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How to Streamline Your Shipping Process

An interview with Upela

· Gallery Resources

Acquiring art doesn’t just consist of the purchase. It’s a holistic process that takes into account the packaging, delivery, customer communication and care of shipping from door to door. After all, when choosing to make considerable investments, your clients want to make sure that your shipping provider reflects the quality of the work that they are buying. Such a process can however be time-consuming and energy intensive to take care of for an artist or gallery. This is why Artsper spoke to Upela, an international shipping coordinator, to better understand how to streamline your shipping process and save precious time!

All quotations throughout the article have been provided by Upela.

Streamlining a complicated process

The founders of Upela were frustrated by how complicated it was for businesses and clients to choose between so many available delivery options. For what should be a relatively simple task, the myriad of choices spread over multiple platforms creates a confusing and time consuming process, making life more difficult for clients, rather than easier. This is where Upela saw the need for an all-inclusive solution, bringing together leaders in the industry from UPS to DHL to Chronopost, under the umbrella of their site. According to Upela:

We act as the bridge between our clients and leading global-shipping providers. With Upela, our customers have access to expert service, as well as dedicated tools allowing them to group together their shipments and save time, all while having access to negotiated fares.

Upela groups all the leading delivery services on its site, to work out what is the best possible solution for your needs. © Upela

Internal communication is key: choose a provider you can trust

Efficiency starts from within, and as such when looking to streamline your shipping solutions, look to a company that favors internal communication, and fosters a nurturing relationship with its clients. According to the platform; “Maintaining a good relationship with our customers and shipping providers is crucial, with some of our largest clients having been with us since 2015.” In 2023, a transparent relationship with your clients and good customer service are perhaps the two most important factors in determining return business, with 89% of Americans being more likely to make another purchase after a positive customer service experience. Upela continues:

We are a tight-knit team, and internal collaboration is key to our business model. Having a smaller team allows greater flexibility.”

Be it a painting, a sculpture or a design piece, your work is fragile and needs the utmost care taken when being delivered. Pictured: Junior Fritz Jacquet, Starry 50, 2021, available on Artsper.

As a gallery or artist, chances are you want to choose a shipping solutions service that is not only efficient, but also one that you can trust, so that your works are delivered in the best possible condition, you are kept up to date at each step of the process, and that your client will be equally satisfied with the service provided.

Think about the experience and expertise of the service providers

When presented with what can seem like an overwhelming choice of options, why not let someone else do the logistical thinking for you? Opt for a transport solution service with a broad knowledge of the industry, whether that be choosing which delivery service to use, or navigating paperwork. According to Upela; “We’re lucky enough to work with a diverse range of different industries, and as such we’re always making sure that we are as up to date as possible on all the different bases, in order to accompany our customers every step of the way.”

Over the years, the transport solutions provider has developed an expansive know-how on different shipping providers and their functionings. Having such an encompassing knowledge of the industry allows shipping solutions to be untied easily and efficiently on its platform. Upela’s industry knowledge is then grouped together on a central interface: a TMS (transport management system). They also have an Application Programming Interface (API) which automatically refreshes their system with the latest updates from our different partners.

Our aim has always been to combine technology and our own knowledge of the industry. We have managed to develop a solution which allows clients to choose, in real time, the best possible shipping solution.”

Upela is available to both one-time or returning customers, and navigates tariff negotiation for you. Galleries and artists just need to log into their account, provide the relevant shipping information (weight and dimensions - regardless of the size of the package), and then Upela’s system will take care of the rest, negotiating the best possible tariffs for the shipment. It’s that simple.

A clear, easy to use interface takes out any unnecessary stress that you may face when shipping works. © Upela

A clear understanding of the red tape is crucial

Whether you have years of experience or this is your first time, navigating the red tape when shipping art internationally can be difficult for artists and galleries. That’s why it’s important to choose a shipping coordinator who understands the ins and outs of the industry, in order for your delivery to go as smoothly as possible. From the get-go, Upela’s team contacts the gallery or artist in order to better understand where they intend on sending the work, to work out which shipping provider they should choose, what import taxes need to be paid, and what forms need to be filled-in.

Upela’s aim is to provide a negotiated tariff no matter the destination, type of shipment, or weight: these are the three bases that they try to cover. As well as providing the client with the best possible offer, Upela also helps to negotiate factors that they may not be able to do by themselves, through their well structured framework and many contacts within the industry.

Art comes in all shapes and sizes, but there’s a shipping solution out there no matter the dimensions of your work. Pictured: Humberto da Mata, Table basse Orgus N.01, 2022, available on Artsper.

What to keep in mind…

Choosing a shipping provider can be tough no matter your level of experience as a gallery or artist. That’s why coordinating your shipments through a transport solutions platform, such as Upela, is an efficient and cost-effective way to streamline your delivery needs. Through combining all the relevant information from leading transport companies, along with clear access to vital paperwork and a start-to-finish accompaniment along the process, a shipping coordinator can help ease some of the stresses that come with sending art to your clients. After all, the quality of the delivery should reflect the quality of the works you sell, and choosing the right provider is not only vital to your brand image and customer experience, but also to your peace of mind as a gallery or artist.


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