Innovation and experimentation in the digital art market is not just about technology: the impact of ecommerce business models is prompting established companies such as Christie’s to re-examine their sales strategies in order to shake out new revenue streams.
The Telegraph reports that Christies are “to break with 250 years of tradition by offering items for immediate purchase at a fixed price, similar to how Ebay allows shoppers to bypass the bidding process.” Forty two lots will be offered for sale online and in the company’s Kensington saleroom at a fixed (premium, tax-inclusive) price in advance of their auction sale. Although referring to it as a “new approach to buying” the experiment is cleverly timed to coincide with the Christmas gift-buying market (even offering gift-wrapping). And in a further indication of the importance of reaching out to new customers both online and via their saleroom:
“Buyers don’t have to bid – they can walk into our saleroom in South Kensington and walk out with their purchase, or they can visit our website. If people aren’t familiar with Christie’s or the auction process, it is a good way to introduce them.”
- Christie’s auction house copies eBay’s ‘buy it now’ model (The Telegraph)
Today, Sotheby’s formally announces its eBay partnership, and both companies flesh out some detail on their future strategies. Intriguingly, Sotheby’s is described as “a preeminent anchor tenant in the revamped marketplace” – a description which will worry those who consider this move a risk to the Sotheby’s premier brand. Continue reading
In 2013, Dan Loeb wrote that “Sotheby’s is like an old master painting in desperate need of restoration.” Now, a little more than a year later after a bloody boardroom battle and with three seats on the Sotheby’s board, the company is getting ready to make its first big digital play with Loeb and his deputies in the room.
The New York Times reports today that Sotheby’s and eBay have formed a partnership to stream Sotheby’s sales worldwide. It’s tempting to ask is this 12-year old idea the best Loeb can come up with? Both companies worked together on a similar project in 2002 but it was quickly shelved. Perhaps this time around it will be different – the difference being that under Loeb’s influence, Sotheby’s is now more comfortable in loosening its collar and using technology to chase a higher volume, lower value end of the art market. This would be consistent with Loeb’s 2013 statement: Continue reading