How to make sure that luxury brand is real before you buy online

(BPT) - Fashions may change, but nothing has the staying power of a luxury watch, handbag or necklace from one of the top brands in the world. Whether you’re scouting out your next gift or looking to elevate your style, luxury goods hold the key to quality and prestige.

The personal luxury goods market is forecast for 3-5% annual growth through 2025 reaching $365 billion, according to the 2019 Bain Luxury Study. At the same time, a surge of shoppers is turning to online sellers in hopes of gaining access to the high-end brands they love, but at a great deal.

With the high demand for luxury goods comes an increasing need to know whether that handbag, bracelet or accessory you have your eye on is really the genuine article. Luxury brand authenticity has become a huge issue, as brands file lawsuits against sellers, alleging the sale of counterfeit goods.

Before you click to buy, take time to know what you’re buying. ShopWorn — an e-commerce seller of authentic luxury goods that have only been tried on in the shop, never pre-owned — has tips to help you know that the deal is real.

Authenticate your seller: First, do some background research on the source of that eye-catching luxury product. Does the website tell you where products come from? Check if the website is transparent in its sourcing strategy.

Read reviews: Does the company have reliable reviews from its customers? Ideally, these should be added consistently over an extended period of time. If all the reviews are very recent, be wary.

New or pre-owned? It helps to know whether your purchase is pre-owned. If that’s the case, be aware there’s no guarantee the item is 100% authentic, as it may have after-market parts added to it.

Shipping policy: If 2-day shipping is unavailable, the website may not have your item in stock, and you may be in for a very long wait.

Website images: Is the website using stock images or are they using authentic product images? Running a copy of the image through an online search engine is one quick way to find out.

Chat with customer service: A phone number should be listed prominently on the website. A professional customer service representative should pick up the phone and answer any questions you may have.

Investigate their online presence: Branch out your search and discover what you can about the seller’s online presence. Do they keep and maintain active social media sites, and interact with their followers? Did you find any videos or articles in the press? Also, the seller should appear in major review sites.

Make yourself a product expert: Do your homework on the brand and familiarize yourself with the brand’s details. Maybe there’s a specific country of origin imprinted in each label. Many brands include serial numbers and specific details in the logo. If any of these are missing or altered, that’s a sure sign of an impostor. And look for a warranty.

Know the mark of quality: Educate yourself on the look, feel and sound of high-quality pieces versus less expensive versions. For example, a true mechanical watch movement has subtle but distinct differences in look and sound. All gold items, whether watches or jewelry, will have a hallmark denoting gold purity.

Review the payment methods: Credible online sellers should accept just about any major payment method of your preference. If they don’t, that sends up a red flag.

Is it refundable? Look for a return policy on the site or whether the item is “final sale.”

Is it genuine? Some third-party sellers have hired on-staff luxury “authenticators” to demonstrate a commitment to authenticity. Be wary of these claims. First, there are no formal accreditation processes or best-practice standards in this field. Also, there’s no guarantee a well-made fake can get past the experts.

If you’re looking for a trustworthy seller of luxury brand handbags, watches and other high-end accessories at attractive prices, consider ShopWorn. Because ShopWorn works directly with brands and authorized retailers, the products are never pre-owned. At most, they’re gently handled in a store and often never removed from the store’s safe or display counter. With every purchase, you can feel good knowing you’re getting authentic brands backed with a warranty proving they were never pre-owned.

The father-daughter team that leads ShopWorn — CEO Richard Birnbaum and CMO Elana Birnbaum — is dedicated to making luxury affordable.

There’s more on ShopWorn and its luxury products at www.shopworn.com.