Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba is working with 17 shoe manufacturers here to cultivate home-grown brands online after being criticised and even sued by luxury brand Gucci for facilitating the fake-goods trade.
Ni Liang, Alibaba’s senior director of internet security, said the scheme was a key anti-counterfeit initiative this year, which would help small manufacturers turn away from fakes and serve a legitimate sector.
In a three-day campaign, the shoe brands sold over 4 million pairs — or two every three seconds — worth 480 million yuan ($77.5 million), said Alibaba spokeswoman Crystal Liu.
The group plans to expand the model to other industries as well.
However, critics said the scheme was “misguided” and that Alibaba should instead focus on scrubbing its online marketplaces of widespread listings of fakes.
“It’s kind of unlikely to be successful because it’s not so easy just to create a brand out of nowhere,” said Shaun Rein, managing director at marketing firm CMR China.
“For Alibaba, the key is to make a show that they’re trying to crack down on fakes,” he added, noting the company takes a cut on all sales— fake or legitimate.
The American Apparel and Footwear Association, which has lobbied the US government to put pressure on Alibaba, said the company should focus on making it easier for brands to get listings of fake products taken off Alibaba websites.
AAFA executive vice-president Steve Lamar pointed out that the progress had been very slow.
But Ni held that Alibaba removed 12 million product listings last year following complaints from brands.
Meanwhile, there are others who feel that the business of making fakes won’t dry up anytime soon, despite Alibaba’s efforts. “If everyone could afford famous shoe brands, there wouldn’t be anyone making fakes,” said a businesswoman.