Thanks to the Internet, e-commerce businesses have been around for nearly twenty years now. Luckily, the online art industry does hang on to a small contingent of early adopters that have been deeply embedded within the web for several years now. Put all of it together, and this industry is in the middle of a huge new evolution. But while there are certainly no magic solutions to traditional galleries investigating e-commerce, a few counterintuitive and some important themes emerged out of conversations with a few of the more experienced veterans of the virtual space. Below, we’ve listed a few that may be of interest to you.
One of the biggest challenges for an online gallery is that of maintaining customer trust. After all, most of us have lived with the nightmare of purchasing art at an online gallery and then discovering that we have been cheated out of our money or that the piece isn’t really what we were told it was. Of course, this doesn’t happen all of the time, but it does from time to time. And as an artist working in this field, one needs to maintain a certain distance from the process in order to keep people working with you and trusting your work.
One of the biggest challenges for artists looking to sell their work online is that of dealing with shipping and refunds. This can often be a tricky proposition. Many of the most successful online sales and purchases today are made using a hosted solution for the selling aspect of the transaction. With a hosted solution, an artist who wants to sell some art doesn’t have to worry about dealing with the complications inherent in shipping and refunds and dealing with the hassle of actually finding an area in which to sell their work. Because the sale is taking place online, this task is taken care of for the artist with the hosted solution.
The same is true when it comes to selling one’s artwork through e-commerce. If an artist has an online gallery, there will likely be a way for the artist to display and sell their pieces on their website. If not, an artist will need to find a way to display and sell their art online on their own site. Either way, when an artist uses e-commerce to sell their artwork, they may face additional challenges that they would face had they chosen to sell their artwork through a traditional gallery setting. Here are some things to keep in mind when thinking about selling your art through e-commerce.
– Find a platform that is user-friendly and secure. E-commerce platforms differ considerably in how easy they are to use, how secure they are, how much information they require you to divulge and many other variables. You will want to research each platform extensively before you take the plunge and decide which one will work best for you and your gallery or store. Some artists have found great success selling their work through online services such as Cafepress, but others have not been successful.
– Think about selling directly through your e-commerce site or gallery. With the help of a private sales site or gallery, you will be able to market your art online to buyers. While it does take some of the artistic control away from you, if you can draw visitors to your site and maintain a steady flow of new art, it can be highly beneficial. Artists who rely solely on their own websites to sell their work can quickly lose business if they are unable to market their art effectively. Private sales sites and galleries also offer artists the opportunity to build strong customer relationships.
– Consider using shopping carts. Most e-commerce websites contain shopping carts, which allow buyers to easily purchase the pieces they are interested in without having to leave the page they are on. Many buyers prefer to see the entire piece online so using shopping carts in conjunction with your gallery or website allows buyers to see the work in its final format and order it from home, without leaving the comfort of their desk.
Selling art online has many advantages, but it does require a bit of time and thought when starting an artist’s website. The benefits of e-commerce for selling online include allowing artists the ability to market their work without having to leave the comfort of their home. With the added benefit of accepting payment through e-commerce sites and accepting multiple payment options, selling online has a lot of advantages for artist working across various mediums. Taking advantage of these benefits and learning how to properly set up your website will allow you to quickly build a thriving business that can sustain itself through years of operation.