/Is Alibaba’s battle with counterfeit goods getting any better?

Is Alibaba’s battle with counterfeit goods getting any better?

Alibaba Group seems to struggle in its fight with counterfeit items, especially when United States Trade Representative (USTR) last year listed Taobao, Alibaba’s sprawling online shopping website in China, as one of the world’s most notorious markets for fake goods.

The Chinese e-commerce giant, however, claimed that it has been taking steps to deal with the issue of fake goods. Earlier this year, the Chinese firm filed a lawsuit against sellers of counterfeit Swarovski watches on Taobao at the Shenzhen Longgang District People’s Court, claiming RMB 1.4 million (about USD 203,240) in damages.

This might seem like a small amount of money for Alibaba, but the lawsuit itself was meant to scare off more online sellers of counterfeit items.

Blacklisted last year by American trade officials, the Chinese firm is not taking a disgrace like this lightly, and has kept pushing forward its strategy of cracking down on purveyors of counterfeit items.

AliHealth, Alibaba’s healthcare subsidiary, launched a third-party tracking system in May 2016 to further combat fake items and ensure the quality of its products. Consumers can scan the QR codes attached on the package of the products, and track the origins of products such as farm produce, baby formula or even wine.

It didn’t come as a surprise when AliHealth announced on Wednesday that they are ensuring the authenticity of their products and clearing up the food safety concerns by putting tracking QR codes on many more products, even including putting tracking codes on eggs.

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Customers can scan QR codes on the packages to check the origins of the eggs. (Photo by AllChinaTech)

This is the firm’s first attempt to partner with Chia Tai Group (or CP Food) to attach QR codes on their egg products. By scanning the code stickers on the packages, consumers are able to check all kinds of data related to the eggs that they’re purchasing, such as the location, temperature, humidity index and even the air quality of the henhouses.

By showing the “birth certificates” of the eggs, the Chinese tech giant is hoping to eliminate food safety concerns. CP Food claimed that they have over 20 henhouses across China, producing 6.4 million eggs for about 360 million Chinese consumers.

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The page of the “birth certificates” states the conditions of henhouses. (Photo screenshot by AllChinaTech)

Earlier this year, Alibaba’s executive chairman Jack Ma traveled to New York City’s Trump Tower to meet with US President Donald Trump. After the meeting, Ma pledged to create one million US jobs by growing trade between small U.S. businesses and Chinese consumers.

This might seem promising for Alibaba to join hands with US trade firms, but the first thing must come first: the Chinese tech giant boasting about its consumer-to-consumer online bazaar must come up with more strategies to solve its problem of counterfeit goods.

According to Fortune, you can search on Taobao and still find hundreds or thousands of illegitimate or dubious goods from top brands. As much as 90% of New Balance’s 117,000 listings on Taobao are fake or suspect products, according to the clothing company’s last estimates.

Alibaba has certainly been taking some actions to clean up fake items. CNBC reported that the firm has employed 2,000 permanent staff and 5,000 volunteers to find counterfeit goods. The e-commerce giant also uses artificial intelligence to help spot fake items by scanning images and logos for mismatches.

From QR code tracking system to AI scanning, Jack Ma is trying all sorts of ways to gain back the trust of customers, while Alibaba is making forays into the United States, Southeast Asia and elsewhere. We’ll have to wait and see Alibaba’s next action regarding this issue, and see if American trade officials will remove Alibaba from the list of notorious markets next year.

(Top photo from Alibaba)

Timmy contributes at AllChinaTech. He's passionate about photography, education, food and all things tech. He holds a master's degree from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.