks at least in part to its authentication, upscale brands appear to be welcoming the site. Kering, the parent company of upscale brands Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent and others, told analysts that they're actively working with The RealReal on merchandising, as opposed to looking askance at shoppers' ability to find second-hand items there.
So-called "re-commerce" upstarts are growing 20 times faster than the broader retail market and five times faster than off-price retailers, which offer a similar treasure hunt, according to Coresight Research released last year. Clothing, shoes and accessories currently make up 49% of total U.S. resale sales, Coresight said.
EBay simply can't afford to let The RealReal continue to corner the luxury end of the market, making authentication imperative, considering that it boasts it has "the largest selection of luxury goods - from rare and designer handbags to fine wristwatches," according to a statement from James Hendy, senior director of eBay Authenticate.
But the marketplace may have to extend that further, including to at least some of the assortment offered via ESPN, which includes memorabilia and collectibles. Authentication has emerged as a key way to protect higher prices in luxury resale, which also includes sneaker sales. Specialty sneaker retailer Stadium Goods, for example, which has the backing of LVMH's investment arm and has tied up with Farfetch, diligently authenticates its valuable second-hand shoes.