EBay on Tuesday introduced its "Authenticity Guarantee" program to inspect and verify watches sold for $2,000 or more. The platform is also introducing new payment services and content experiences via its app, according to a company press release.
As part of its new program, the platform will denote verified items with an Authenticity Guarantee badge, inspect high-end items with the help of third-party authenticators and verify the item during the returns process, the company said.
Through the company's new escrow payment service, buyers purchasing watches for more than $10,000 can place funds in a secure escrow account until all the terms of the agreement are met. Luxury watch collectors can also view articles and other tailored content through eBay Channels.
Ebay's debut of new authentication services for luxury watches is a continuation of the platform's ongoing efforts to build trust with online buyers. In early August, the company teamed up with Prova Group to authenticate sports memorabilia sold through the site. For years, eBay and its marketplace competitors have fought fake goods on its platforms separately and together.
Luxury watches have been among eBay's top-selling categories, Tirath Kamdar, general manager of luxury at eBay, said in a statement. The company highlighted its inventory of brands like Omega, Patek Philippe, Rolex and Panerai. Now the company is reducing merchant fees by up to 35% for goods sold for more than $1,000 and 30% for goods sold for more than $2,000, a move that the company hopes will attract shoppers seeking items for better prices.
"We know trust is paramount among the watch community, and with Authenticity Guarantee and adding escrow services for watches, eBay has evolved to give watch customers exactly what they want — incredible selection with an added layer of confidence through authenticity verification by independent experts for their high-valued purchases," Kamdar said in a statement.
The timing of these features comes as the COVID-19 pandemic is encouraging consumers to shop online. But a March report from Red Points found that 68% of American consumers were concerned about knockoff or poor-quality products sold online due to the coronavirus pandemic. More than half of shoppers said they considered trustworthiness among their top online shopping criteria, the report found.
As eBay enlists third-party, brand-certified watchmakers and technicians to verify products, its competitor, Amazon, has taken a slightly different approach. In addition to piloting verification and counterfeit investigation processes, Amazon has also fought in court alongside brands like KF Beauty and Valentino against merchants accused of selling knockoffs.
Despite all these efforts, retailers and regulators are increasingly skeptical of these platforms' ability to provide safe, high-quality products to consumers. Amazon has recently faced scrutiny from lawmakers over its counterfeit problem. Meanwhile, retailers and brands like J.C. Penney, Birkenstock and Gap have teamed up to combat knockoff sales.