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Auction houses embracing digital technology to sell to the new global rich
SEPTEMBER 18, 2014 by: John Dizard.

....The auction houses have been under pressure to adapt to this changing universe. While the most visible aspect of the houses’ digital revolution may be their online auctions, the most essential is in the systematising and networking of their customer, market and lot information. Without that, the auctioneers would lose control of their ability to charge gross margins in the mid-teens as intermediaries of the $30bn global art auction market....Within the quasi-duopoly of Christie’s and Sotheby’s at the top of the auction world, Christie’s has now moved to implement what it calls its “digital strategy”....Christie’s now has James Map (as in founder James Christie), a sort of private internal social network that allows specialists, client service staff, support staff and executives to see what is known about a client and his tastes. Past auction records, relatives’ purchases and sales, statistical inferences on how likely clients are to move from buying an expensive watch online to participating in a high-end evening sale – it all can be in the mix.

The idea, Murphy explains, was “to create an internal app that spiders into our database of information and brings up on our internal [screen] environment lots of connectivity. This is faster and better than the email chains [that it replaced].”....This summer, Sotheby’s announced a partnership with eBay, the online auction giant. While the details of the partnership are still being developed, it is understood eBay will distribute live Sotheby’s auctions to its global audience of 150m buyers.

Ken Citron, Christie’s head of IT

The digital strategy is also making it easier to take part in auctions. Even with all the unseen know-your-customer checks now required by financial supervisory agencies, it has become much faster and easier to register as an auction house client. About half now do so online.

But while the online revolution may have left some auction houses behind, for others it is generating new business. Auction houses used to regard the sale of smaller, cheaper objects from, for example, estate liquidations as an annoying loss-leader business that just wasted their specialists’ time. Now, however, many are making money selling objects for $2,000-$3,000; it’s just a matter of cutting transaction costs. “We have a new app with which you can take a picture, push a button, and it goes to a specialist, with a description. Then the specialist can decide if it might fit into an auction,” says Citron.
auctions  Sotheby's  Christie's  data  art  collectors  high_net_worth  partnerships  eBay  duopolies  digital_strategies  CRM  IT  margins  intermediaries  internal_systems  loss_leaders  transaction_costs  cost-cutting  know_your_customer  Bottom_of_the_Pyramid  estate_planning  liquidity_events  online_auctions  digital_revolution 
november 2016 by jerryking
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