Catawiki Online auction: Reviews by artist 0xec6d0

Catawiki: Online auction for everybody

Catawiki is an uncommon online auction platform: it’s the only one on the European market to offer a real opportunity to buy and sell at auction, with some great price battles for certain items. Buyers and sellers are numerous, and in recent months the products offered on the site have moved upmarket.

You’ll find everything from art and fossils to vintage cars, decorative items, gold and silver, antique coins, collector’s books, one-off pieces, collector’s watches, luxury bags, fashion items and even Pokemon game cards.

Unlike a platform like Ebay, Catawiki makes it easy for buyers and sellers to find their way around. There are a lot of people who want an item, so there are a lot of bidders for an item, which raises prices and avoids disappointment. Similarly, bidders will be able to find previously unseen items much cheaper than on the second-hand market, with prices often below the public price, notably art, collector’s watches, fossils or luxury bags.

Generally speaking, we’re also seeing the pressure of auctions, with prices that can soar at the last second, just like a site like Ebay did a good ten years ago. Catawiki’s strength lies in its ability to select items for sale, enabling both bidders and sellers to find the best deals.

Catawiki’s strengths

As I said earlier, Catawiki’s strong point is its ability to select items. Here, every item presented must have a minimum sale value of €100, which ensures that buyers only find items worth their money.

To select these items, Catawiki has over 200 experts who will put a price on the items, accept them or not, or even suggest corrections to include them in the weekly sales. All this forms the basis of the online auction platform, which in the final analysis echoes the classic auction where an auctioneer will take charge of sales with objects having a minimum price, where this same auctioneer will provide an estimate as well as create lots and homogeneous auctions.

Once again, unlike other online auction sites, Catawiki offers from 50 to 200 items for a single sale, based on a precise theme. These themes can be :
– Luxury bags
Street art
– Fossils
– Collector’s watches
– Etc.

The objects on offer will be fairly homogeneous, with a fairly similar price base, dimensions, theme and common base. In fact, the buyer will have no trouble finding his way around: those who love Swiss collector’s watches will quickly find sales dedicated to their favorite theme each week, as will lovers of contemporary and abstract art, who will each have their own sale of choice.

Here we find 3 major highlights:

The experts who select the items
Auctions organized around specific themes
Quality items presented

3 fundamental points that will contribute to a virtuous circle of ever-increasing sales. It’s a good way for sellers to make handsome profits, and a good way for buyers to pick up a few bargains due to the sheer number of items on sale.

Occasionally, an item will sell for far less than its estimate, for X or Y reason that few understand. From one sale to the next, prices vary dramatically, ensuring a certain liveliness in the auction.

Catawiki’s weaknesses

Of course, there’s always room for improvement on Catawiki. First of all, sellers don’t always have the option of setting a reserve price, which means that their items can go for ridiculously low prices. This is a real problem for certain artists new to the site, who sometimes sell their works of art at a loss.

This has happened to me several times: there were very few buyers for an object, and I was forced to sell at a loss several times. Worst of all, I didn’t receive a single positive note for the sale – I’ll come back to that later.

It’s also a problem for certain objects that will be negotiated at a very low price, whereas on a second-hand site the object could go for much more. It’s the auction game: sometimes the seller wins, sometimes the buyer wins. Nevertheless, Catawiki allows you to set reserve prices to reassure you, even if you know that a reserve price will never enable an item to sell for more, it just ensures that it doesn’t sell below a certain level.

The other problem with Catawiki is its commission: 12.5% on a sale + 2.5% VAT on selling costs. That’s a lot when you’re selling a lot or selling at a high price. However, for certain sales or exceptional items, commissions can be lowered, but this is still rare.

The final issue is visibility. Sometimes your item will have only a few favorites and bidders because the sale, but especially your description, will have only a few keywords. Here on Catawiki, there are no precise rules for SEO. In other words, to get more visibility, I believe that the more experience a seller has, the more followers he’ll have, and therefore the more visibility he’ll get.
SEO techniques such as keywords or tags are not allowed, so you’ll need to share your item as much as possible on social networks, especially if it’s worth a lot of money to hope to get several buyers on it. You can never be sure that an item will sell well.

To sum up, there are 3 main issues:
Reserve price not always possible
High commission rates
Visibility difficult to achieve

My personnal review on Catawiki

First of all, I’ve grown to love this site. Catawiki does charge a high commission, but the online auction platform promotes you on various sites. This gives you visibility beyond the site, via their newsletter, customer database and even via AD on many sites.

For regular sellers like me as an artist, or for those who sell very expensive items such as cars, this is a real opportunity: you don’t have to worry about promoting an item to get it to sell. On the other hand, if you don’t put your foot down and share sales with your friends, followers and customers, you risk never seeing sales increase.

Personally, I share every sale with my followers, my family, my friends and my customers. I even tell them to buy my work through Catawiki, and the reason is simple: all sales are framed. I don’t have to worry about shipping issues thanks to smart delivery, in one click I print the label and I’m ready to send the item.

Even better: Catawiki has added Xcover, an insurance platform that covers online sales. Thanks to this, I insure each of my works at their exact sale price for 1% of the total sale. I sell an item for €1,000 and it’s insured for €1,000 for €10 (1%). Twice a canvas has arrived torn, and twice, after a 15-minute claim, I’ve been reimbursed and the buyer was able to have the painting restored.

Xcover protection is just awesome


Better yet, if the package is lost or takes a long time to arrive, Catawiki manages the support. It’s awesome. I spent 7 hours a month on the phone with delivery services because I had various problems. Thanks to smart delivery I save this precious time.

Catawiki’s support is great too, we have fast responses, with human agents, it’s a must. For all these reasons, I systematically use Catawiki to sell my direct production as an artist. I save a lot of time on deliveries and promotion, and I avoid a lot of problems.

My real big problem, and it’s a problem for artists I think, is the gap between my direct sales price and my gallery price. Many times I could have sold paintings 4 to 5 times more expensive privately via Instagram, via my site, or via other channels. On catawiki I sell a canvas for between €100 and €1,500 for sizes over 2 meters. In the gallery my price is around €1,600 for a format of 81 x 60 cm… We inevitably lose value when we stay on Catawiki in the long term. However, this compensates because we have the possibility of having special sales to certainly sell more than fifty items per month. In the end our prices are low but the volumes compensate.

A simple example: a €1,600 canvas in a 81 x 60 cm format will take several to months to sell, perhaps several weeks in the best case. I will spend on advertising and have to invest in selling it.

I will sell perhaps 5 to 10 paintings per month, often negotiated to individuals or galleries. The monthly total will be 2000 to 5000€ or more. In net we must be between 1000 and 3000€.

On Catawiki I will have to sell twice as many paintings to reach this figure. We can clearly see that direct sales reduce our prices, but on the other hand it gives us stability.

I think that for all individuals or professionals, the analysis is valid: we will perhaps sell less expensively, but we will ultimately have a guarantee of sales and therefore cash flow. Let’s see if it suits everyone.

Catawiki for artists

Many artists ask me if Catawiki is worth it. It all depends on what you want to do. Catawiki will suit artists who don’t like to promote, who have real quality objects, who are able to produce a lot, and who like to stay quiet in their corner.

Catawiki offers a certain peace of mind when it comes to privacy. Payments go through their payment partner, we can sell directly as a professional from our studio and gallery, and our contact details are not transmitted to everyone.

On this point I would say that it is essential, because certain artists like me or others who sometimes provide political or societal messages or who still remain anonymous, like Banksy moreover, like to remain so. And Catawiki is very vigilant about that, which is good.

Of course, providing works regularly can be exhausting. Likewise, sales prices for artists often remain below €500 per work. And even well-known artists can only sell their works for a few hundred euros while in galleries they can be found at more than 10 times that price.

I would say it’s an experience. I’m not attached to my works, so I don’t care about the price of their sale, what annoys me is seeing certain absolutely magnificent paintings on frames go for very cheap. There are 3 to 4 per year in this case. And there, yes it bothers me, because I know that in the medium term the buyer will make x10 to x100 on it.

For the rest it’s simple: if you are an artist and you want to stay quiet in your corner, anonymous, and sell your small production without any hassle, Catawiki is for you. If you are an artist and you like exhibitions, you want to put yourself forward, you are a fan of the whole art eco-system, social networks, you have big ambitions for your art, then I will say that you can skip it.

My tips for online auctions

I’ve been auctioning on Catawiki for over 2 years, I’ve seen a lot, made a lot of mistakes and bought quite a bit too, here are some of my tips for online auctions.

For Buyers

Here it will rather be a general recommendation. To buy an item on Catawiki or online in general, you should ALWAYS look at the reviews. Catawiki allows you to do this, it will give a general overview of the seller, and their ability to deliver the lots.

Then you have to do your own research on the lots. Personally when I buy online, because before being an artist, I am a collector, I only trust myself in terms of expertise and price.

We often have trendy, fashionable items and others that fly under the radar. Catawiki offers a great opportunity but you have to analyze the market, whether it is watches, works of art, cars, etc. you can really do business, but for that you really have to analyze the object:

its dimensions which are displayed
read the description
– read the weight of the item
– read the year

Sellers provide a lot of information and some of it is crucial. I’ll take a stupid example: I sell a lot of paintings, some are in 81 x 60 cm, others in 100 x 81 cm. Some collectors, once received, immediately understand that they have got a deal. Dimensions for a work of art are crucial, and large formats are always more expensive than small formats. It is therefore essential to always identify this information and include it in your own estimate.

Last point: think about/avoid car auctions. Automatic bidding is a bane or an opportunity. They allow you to set a real limit and help you win the prizes you want when you are not available or overbooked. But sometimes it’s the opposite!! They explode the prices of a lot that would have gone for much less, and it’s super annoying when you are available in front of the sale to see that only the lot on which you are in the process of soaring in terms of of price. It is therefore essential to think carefully about how to use online auctions.

For Sellers

As a seller I made a lot of mistakes in the beginning. Catawiki is a search engine, so it is important to give it good keywords.

Of course a general description can be good, but you have to polish this description, look at what the competitors are doing to find what appears at the top in the search results. This is important, because an object needs visibility to be sold well.

You should also not hesitate to share the object: with your loved ones, family, friends, followers, customers, etc. Particularly if the item is expensive and valuable. You’re never sure you’ll sell well, and conversely, some buyers may be happy to find your item. How many times have I been asked by message if this or that painting was sold after seeing it on Instagram. When you sell a quality object you have to share it to allow others to give it a second life or to enjoy it.

You must also take the time to add the dimensions, weight, origin, and give the history of this object. The more precise information there is, the more informed buyers will buy.

You also need to take good photos. I’m not a photographer but I learned that in a few clicks you can transform a photo. If possible, photograph your object on a white or neutral background. You should not hesitate to retouch the photo, especially the whites: as an artist for example, a buyer must identify the colors very well. The purpose of a photo is to give maximum detail on the real appearance of the object. Sometimes the whites will turn gray, and the object will lose its light, it is essential to take great photos.

The buyer comes first. As a seller it is important to be there for those who interest us. I always respond very quickly, I am available, and if someone asks me for advice or a problem: I do everything to make them satisfied. This is essential when you are a professional.

You must also always insure your object. With xcover, insurance only costs 1% of the sale price, and if it arrives broken then the item is refunded. It’s a must. And this allows the buyer to be refunded and you not to lose the sale. Better yet: everyone leaves happy and without ulcers waiting for Catawiki to find a solution.

You also need to take time to pack your item. A poorly packaged item says a lot about it. As a seller, I spend around twenty minutes packing a painting: bubble wrap, double-corrugated cardboard box, heavy tape. It’s essential, your customers give you the opportunity to move forward, so you have to package as if your object were the most precious it is. I love my art, I judge it very highly, I package it as well as possible.

Catawiki’s intelligent delivery is also a must, it helps you avoid mistakes, saves your customers money, and saves you time. I use it all the time, and as a seller it’s really a huge time saver.

Fees are also essential to understand. 12.5% fees, plus 2.5% VAT fees on sales. We therefore have to think about what we are going to have in the end without drawing plans on comets.

Finally, you also have to deliver your item quickly. Within 3 days. This is essential, you must never fall behind with orders, otherwise catching up on them becomes complex. In addition, delivering quickly guarantees that the buyer is happy, and that our payments arrive faster.

The last piece of advice I will give is the most important: always take responsibility. In our modern society too many people try to blame others, by assuming responsibilities and trying to satisfy the buyer as much as possible we participate in a virtuous circle which one day, I believe, will allow us too to get us out of missteps.