Mercari is still a relatively small player in the U.S. resale market at over 2.5 million monthly active users, but it’s still after the loot that is luxury handbags, launching its “Authenticate” service today.
Instead of opting for in-house authenticators like luxury handbag reseller Rebag, which launched its “Clair” pricing appraisal tool this fall, or The RealReal, which came under fire after a CNBC investigation on the company’s, since restated, “no fakes” pledge, Mercari’s U.S. chief executive officer, John Lagerling, finds that it wanted to go the third-party route.
Working with a San Francisco-based company called Real Authentication means there is “no incentive to approve or decline the item,” (no quotas, rather a queue of items) providing confidence in authenticity in 85 percent of the items it sees, with the rest maintaining “inconclusive” at first appraisal. This is based on 5,000 items that have run through Mercari’s Authenticate system already.
The other differentiator in Mercari’s service that Lagerling shares is that it does not require sellers to send in their goods, but instead requires customers to simply take pictures through the Mercari app and get an appraisal in up to 48 hours. The service comes at a $15 fee but the company only takes 10 percent of the commission of the sold price. When WWD asked if images could be faked, Lagerling said images have to be taken within the app and are processed in an encrypted fashion.
A recent report by WWD found some consumers are satisfied with buying fakes. But as the competition between resale marketplaces and peer-to-peer selling apps increases, authentication services — and the trust they command — will be guided by the “no fakes” promise, whether stated or implied.
The timing seems right for Mercari. “For 2020, in general, the first quarter for the year is really crucial for us, especially January as well as February and March,” said Lagerling, who described “our holiday season” as the “big time for resellers,” that trails the holiday season of traditional retail.
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