GOING ONCE (TRULY): Understanding that the thrill of the chase is as much of an incentive for some online shoppers as the product is, online marketplace 1stDibs has launched “Auctions.”
The platform allows consumers to place bids for fashion, fine jewelry, watches, handbags, home decor and furniture. Thousands of items are up for grabs, and bidders don’t have to deal with a buyer’s premium, a fee on top of the final price, which is customary with most auction houses.
For the platform’s launch, 1stDibs lined up potter and designer Jonathan Adler and his husband, writer and fashion commentator Simon Doonan, to cull some of their favorite 1stdibs finds. A pair of John Keal for Brown Saltman sculptural chairs circa 1954; a signed Piero Fornasetti “Butterflies” dining table from the ’60s; an original 1971 lithography by Henry Moore, and an Arne Jacobsen mid-century modern swivel “Swan” chair for Fritz Hansen are among the items being offered. Doonan and Adler curated 75 pieces in total.
Interestingly, the style-conscious pair did not choose any fashion or accessories for their curation. The new Auctions platform currently includes such items as Hermès Birkin bags, a Jean Paul Gaultier ribbed wool dress with a pony hair harness from fall-winter 2002 and an Alexander McQueen sequin jacket from the fall-winter 1998 collection.
E-commerce and online auctions are expected to generate $681.5 billion this year in the U.S., comprising a nearly 11 percent annual gain, according to IBISWorld. Over the past five years, the sector has seen a 13.3 percent annualized market growth. While established auction houses like Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Phillips continue to dominate, online resources like StockX and Rally have helped to attract a new generation of online bidders.
Last year 1stDibs had 58,000 active buyers, a 27 percent gain compared to 2019, according to a company spokeswoman, who declined to comment on annual projected volume for the new platform.
The company knows that some customers like to negotiate and appreciate the convenience of “buy it now,” and others “enjoy bidding at auction to acquire something they love,” according to David Rosenblatt, 1stDibs’ chief executive officer. In a statement, he said, “Being able to offer both models on our site is a significant step toward meeting our customers where they are and how they prefer to shop.”
The company also offers a buyer protection and shipping assistance, which can be needed given the current global bottlenecks.