This Sunday, Carol Vogel has an interview in the New York Times where she learns about Christie’s plans to expand its online sales and broaden the luxury and lifestyle aspect of its website:
Noting the success of luxury retailers like Net-a-Porter, 1stdibs and Gilt, which entice shoppers by showing merchandise in the context of an alluring online environment, Christie’s has hired experts from some of these sites to shape its initiative.
John Auerbach, 36, joined the auction house last year from Gilt to lead its e-commerce efforts. He has watched shoppers spend larger and larger amounts of money at Christie’s online-only sales. Right now, he said, the average price on its site is about $11,000, but in May a buyer purchased a drawing by Richard Serra for $905,000, making it the most expensive online-only purchase for the auction house to date. Competition was stiff. Eight bidders competed for the 2009 abstract drawing, according to Mr. Auerbach.
“People are becoming more comfortable online and buying art from digital images,” he said. “This was a well-known drawing by a famous artist.”
Why go after the online audience? Well, that’s where Christie’s thinks the future lies:
“When you consider that about 71 percent of our e-commerce traffic has come from visitors who are new to Christies.com, and of them 11 percent have gone on to register in regular auctions and 39 percent of these clients bid on pricier merchandise, it’s a pretty compelling picture.
Our research shows that about 53 percent of those who register to bid online are under the age of 45. As for the most popular categories of our online auctions, they are postwar and contemporary art, fashion and photographs, followed by wine and jewelry.”
And these new buyers are drawn to an object in different ways:
Content will be a very big part of the relaunch. Jeremy Langmead from Mr Porter has joined Christie’s and he really knows how to put something in context. For example, we did an Asian porcelain sale that traditionally is marketed to collectors of Asia porcelain, but this time we showed it in situ, meaning in a domestic environment. And we had a whole variety of people who became interested in it, and most of the top lots were bought by new collectors. Over time we will be showing more things in context. The new updated home page will have a dedicated area for online shopping — and again this is all part of that lifestyle positioning.
Christie’s Ramps Up Online-Only Sales (NYTimes.com)