Transforming Luxury Auctions

60% year on year growth in online only auctions

The challenge

Christie’s is the world’s leading auction house, with global sales in 2019 of $5.8bn. Christie’s offers over 450 auctions annually in over 80 categories, including all areas of fine and decorative arts, jewellery, photography, collectibles, wine, and more.

With its global footprint, Christie’s was aware of the benefits of transitioning to online auctions. However moving to online was not free of challenges. It was imperative for example, that online auctions mirrored the behaviour of physical auctions, and enhanced Christie’s reputation for extraordinary art, unparalleled service and expertise. Christie’s needed a solution that was well designed, easy to use, and could handle high volumes of both sales and end users. It also had to fit with existing infrastructure, and appeal to a wide range of customers, across various product auctions.

The solution

Christie’s selected Perfect Channel to build a highly reliable and extensible eCommerce platform that would permit Christie’s to conduct multiple and simultaneous online auctions of art, antiquities and collectables on a global scale in multiple languages and currencies. The entire project from design to trading took under four months.

Key features include:

  • Plug and play marketplaces
  • Multiple trading mechanisms (English Forward and Fixed Price)
  • Basket functionality for multiple purchases
  • Cost calculator, including buyer’s premium, insurance, estimated shipping, VAT and royalties
  • Optimal packaging calculator, for calculating shipping costs
  • Perfect Insight integration
  • Integration to inventory management system and payment processing services
  • Georestrictions, multi-language, multi-currency with conversion and cross-border tax
  • Mobile-ready

The results

Christie’s has dramatically increased the number and breadth of its online only auctions since and Christie’s online-only business grew by 60% in its most recent year of trading. The new system has resulted in a significantly expanded marketplace for Christies – buyers access the auction site from 69 countries and 80% of the visitors to online auctions are new to Christie’s. In addition, Christie’s online auctions have resulted in an average 65% uplift on pre-sale estimates, with a Warhol sale resulting in sales 99% higher than the estimated pre-auction value.

Online is a very fruitful channel for new bidders and new clients to Christie’s. In general we’ve seen prices achieved online that rival those of live auctions and in many cases can be better than those in live auctions

– John Auerbach, International Managing Director, Digital & eCommerce

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