Alibaba Pitches Big Data to Win Over Brands Worried About Fakes

  • Chinese online marketplace says it’s an ally, not a foe
  • Anti-counterfeit group suspended company’s membership

Alibaba Using Tech, Big Data to Fight Fakes

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. pleaded its case to hundreds of members of an anti-counterfeit group that the company has the data, technology and desire to help keep fake brands off its online marketplaces.

Company president Michael Evans addressed the International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition in Orlando Thursday a week after the group abruptly suspended the Chinese Internet giant’s membership, amid questions regarding conflicts of interest involving the coalition’s president and complaints from some members. Alibaba only joined the IACC in April, after the group created a new membership category for the online retailer.

QuickTake Alibaba

“We believe the future of Alibaba -- and the future of many of your companies -- will depend on us working closely together to fight counterfeits,” Evans said in prepared remarks.

IACC members include prominent brands such as Apple Inc., Nike, Calvin Klein and Procter & Gamble, which Alibaba is courting to help boost sales of global brands to Chinese shoppers.

In a closed-door meeting at the group’s spring conference, Evans shared new details about how Alibaba has used data culled from its marketplace, which serves 400 million shoppers and 10 million businesses, to identify suspected makers and sellers of fake products.

Arrests, Confiscation

Alibaba’s collaboration with Chinese law enforcement in 2015 resulted in the arrest of 300 people, the destruction of 46 places where counterfeits are made and the confiscation of $125 million in worth of products, Evans told the group.

Alibaba wants global brands to see its marketplaces as a gateway to Chinese customers rather than a place where counterfeits flourish. Convincing those brands that Alibaba can be a powerful ally in fighting fakes -- not a foe enabling them -- is a critical part of its strategy. Evans highlighted Alibaba’s data as a key link to help brands fight fraud.

The company spent more than $15 million in 2015 buying merchandise on its marketplace suspected of being fake and used its payments division Alipay to freeze accounts of those suspected of selling counterfeit goods, Evans said. The company froze $72 million in accounts and refunded $12 million to customers last year, he said.

"We have the scale, we have the data and we have the commitment to be a global leader in anti-counterfeiting," Evans told the group.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.
LEARN MORE