Insights into the $1 trillion retail theft problem and how AI fights back against counterfeit Chanel handbags, Nike sneakers and more
IN 2012, a team of NYU grads put their heads together to solve a trillion-dollar puzzle.
As luxury counterfeiting became more sophisticated and professional, Jake Stewart and his friends saw an opportunity to make a difference.
While it would still be a few years before AI technology became widespread in the mainstream, enough foundations were already in place to at least get started.
In today’s market, the counterfeit handbag, purse, and sneaker business is estimated to cost manufacturers more than $1 trillion a year.
Top brands like Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Nike are of course fully aware of the problem and have been for many years.
But when the authorities, in cooperation with the companies concerned, shut down a factory, a new one emerges and the problems remain.
“It’s impossible for these brands to do much about it,” Stewart told The US Sun. “These counterfeiters are so creative and opportunistic that when they do, they just show up somewhere else.”
Input Entrupyis cutting edge AI software trying to restore balance.
Attached to the back of a smartphone, a quick photo of a suspect item can quickly verify the authenticity of that pair of sneakers or luxury handbag (some results are delivered in as little as 60 seconds) and also reassure the seller as a customer.
Entrupy’s market-leading device effectively captures fingerprints of the materials used, while simultaneously examining the surface for any anomalies or alarming differences in terms of colors, label placements and the actual leather used.
The New York City-based company is working with governments, customs officials and the brands in question to solve the problem, which has grown alarmingly in recent years.
But while owners of luxury handbags, for example, tend to hold on to their items for longer periods, sneakerheads are moving much faster, especially as online marketplaces have become the preferred method for buying and selling.
This means consumers are buying and selling at a rapid pace, leaving little time or thought for the possibility of buying something that doesn’t meet their expectations.
Stewart believes the counterfeit sneaker situation is “arguably bigger” than the handbag problem, as some well-known retailers knowingly advertise and sell so-called “replica” shoes.
“They hire influencers to promote fakes to this younger generation,” Stewart said.
“That drives the volume a lot more. Many younger consumers don’t really understand the cause and effect of counterfeiting. You are not aware of this situation.”
Entrupy is constantly striving to advance its technology, especially with the worrying increase in counterfeit medicines, mainly from China, flooding the black market.
Stewart believes that with the outbreak of the Covid pandemic, the counterfeiters have shifted gears and significantly increased their production.
While counterfeit bags and sneakers are an eyesore to society, they are one thing.
However, when sick people risk their lives by using improperly manufactured medicines, the counterfeiting problem is taken to a whole new level.
Entrupy is determined to support the fight.
“It’s scary what’s happening,” said Stewart, who edited his post Teeth I work on Nike’s golf products team.
“But our technology has evolved to the point where we can authenticate any physical commodity.”