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How Digital Transformation Changed the Auction Industry

April 17, 2021

5 Min read
How Digital Transformation Changed the Auction Industry

With the COVID-19 pandemic hitting the world, many businesses were forced to adopt digital technology to carry on with their operations and prevent closure. It has forced companies and organizations across different industries to take a hard look at their digital infrastructure and start doing things differently as they step into the “new normal.” However, even before the pandemic happened, some industries have already acknowledged digitalization as the future of marketing, sales, logistics, insurance, and all the other aspects of business operations.

The auction industry is one of these industries. Many auction houses had already embraced an era of digital transformation even before 2020. The auction industry knows that technology is changing the way people consume art in the modern times and that it is important for them to come up with a strategy to apply auction house software to common art management issues.

Using Digital Media as a Tool for Selling Pieces

Large auction houses, like Sotheby’s and Christie’s for instance, have long supported the use of digital media as a tool for selling rare art and unique pieces to the international market. After all, not all who may be interested in bidding and acquiring a particular piece can be physically present at or send an in-person representative to an in-room or live auction, especially if they’re from overseas. As such, conducting auctions online means these companies broaden their clientele and their reach so as to include buyers from other parts of the globe.

Having online capabilities will also help art galleries and auction houses improve their buyers’ overall experience. It’s true, nothing beats being able to see the pieces up close with your naked eyes, but this is where superior images come in. We now have high-Definition cameras that can capture clear, crisp, and life-like photos that allow potential buyers to view the pieces and make informed buying decisions. Besides, younger buyers are comfortable and, in many cases, prefer making purchases online.

Digitalization means easier access to information

Moreover, digitalization creates transparency for collectors, as well as provides them easier access to information. Bidders or collectors are increasingly able to access more information about certain pieces easier than before. Unlike in-room auctions where you only have the information provided by the auctioneer, online auctions make it easy for you to make valuable research about a particular artwork, artist, craftsman, and unique piece before you can make a bid and purchase an item.

Of course, for the auctioneer’s side, there’s also unprecedented information on every registered bidder and higher visibility for setting reserves. This visibility has resulted to high sell through rates.

Buyers and sellers are embracing digital transformation

When the UK lockdown happened due to the pandemic, online auctions had to replace in-room auctions at the drop of a hat. Bringing auctions online was already something that the industry sees happening in a few years, with some auction houses already gearing up for gradual changes. But because of the Covid-19 crisis, what was supposed to take years needed to be done overnight. Most auction houses and art galleries had to implement a digital strategy within weeks rather than years.

According to Essential Information Group, auction volumes did drop some 20 percent year on year, but this is already an achievement considering how the wider market is doing. The auctions market has managed to maintain their access to property by quickly moving online. After all, there was still demand and there was still money in the market.

The numbers show that buyers and sellers have embraced the change. Conducting auctions as a live-streamed event is the closest that companies can get to recreating in-room auctions.

In fact, according to Max Mason, the head of 574, Lambert Smith Hampton’s online auctions platform, online events are actually far more personal than one could expect. This is because he is able to see every single registered bidder from his desk at home, and if he feels like one of the bidders needs to be amped up, he could call them and personally address concerns and answer inquiries.

What Else is There for Auction Houses?

With digital transformation well under way, and with major auction houses already having kept up with the times, what else is there to look forward to other than online auctions or live-streamed events?

For one, auction houses can follow Sotheby’s footsteps. It has launched a mobile app, which offers the same art pieces as the ones offered in its online platform, mySotheby’s. This mobile app has a mechanism that allows bidders to leave absentee offers, to view results of the auction in real-time, and look for upcoming lots.

Other things that auction houses can implement include augmented reality software, where potential buyers can view a painting, print or work of art in situ on their wall at home or in a corner of their favorite room. Virtual reality headsets, which would bring traditional auction experience into the homes of online bidders. They would no longer content with looking at pictures on their screens, but they could use VR headsets to walk around the display room and observe the pieces in their three-dimensional glory. In effect, potential buyers can get the emotional and competitive feel of going to the auction and bidding without having to leave their homes.

Auction houses can also bring in Artificial Intelligence. Imagine an AI auctioneer that could give out painting facts as well as survey the room for bidding probabilities?

Artisio as Cloud-Based Auction Solution for Digital Transformation

With traditional auction houses around the world facing many challenges because of the COVID-19 pandemic, they need a partner in implementing efficient, accurate, and sophisticated digital solutions that will add value to their business.

Artisio can be this partner.

Artisio is uniquely positioned to design and implement a cloud-based solution for auction houses to complement and work alongside digital transformation. It has its own auction management software and back-office auction house solution that will make it easy for auction houses to automate their processes and effectively manage their events and activities. Artisio’s goal is to support auctioneer’s front to back processes in an increasingly online and mobile environment. Understanding that customisation of functionality is key to supporting an auction business’s needs to make onboarding, management, and monitoring a pain-free and seamless experience for its partners.

By listening to auction companies and identifying the things that are missing from their existing management systems, Artisio promises to develop auction solutions that are tailor-designed to every modern auction house’s needs. Ultimately, it will help partners shape their auction house management, both for them and their customers.

Auction Software
Online Auctions

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