How to convince reluctant collectors to buy art online?

The major challenges of online art market players explained

The online art buying attract more and more, especially the marketplaces on which collectors bought twice more in 2015 than in 2014 (according to the recent 2016 Hiscox report on the online art market). These studies on the habits of online art buyers reveal that some reservations still remain and challenge online art sellers. These issues, inherent to the e-commerce, fortunately have a couple of solutions that the galleries can easily apply. 

A purchase based on a digital image

The biggest obstacle to buying art online is the inability to inspect the work firsthand. Buyers generally base their purchase on a digital image of the object with a description, so they are afraid of the work being different from its digital representation.

This is why it is essential to provide high resolution images, the colors on screen are consistent with those of the physical work and on which the proportions are respected. Do not hesitate to provide multiple images for paintings, illustrations, photographs and editions; 360 views for sculptures are also appreciated.

Doubts about the authenticity and reliability

Some collectors fear more counterfeiting when purchasing a work online than when they directly buy from the gallery or at auction. It is often after receiving their first artwork purchased online that they more easily trust the gallery and the platform that relays it.


That is why it is important to provide the information needed to authenticate a work. The description must contain the following details: single work or number of editions, artist's signature and date of creation. It is essential to then provide a certificate of authenticity when the artworks is delivered.

This certificate must follow specific rules: an original printing on thick quality paper, reinforced by the printed header of the gallery, dated, signed and stamped by the creator of the art object (the editor the work, an established dealer, the agent of the artist or a recognized expert of the artist's work), precision of the number of editions, the year of production and the location of the signing of the artist.

This document is expected in perfect condition, unfolded, slipped into an envelope or plastic pocket. You will be assured to satisfy your customer and build confidence.

The lack of information on the subject

The status of an online purchase of art is a source of concern for the buyer. Get a report on the status of conservation before the sale would increase the buyer confidence through a secondary sale (sale of the auction item, for example) but also in the context of a primary sale (directly by the artist or the gallery).

Having been assured of the good state of the artwork, the potential buyer expects the answers to his questions about the artist and the work he intends to acquire. The contact with the gallery at the time of the survey is crucial. You are responsible for communicating information about the artist and the meaning of the work as you would have done if the buyer was at your gallery.

The issues of transport and logistics

When shipping a work purchased online, collectors expect impeccable service. The conditions for packaging and delivery should be standardized and specified at the time of purchase. The buyer expects that the delivery time and status of the work on arrival will be the same provided by the gallery before the sell.

It is good to guarantee delivery by specialized carrier, insurance during shipping, a short delivery time and a right of withdrawal (according to the law of e-commerce platforms). Also be sure to detail the secure payment arrangements and the provenance of the artworks.

Kenza Zidi

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