Sebastien Badault (Alibaba France): "Above all, we trust brands"
Alibaba has recently deployed new anti-counterfeiting measures and a website dedicated to luxury goods brands. The group's France General Manager, Sebastien Badault, talked to FashionNetwork.com about these initiatives and how Alibaba's relationship with brands is changing (the full interview is published in French on FashionNetwork Premium).
FashionNetwork.com: What is the objective of Alibaba's new anti-counterfeiting device, the 'IP Protection Platform', deployed this summer?
Sébastien Badault: This online platform can be accessed by brands and it actually is a project on which we have been working for a long time, and which we continue to refine. Its strength is that 1,100 brands are involved in the process. The first benefit for them is that, as soon as an alert on a product goes out, we immediately withdraw the product in question from the website, rather than, as was often the case before, asking the brand first to prove that it was an instance of counterfeiting. The onus is now on the vendor to prove that the product in question is authentic. Above all, we trust brands. And products are withdrawn more quickly. Counterfeiting still remains a genuine problem, but there now is a constructive dialogue in place between us and the brands.
FNW: Your competitor JD.com wants to differentiate by introducing more upmarket products. How do you feel about this?
SB: I know that in the near future JD.com will launch a website dedicated to luxury goods. But our own luxury goods website is already operational. In August, we launched Luxury Pavilion, a site dedicated to luxury brands, in China. It is a separate e-tail area within T-mall; only brands are allowed to sell there, and not distributors. As a consumer, if I buy a Burberry overcoat there, or products by Baccarat, Dior or Vuitton, I know I'm buying directly from the brand. The risk of buying a fake product is zero.
FNW: In your experience, is the brands' attitude towards Alibaba changing?
SB: Business with them has greatly accelerated, it's only logical. We have done much proselytising in the course of last year. Indeed, many brands were not aware they were able to sell on our website. This work has paid dividends. We managed to attract a large number of brands. And we are constantly refining our model. For example, a year ago I would have given the green light to certain names. Now that we are more experienced, we sometimes turn them down, explaining why to their management. Because some brands from, for example, France, are not ready for the Chinese market, both in terms of their understanding of local expectations and in terms of product range.
FNW: What is your target for the number of French brands present on the website?
SB: We have about 250 of them. I think we can easily double this number. Then, my priority will be to make sure that the brands that come to us find their own space. Our interest, eventually, is to be able to say that they generate a significant share of their revenue in China. There is less of a desire to add a great number of new names, than to show that those that come to us are really successful, and in the end they can create new jobs and grow.
The full interview is published in French on FashionNetwork Premium.
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