Designer brands are not known for following e-commerce trends. They stay true to tradition, selling only on physical stores even when online shopping rose to popularity. But when the pandemic hit, many of them were compelled to shift online too, and resellers popped up here and there. You’d see some on social media claiming that their products are all authentic.
But scamming people online is easy. Anyone can create an account on social media, post a photo of a product, and sell it for a fraction of its price in legitimate stores. If you’re not careful, you can fall prey to these scams and give your money to someone who would only run off with it. You’d either end up with a fake product or, worse, no product at all.
If you’re about to shop for a designer product online for the first time, this article will be your guide to finding true and trustworthy stores.
Designer Brands and E-commerce
First off, let’s discuss why designer brands don’t normally sell online. It’s important to know this just if you come across a fake designer brand website that looks convincingly real. In 2014, French luxury brand CELINE answered why they don’t sell online, and CEO Marco Gobetti had a simple answer: they prefer to engage with their customers directly “in the way they like to be engaged,” which is in the store.
Chanel had also answered this question multiple times. According to the president of global fashion Bruno Pavlovsky, fashion is about clothing, and clothing is something that you need to see, feel, and understand. Chanel’s digital strategies, Pavlovsky added, are aimed toward bringing more customers into their stores.
This doesn’t mean that all CELINE, Chanel, and other designer items being sold online are fake, though. Usually, they’re just pre-loved, a.k.a. used. Since some designer items retain their value, their owners can sell them if an urgent need for cash arises. Plus, there are indeed legitimate e-commerce sites offering brand-new designer brands. If you’re looking for a true online shop selling Charriol items, for instance, you can find at least one.
Spotting a Fraudulent Luxury Online Shop
Online sales blew up last year, and until now, we still buy many of our stuff online, so long as this pandemic isn’t under control yet. But the growth of e-commerce also gave opportunities for scammers to set up their own fraudulent online stores.
Michigan State University recommends using this guideline to verify an online store’s authenticity:
1. Check the Seller
A trustworthy online shop should disclose the seller behind the product. Is it the brand owner itself or a third-party e-commerce site? If you shop on Amazon, you’d see identifiers such as “Other Sellers on Amazon” or “Shipped and Sold by [company name].” The e-commerce site you’d shop from should also have identifiers like those.
If the e-commerce site doesn’t disclose the seller, consider that a red flag, and shop directly from the brand if they have their own online store, too.
2. Check the Contact Information
Fraudulent sites often overlook this detail, so you wouldn’t normally see any contact information on their pages. Instead, what you may see is just a P.O. box, and a “Contact” page with a generic email address, like [website name]@gmail.com or yahoo.com.
A generic email address is a dead giveaway of fraud, so report it at once and move on to a legitimate site!
3. Check the Location
Just because a store is based online doesn’t mean it has no physical location. Aside from a phone number, email address, and a P.O. box, the website must also state where exactly it is located. Preferably, all those contact information should be disclosed. If there’s only a physical address and an international phone number, the site is likely fake.
While those two contact details don’t automatically suggest a fraud, you can confirm if that’s the case or not by looking at the products they sell. For example, if the site targets Filipino customers but advertises their products as “discounted luxury perfumes from Dubai,” that could mean they’re actually selling counterfeited perfumes from China or another country.
4. Analyze the Website’s Content
Before, illicit online stores are pretty obvious because they use free site-development platforms. But now, building a professional-looking website has become easier. A scamming store can look more aesthetically pleasing than Amazon or eBay.
But content is king, so you can immediately spot red flags just by analyzing an online store’s visual elements. For example, if you’re looking for Gucci bags, an inauthentic website would often use copyrighted photos, which they illegally took from the brand’s official website. Remember, photos from an official site shouldn’t be reproduced or used somewhere else, so no other online store can use them.
Look at the site’s domain as well. There should be an “HTTPS” and a padlock symbol on the URL. If you don’t see those, better move on to another site. You can still shop for designer bags online, but be extremely careful, especially with discounted brand new items.