Jeff Koons

Sotheby’s auction house created a service with the Internet of Things platform IFTTT to provide real-time updates on happenings in the auction community. The platform allows clients to receive up-to-date notifications when specific items are listed, including sold items, estimated selling prices, sale prices and updates regarding new auction locations.

IFTTT, which stands for If This Then That, is a free service that aids consumers in creating personalized experiences across digital devices. “Everything is essentially becoming a service,” said Anne Mercogliano, vice president of marketing at IFTTT. “I am very bullish about what retailers can do with this platform,” she added.

Mercogliano believes mobile is key and that brands must focus on how consumers want information. Retailers acutely aware of consumers’ heightened expectations have already begun shifting toward mobile-first strategies for attracting and retaining customers. Ninety percent of text messages are read within the first three minutes of receipt, positioning SMS as the most pervasive and engaging channel for marketers, according to a report from Total Retail.

“If you’re not reaching your customers on their mobile phones, you’re not reaching them where they’re spending most of their time. IFTTT enables retailers and services like Sotheby’s to extend their presence across all those touch points — smartphones, tablets, the mobile web — as well as new interfaces like voice, bots and other connected devices,” Mercogliano noted.

The IoT is piquing the interest of retailers, as 70 percent of retail decision makers globally said they are interested in adopting the IoT to enhance customer experiences, according to Zebra Technologies’ 2017 Retail Vision Study. The report also found that 78 percent of retailers feel it is important or critical to integrate e-commerce and in-store experiences, which speaks to the demands of today’s channel-agnostic shoppers.

John Peebles, the senior vice president in Sotheby’s digital marketing department, told WWD, “When you consider the dozens of markets we serve, the thousands of artists and manufacturers and producers who create rare and often unique items and then overlay the communications options by which our clients wish to track all of the above — there are billions of options. IFTTT makes it feasible to get the right information at the right time in the right context.”

Mobile shopping is expected to continue to grow.  REX/Shutterstock

Users can select “applets” on the Sotheby’s page through IFTTT’s platform that offer a selection of message delivery options, which include text, e-mail and updates via social media channels. IFTTT is accessible via desktop and mobile.

Sample applets include options such as “Get a weekly e-mail about contemporary art from Sotheby’s,” or “When a work from your favorite artist sells, get notified with a text message and post to Facebook.” Users can also create their own applet, as the service is entirely customizable.

IFTTT works with over 400 apps, services and devices. Its clients include Amazon, Facebook, Google, Twitter and Dropbox.

For More Retail Business Trends from WWD, See:

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Anticipating a ‘Dramatically Different’ Retail Experience by 2030

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