How the digital transformation changed Auction Houses

Known for the ultra-rare paintings and unique pieces of art sold, most of the luxury auction houses around the world have begun a transformation period. 

Sotheby’s and Christie’s have seen how technology impacted and changed their businesses. Last year acquisition of Sotheby’s by Patrick Drahi supported this new era in which the digitalization is at its very core. Digital media is the ideal tool for selling many rare pieces to an international clientele with unique tastes. This suits perfectly the business of auction houses, which spans from fine art to luxury goods. 

Following this new way of conducting auctions, Sotheby’s has announced an important restructuring of its business model. It will be now divided into two main global divisions, which are the “Fine Arts” divisions and the “Luxury, Art and Objects” division. What sparks a high interest in this transformation is the new focus on Luxury goods. Here, we will see new categories of products such as: jewellery, watches, modern design and wine. 

This new division fits perfectly with the vision that auction houses have for selling their items in the future. In fact, these luxury goods are excellent for trying out new online marketplaces and channels in this new digital era of auction houses. Furthermore, it is also crucial in order to broaden your customers reach to use online capabilities and improve the overall experience of the buyers.

However, live auctions will still be a huge contributor to this business and will not cease to exist. The desire of being able to see the piece of art with your own eyes is still predominant in most of the customers. Although, the younger clientele is already accustomed to making important purchases online and it’s not impossible to imagine a future where most of the customers will prefer to participate to these auctions through online platforms rather than in person. 

Another important feature of this digitalization is the transparency it creates for collectors. Accessing information through online websites makes it easier for collectors to make valuable researches before looking to purchase an item. These clients are known to be highly diligent when gathering information to educate themselves on the product and an online presence of the items they might be interested in makes grabbing their attention even quicker.

How do you imagine the future of this sector?

By Andrea Gallo

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