Laura Brady, President & Founder, Concierge Auctions
Auction houses like Concierge Auctions, which sells luxury homes around the world through digital bidding, have a goal to make buying and selling as easy and transparent as possible. The firm began with live, in-person auctions but quickly learned that what high-end buyers and sellers wanted most was a flexible platform that was easy to use, anonymous, and enabled them to participate from the time and location of their choice.
Developing a platform to transact luxury properties requires a keen awareness of the affluent consumer.
Today’s customer is very sophisticated. They want everything at their fingertips, but they are also accustomed to doing their own research and acting independently. The needs of both buyers and sellers are paramount to the development of digital auction platforms. Both buyers and sellers crave information at different points in the auction process, and that information must be provided in an easy to access format. All of the actions taken by potential bidders need to connect to a database to inform the company on how to best serve these customers.
Buyers for a particular property can come from anywhere around the world. This means that auction houses deal with multiple time zones, languages and forms of currency. These consumers desire a seamless combination of high touch luxury service and automation.
Challenges and opportunities
Security is a huge consideration when processing multimillion-dollar transactions online, as the need to protect both the personal and financial information of bidders is paramount. Bid prices update in real time, and bidders are able to preset their spending limits in case they are not watching the auction. Bidders receive notifications on their phones and can update with a single touch. All of that requires the latest in cybersecurity to keep client information protected at all times. In addition, auction houses must comply with cybersecurity regulations in individual countries.
Businesses involved in high-end online auction services must stay engaged with their customers’ unique needs while keeping informed of logistical and technological challenges and language barriers
In the early 2000s, many buyers and sellers were unsure about bidding via the web, but the rise of platforms like Uber and Airbnb helped raise the comfort level for placing bids digitally. Today, many buyers and sellers safely and securely use mobile apps for bids through Android or Apple phones.
Digital auction platform users expect to switch back and forth seamlessly between devices, depending on where they are in the process. At times they use a Smartphone but also want to view the website on desktops, tablets, and laptops. The goal of a successful online auction house is to make sure that users are always receiving what they need at the moment they need it.
Where the industry is headed
Machine learning and artificial intelligence (A.I.) have become increasingly important to auction apps as technology evolves. Auction houses are able to share with customers the items of most interest to them. Auctions in all industries must adapt to the two trends that are moving the market the most: on-demand purchasing and personalization. A.I. can greatly assist in this area because it can make sure the customer receives a bespoke experience.
Blockchain and cryptocurrency may also change the landscape as auction houses are constantly reviewing the existing business models and exploring new ones as the auction services world enters its next phase.
Businesses involved in online auction services must stay engaged with their customers’ unique needs while remaining informed of logistical and technological challenges and language barriers. Auction houses that provide their clients with personalized service in real time will remain competitive and at the forefront of the industry.