It is not surprising online auctions have started to become the norm. As eCommerce capabilities are being adapted in unexpected areas, non-essential businesses have experienced significant losses. Due to the lockdown, it is hard to believe things will ever go back to normal. The art industry has been hit hard. Galleries are closing and the normally profitable live auction markets has been virtually shut down. As things open up, it is clear that the show must go on. Live auctions must restart and eCommerce seems to be the solution. Fortunately, this normally traditional industry has the luxury of leveraging innovation made by the likes of eBay and newer developments in eCommerce.
Just like in other sectors, online auctions are booming at the moment. Particularly art auctions. An industry one would expect to struggle considering the pageantry around live auction, has seen similar growth in online sales since COVID. Auction houses are doing digital private sales and even the top auction house Christie’s and Sotheby’s have raised $350 million in the first half of this year. That is a 436% increase on the same time last year. Smaller auction houses around the US and Canada are also experiencing this boom and they seize the opportunity and embrace digital technology.
This success has seen many companies consult agencies like DigiCommerce to update their online auction software. Many companies saw the limits of this outdated technology at the beginning of the pandemic. Auctions are taking place across the week similar to the heyday of eBay. As website traffic and sales soared, scaling up has become the only option to keep up. Cataloging, customizing payment methods and the auctions process have created challenges. Integrating more robust payment solutions along with ERP and more efficient data management are some things needed to face new realities.
Other industries have also benefited greatly from online auctions. Car auctions in general have not quite experienced the same bump in sales. The notable exception has been online specialty cars auction which has seen an increase. The same has been true for the agricultural and farm retail sector. Businesses focusing on sales of machinery, equipment and heavy trucks are increasingly reliant on online auctions. In pandemic times, with limits on sizes of groups and other concerns, the ability to buy and sell from the comfort of your home or tractor cab is adding value for buyers and sellers. The method works as well for farm equipment as it does for farmland. Online auction of a being used to sell farmland for short term or long term which is an interesting innovation.
In conclusion, this is just a part of the larger trend of eCommerce capabilities, being adaptable in new ways in new industries. However, auctions as a concept have been digitized for over 20 years. COVID and the lockdown seems to have caused a resurgence. The resurgence of online auctioning has just seen an updated adaptation of the process. The most interesting part is how it has been repurposed by certain industries. We can expect to see further innovation in the near future.