Today eBay unveiled its new online auction platform, which aims to open up a rarefied market to the broadest possible audience, providing a virtual entrance to auction house salesrooms for eBay’s whooping 149 million online shoppers (technology that will, presumably, soon be implemented in eBay’s forthcoming partnership with Sotheby’s). Starting today, shoppers can preview catalogues and sign up for upcoming sales; users then are able to bid at individual events.
Inventory will be sold directly by hundreds of traditional auction houses, including such partners as Doyle New York, Freeman’s, Garth’s Auctions and Swann Auction Galleries. eBay is launching its live auctions in partnership with Invaluable, a leader in online auctions for fine art and collectibles. Users can bid on items against others in real-time through Invaluable’s online bidding technology, simulating the feeling of a live auction in a virtual realm, rather than the delayed bidding system that eBay auctions usually entail.
“Through the launch of live auctions, eBay is re-imagining the time-honored auction house experience,” said Gene Cook, general manager of emerging verticals for eBay Marketplaces, in a press release earlier today. “We know that people want new ways to peruse and purchase fine art and collectibles, and eBay’s live auctions are a best-in-class, inspiring shopping experience that delivers on this at a variety of price points.”
This is eBay’s second foray into live-bidding on fine art. In 1999, eBay unveiled a high-end online auction site, Great Collections, to sell a similar array of items in live, online auctions, but it didn’t take. Over a decade later, buyers’ shopping habits have changed, with luxury good sites like Gilt and Net-A-Porter proving that shoppers don’t necessarily need to see their wares in person to spend thousands of dollars.