Sotheby’s and eBay Deal for Online Art Auctions
International art auction house meets international online auction website: Sotheby’s and eBay are coming together to create a new way of allowing people from all over the world to buy and bid on Sotheby’s art.
EBay has almost 150 million users, 40% of which access the site through mobile technology such as tablets or mobile phones. This makes the site the largest online auction site – as well as one of the largest marketplaces online – and at any given time there is an average of 650 million auction listings on the site from both individual sellers and online shops (or “merchants”).
According to Sotheby’s, the number of customers buying from online auctions rose by 36% last year, and online art sales alone are expected to reach staggering amounts of money by 2020, somewhere in the region of £8 billion/$13 billion.
To open with, Sotheby’s will be offering 18 categories on the eBay market, focusing on jewellery, watches, wine, prints, photographs and 20th-century design, as these have been found to be particularly popular with online customers.
The venture will also have live auctions from Sotheby’s New York auction house being streamed onto the site, which will allow for real-time bidding from anywhere in the world, like a video version of eBay auctions at the moment, and is expected to generate more competition in the “auction room”.
Although Sotheby’s already hosts online bidding on its website, its online targeting strategy has been criticised both internally and externally, with concerns being expressed about how much better rival Christie’s’ online sales are doing.
“The growth of the art market, new generation technology and [Sotheby’s and eBay’s] shared strengths make this the right time for this exciting new online opportunity,” said Chief Operating Officer for Sotheby’s, Bruno Vinciguerra. “We are joining eBay to make our sales more accessible to the broadest possible audience around the world.”
EBay’s Marketplace President, Devin Wenig, is looking forward to what can be offered to customers through the deal. “We can give people access to the world’s finest, most inspiring items,” he said, “anytime, anywhere, and from any device.”