Will QR codes put an end to counterfeit goods sold online?
These days QR codes are often regarded as a marketing fad of debatable usefulness and are sometimes even subject to mockery. (A well-known Tumblr page titled "Pictures of People Scanning QR-codes" features only the message, "No posts yet.") Alibaba, however, may have found a good use for the much-maligned configurations of squares, one the e-tailing giant hopes will help put an end to the pervasive problem of counterfeit goods being sold on its marketplace in China.
Alibaba has partnered with Visualead, creators of a more graphically appealing type of QR code called a dotless visual code, which can feature an image (or advertisement) while retaining its scanability. Alibaba is using these codes as the basis for its new tool, called "Blue Stars." The tool prints out individual dotless visual code labels meant to be affixed to packages as unique identifiers of the products inside.
Alibaba is partnering with brands like L’Oreal to apply the codes directly to products. When a customer orders a product made by L’Oreal through a merchant listed on Alibaba and receives the product, she can scan the code using Alibaba’s Taobao shopping app. The app will display a virtual certificate of the product’s authenticity. Other product information, including advertisements and promotions, can also be made to appear on-screen when a code is scanned.
The manufacturer can also track its own codes to monitor if they have been scanned by consumers and how many times. If someone attempts to create a duplicate of an original code, the manufacturer can receive information about the location of the attempted counterfeiter.
CNN Money reported that L’Oreal and other brands have already created millions of the labels for products sold in China.
Alibaba is currently allowing partnering companies to use the tool for free, according to Tech in Asia, thus they will be able to sell products with confirmed-authentic dotless visual codes even at non-Alibaba outlets.
Merchants will not, it appears, be empowered by the technology to go after counterfeiters if and when false products are scanned. Further, it is yet to be seen if customers will actually scan the codes and how useful the codes will be in stopping customers from intentionally purchasing cheap knockoffs of brand-name goods.
- Alibaba fights to kill off fakes ‘virus’ – CNN Money
- Alibaba-backed Visualead rolls out new dotless QR codes that aim to reduce counterfeiting – Tech in Asia
- Alibaba is using attractive QR codes so you can check if products are authentic – The Next Web
- China issues scathing report on Alibaba – CNN Money
Do you see potential in the use of visual dotless QR codes to stem the flow of counterfeit goods from Alibaba and other online marketplaces? Are there other ways brands can work with online marketplace operators to address the sale of counterfeit goods?