The coronavirus pandemic has forced the auction industry, as with the arts and culture sector more broadly, to explore new digital avenues.
Although young, tech-nimble, collectors have been comfortable with the abrupt shift, their more experienced (read big spending) counterparts remain reticent to invest without physical contact. This has spotlighted a longer-term quandary facing the $60 billion industry, namely; how to balance the undeniable importance of digital spaces with the enduring primacy of physical experiences?
In the context of China, Christie’s is demonstrating that Mini Programs, non-downloadable apps inside WeChat’s ecosystem, are a viable solution. Since launching in 2018, it has created a tool to supplement its in-house experience with clients able to register accounts, browse 1.8 million lots, and communicate directly with Christie’s.
Christie’s Mini Program may be market specific, but its functionality has lessons that extend far beyond the somewhat narrow circle of affluent art collectors.
Christie’s Step-by-Step Approach
The short development time (three to six months) and affordability of Mini Programs (20 to 50 percent of an APP) make them appealing. However, launching is only the first step towards creating a tool serving the specific needs of your audience. Christie’s began by focusing on core functions i.e. allowing customers to register accounts and browse lots, before building out further functionalities such as multilingual indexing, supporting e-ticket registration, and a chatbot feature. This long-term approach not only ensures developments are based on user needs, it allows organizations to spread out spending and resource investment.
Those who engage frequently with your Mini Program are likely the most valuable customers and having direct communication channels is key. Mini Programs offer this connection in a smooth and cost-effective manner. Christie’s customers can have FAQs answered through a chatbot function. More specific issues, such as lot estimates and sales support, are responded to more personally by agents.
Which lots are receiving the most attention? Where is the consumer base logging in from and how engaged are they with the brand? What does the customer flow look like from sign-up to bid? What do article reads reveal about broad interest in the arts? These are among the myriad number of questions made answerable through Christie’s Mini Program. The data leveraged is immediate, specific, and holds strong business value.
Christie’s Mini Program was created in partnership with 31Ten, a digital agency focusing on designing and building WeChat Mini program.