In 2017 Sotheby’s Auction House saw nearly a quarter of all its sales, totaling more than $180 million, come from online sales. During the year Sotheby’s focused on providing consumers with new, innovative tools to bid on high-end items through digital means in response to the overall trend toward luxury online shopping experiences. Some of the methods used were online bidding, lifestream videos, interactive tools and a partnership with online auction house eBay. Sotheby’s utilized eBay’s position as an established, major ecommerce site as a platform to live streams its auctions, thereby increasing visibility to those who had not previously been exposed to or aware of their auctions. Through a partnership with the IoT platform IFTTT, Sotheby’s customers can create customized notifications to stay up to date with upcoming sales based on personal preferences.
The strategies proved successful, with online sales up 16 percent in 2017 from 2016, and nine underbids up $500 million and 27 percent from the previous year. Of the online customers 53 percent were new to Sotheby’s, a record for the auction house. This figure indicates the promise of further developing digital auction tools and the general desire of luxury consumers for this type of experience. Sotheby’s plans on continuing to increase its online presence and consumer base in 2018.