Alibaba Invests in SMARTRAC to Enhance Brand Protection

Alibaba is to e-commerce what SMARTRAC is to RFID: one of the world’s biggest players. Now, the giant company aiming “to build the future infrastructure of commerce” has acquired a minority share in the RFID and IoT pacesetter. The rationale behind: the common quest for brand protection.


Alibaba runs one of the world's biggest e-commerce and retail platforms with more than 500 million users per month, generating annual revenues of almost US$40 billion. With operations in over 200 countries, Alibaba is considered the world's largest retailer, one of the largest Internet and AI companies, one of the biggest venture capital firms, and one of the biggest investment corporations in the world. These facts and figures explain why SMARTRAC’s CEO Christian Uhl said that he feels “honored by Alibaba’s confidence that SMARTRAC’s technological expertise will provide brands and consumers with best-in-class product authentication and customer experience solutions.”


These best-in-class RFID-based IoT solutions utilize SMARTRAC’s comprehensive Internet of Things platform - Smart Cosmos® - and enable brand product manufacturers to securely create and embed a unique digital identity into each individual product at the point of manufacture, at scale. This product identity can only be issued by the brand and can’t be faked, copied, stolen or lost. Thus, it provides full control and visibility of each genuine product throughout its product lifetime. In addition, brand owners can deliver exclusive and dynamic content to their consumers to increase customer engagement, loyalty and satisfaction, at the simple tap of a phone. "One major advantage is, that the infrastructure is already in the hands of the consumers. Nowadays almost every person owns a mobile phone and the majority are NFC-enabled," Christian Uhl stated.


Michael Evans, President of Alibaba Group and new member of SMARTRAC’s Supervisory Board, publicly endorsed Christian Uhl’s notion: “At Alibaba, we are continuously innovating and partnering to provide market-leading solutions and the highest levels of brand protection for our clients. We are thrilled to support SMARTRAC and together provide brands with innovative product authentication solutions at scale.”


Benefits for All Brands

Both Alibaba and SMARTRAC emphasize that they are fully committed to strongly supporting brand protection strategies and developing product authentication solutions for all premium product manufacturers and their customers. “Even if our collaboration with Alibaba has just started, one thing is already perfectly clear: every initiative to foster product authentication and brand protection is beneficial to all brand manufacturers worldwide,” Christian Uhl said.


RFID/NFC Adoption Expected to Grow in Asia

As a result, Alibaba’s investment could lead to significant RFID and NFC growth in Asia, Uhl thinks: "We see this as an accelerator to RFID and NFC adoption in Asia and worldwide.” Until now, brands and retailers in Asia have mainly employed QR codes for many of the functions that RFID and NFC provide throughout Europe and North America. However, these technologies provide benefits that others like QR codes simply cannot offer, for example allowing a simple tap of a phone to access data, and the technology’s inherent ability to be invisibly built into the product itself or its packaging. Furthermore, luxury brands are particularly hesitant to use QR codes, due to their poor aesthetics.


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