How Bonhams personalized its unique digital auction marketplace

Challenges
With auctions being one-time-only events with one-of-a-kind lots, and its users’ behavior needing to be analyzed and weighed in a much different manner than a traditional e-commerce shop’s, off-the-shelf personalization methods were less than ideal.
Solution
By leveraging the onsite user behavior data they did for both email and website recommendations, Bonhams is also able to proactively personalize experiences for users based on their true tastes.
Results
+218%
increase in total clicks per email
+178%
increase in unique product clicks per email
+184%
increase in total product clicks per email

Context & Challenges

Because of the unique nature of its business, effective recommendation and personalization were a difficulty for Bonhams. With auctions being one-time-only events with one-of-a-kind lots, it isn’t feasible to rely on user behavior over time as an accurate measure of buyer interests. Additionally, its users’ behavior needed to be analyzed and weighed in a much different manner than a traditional e-commerce shop’s, making off-the-shelf personalization methods and platforms less than ideal.

+218%
increase in total clicks per email

A big difference between Crossing Minds and other SaaS products we’ve used is that we feel like we’re getting a truly personal service tailored to our unique needs. They were able to slot in and provide machine learning expertise, working closely with our in-house developers. Now, our customer experience has personalization built in everywhere. It really feels like a solution that can grow with us.

Humfrey Brandes
Head of Product, Bonhams

Solution

Bonhams chose to focus first on email personalization as a way to reengage buyers and drive more conversions. Relying on user data about previous auction interest and/or bids made on items, Bonhams was able to suggest similar auctions or lots that would interest a customer, directly to their inbox. 

Because of its success using Crossing Minds for email recommendations, Bonhams is looking forward to leveling up its personalization capabilities on its website, as well. They recently unveiled a website redesign that is optimized for the personalization options Crossing Minds’ solution can provide in mind. 

Bonhams is now able to quickly display relevant items up for bidding now when a user navigates to a webpage of an item that’s already been sold. This form of personalization would not be possible without the Crossing Minds’ recommendation pipeline, and it minimizes the risk of a user bouncing from the site when they realize the item is sold by giving them alternatives related to that search query.

By leveraging the same onsite user behavior data they did for email recommendations, Bonhams is also able to proactively personalize experiences for users based on their tastes via intuitive browsing, category recommendations, and more. In particular, when it comes to highly intentional buyers of luxury goods, the recommendation of related items for cross and upselling will be critical.

A big difference between Crossing Minds and other SaaS products we’ve used is that we feel like we’re getting a truly personal service tailored to our unique needs. They were able to slot in and provide machine learning expertise, working closely with our in-house developers. Now, our customer experience has personalization built in everywhere. It really feels like a solution that can grow with us.

Humfrey Brandes
Head of Product, Bonhams

Results

This customized retargeting effort not only led to more engagement, but also increased brand loyalty because of the positive user experience achieved from follow-up emails with items that truly interested them. It also keeps sellers happy by ensuring that items they put up for auction will be promoted to the most relevant and qualified buying audience in a timely fashion.

+218%
increase in total clicks per email
+178%
increase in unique product clicks per email
+184%
increase in total product clicks per email
+218%
increase in total clicks per email

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