LiveArt

Putting ‘the art world at your fingertips’, LiveArt has earned its reputation as an AI-driven powerhouse that helps art collectors make the most informed buying and selling decisions. They give their users unlimited and free access to market data, so they can explore real-time price trends, evaluate past purchases and review auction results. However, in 2021, they felt ready to launch their very own LiveArt Market; a peer-to-peer marketplace for fine art and NFTs that puts collectors in control.

All images belong to LiveArt and their associates.

  • Services
  • Development
  • Consultancy
  • Shopify Plus
  • Technology
  • Shopify Plus
  • Customer.io
  • Amazon Web Services
  • $5m in sales in first 2 weeks post-launch
  • +1,000 contemporary works of art worth $120m
  • $50k-$500k average sale price ranges

Challenge

Selling NFTs (non-fungible tokens) and fine art isn’t the same as selling prints or furniture. The value of a piece can fluctuate, and the ability to sell ‘private’ products is sometimes required. For the latter, we were presented with the challenge of letting sellers promote their products without displaying images – a task that immediately takes us out of a traditional store set-up. 


LiveArt also needed to be able to create barriers to entry. While ecommerce sites usually let everyone shop, the marketplace had to put users through a buying approval process. This restriction had to be KYC (Know Your Customer) and AML (Anti-Money Laundering) compliant, so that collectors could buy and sell their pieces lawfully and in complete confidence. 


Then there was the matter of two-sided ecommerce on what is known as a one-sided platform. Shopify Plus makes purchases easy, but enabling collectors to sell their art presented a complex need. Custom development was required to effectively ‘hack’ the Plus system, alongside a single sign-on (SSO) that would keep them logged in when navigating from LiveArt to Market. 


If that wasn’t challenging enough, LiveArt required a speedy turnaround, which meant creating a minimal viable product (MVP) that retained a high level of functionality. At pace, we needed to produce LiveArt Market with product management, user accounts and merchandising working seamlessly. Put simply, we were building our own masterpiece. 

Solution

Making a maximal MVP

This minimal viable product was on the maximal side, with a host of custom features that would make the LiveArt Market an easy-to-use, two-sided, seamless store. 

However, in order to work to a tight deadline, we needed to combine bespoke development with pre-existing Shopify functionality, and lean into third-party systems. 

This is where our partnerships came into play. Having strong relationships with leading providers allowed us to pick and choose the very best tech to optimise the store. 

Securing a single sign-on

Because LiveArt had long been using Amazon Cognito for their user sign-ups, they were keen to maintain this tool for LiveArt Market logins.

We implemented custom development to link Cognito up with Multipass, a built-in feature of Shopify Plus.

This plug-in generates an access token so that when someone is logged on to an external system, such as the LiveArt platform, they’ll remain logged on when they go to browse items on LiveArt Market. This creates a frictionless user journey. 

Working with workflows

The need for user approval, ‘private’ selling and a solution for high-demand pieces meant our team needed to set up a series of automated workflows that make managing the marketplace easy. 

Reviewing user sign-ups has to be a manual process to be legally compliant, but automations allow LiveArt to keep users updated on their membership status. They only need to fill in the sign-up form once for the back-end to ‘tag’ their customer ID, which then sends a message telling them that their submission is pending. Even while their membership is in review, they won’t need to fill out the form again, as they’ll receive this message each time they navigate to the site. Until approval, that is. 

Meanwhile, for artworks that needed to remain ‘private’ – meaning you can’t see a photo of the product – we improved the user journey by creating an automated ‘Similar Items’ feature. This way, without needing to see an image of the artwork they’re purchasing, collectors can get a feel for the style of the piece, and shop accordingly. 

An ‘Add to Waitlist’ workflow then makes shopping for artwork even easier. If users miss out on a piece, they’ll receive notifications of other, similar artworks they might want to purchase. These recommendations aren’t merely focused on the same artist, but can even suggest pieces by other artists, based on a certain design style, the work’s size or the average price.   

Creating custom ‘Drop’ pages and protecting NFTs

Alongside clean and cohesive, gallery-style collection pages, we created ‘Drop’ pages, which display mini curated collections of a select few pieces that have gone on sale together. Presented in a visually-appealing editorial format, they can even show a new style of art called NFT (non-fungible token), which LiveArt has recently started selling on their site. 

These are one-of-a-kind digital artworks that are as unique as a fingerprint, appearing as a video, animation or graphic you will not find anywhere else. They appeal to a new generation of art collectors, and represent an up-and-coming shift towards the creation and admiration of digital masterpieces. But, to maintain their value, they must be carefully inserted into pages so as not to allow copies to be made – something that our team of developers guaranteed with clever embedding. 

Result

LiveArt Market launched to critical acclaim from the arts and general media, including the Wall Street Journal, The Art Newspaper and ARTFIX Daily. WSJ hailed it for letting “high-end collectors buy and sell without the middleman”, while LiveArt customers, new and old, have embraced its fresh take on peer-to-peer trading. 

The store only went live in 2020, but as the collections grow – and the user base does, too – we look forward to seeing this innovative art platform continue to thrive.  

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