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Keeping in Touch: How Businesses Use Your Data

Online privacy is a huge concern, but data collection and website tracking aren’t always harmful. When it’s used ethically, customer data can help stores and auction houses build their business, while also providing a better experience for shoppers.

Photo by Christin Hume

Online shoppers are understandably wary of sites collecting their personal data – horror stories of hackers and identity theft are enough to make anyone want to shut off their computer for good. However, the majority of data collection simply revolves around users’ online habits, and powers services such as targeted advertising and website analytics that help create tailor-made online experiences.

Pablo Picasso, “Pichet Anse Prise” vase, 1953, ceramic, 7.75 x 4.75 in. Photo © Palm Beach Modern Auctions

Certain data is especially important for online shopping sites, especially auction houses. In order to compete with larger entities and help their clients find items they want, databases and analytics are key. By reviewing an item’s bidding history, auction houses can connect with underbidders when similar items appear at auction, which helps more clients find what they’re looking for. Auction houses can also contact frequent buyers when they have interesting pieces – an excellent service for busy collectors who don’t have the time to comb through listings. If they use targeted advertising, businesses can also attract new potential clients whom they otherwise might not have been able to reach.

Photo by Chloe Bolton

Because this information is sensitive, ideally it will stay in one place. However, when auction houses use third-party sales platforms, they have to share the leads and client databases that they have built up over time. Auction houses must trust that these platforms will not act as a competitor and misuse their access to this information, which can take years to collect and is integral to an auction house’s business.

Example of a live auction on a Skeleton site. Photo © Skeleton

Fortunately, there is a solution that benefits both auction houses and their clients. Barnebys’ software Skeleton allows auction houses to run sales directly on their own websites while seamlessly integrating with existing databases and bypassing third-party platforms. This means that auction houses are able to keep control over the data they’ve collected and use it ethically, and clients can rest easy with the assurance that sensitive or identifying information is not being spread across multiple platforms.

Photo by Cornelia Ng

Skeleton also allows auction houses to get the most out of the data that they do collect. Built-in analytics and reporting allow easy access to trends and insights about customers, so businesses can understand their bidders and consignors and better serve them both. Online shopping is only becoming more popular, and the proper use of data can make it a fulfilling experience for businesses and clients alike.


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