Whilst some galleries and fairs have long since understood the interest in online sales, this is not yet the case for the majority of players in the art world. Since lockdown, the gap has widened between those who have embraced e-commerce platforms and the others, who are more cautious about the idea of getting started. And yet, the opportunities are real. Indeed, the habits of collectors have changed in the few months of lockdown, with online purchases featuring more prominently than ever.
Hence why today, online art platforms such as Artsper are becoming essential partners for galleries. After having deciphered the consequences of this crisis on the market, our team of experts lifts the veil on the preconceptions surrounding online sales to give you our best advice.
Buyers are not who you expect them to be!
For several years now, Artsper has been helping its partner galleries on a daily basis to establish their online presence. With the compulsory closure of galleries and the cancellation of fairs, the web has become the only way to make sales. However, fear or lack of information about who the online buyers are has slowed down some galleries. This hesitancy is perfectly understandable... Based on years of experience as an online sales platform, Artsper has conducted an analysis of its customers. The verdict? Online collectors are largely the same as those who buy in person.
In fact, e-commerce has profoundly revolutionised consumer habits. A finding that is true for all sectors of activity and all age groups! We must therefore free ourselves from the myth that online shoppers are under 30 years old. Thanks to its practicality and omnipresence in our daily lives, the internet has become the first port of call for many. The lockdown has further reinforced this, by forcing the hand of certain sceptical collectors .
Of course, it is not a magic formula either, and some buyers will remain reluctant to online purchasing. Nevertheless, online sales are a valuable asset to broaden your customer base, offer a new way for your clients to acquire artwork and establish your reputation, which the current crisis has confirmed.
Good reflexes make all the difference
The buyer's profile may not be significantly different online, however the buying process is. Certain details can have huge consequences... Indeed, the collector does not benefit from the precious advice of the seller, or even from the possibility of visualising themselves with the work as it appears in real life.
Thus the element of reassurance plays a crucial role. It is something that will help the client to have as few hesitations as possible. Help your buyer to understand the work, to imagine it in their home, give them as much practical information as possible (dimensions, materials, frame provided or not, technique used etc.). Also make sure you remove all the classic obstacles of buying online: delivery, transport, return conditions etc. These are all points that reassure, and thus help to convince, your potential buyer by providing a smooth service.
The choice of photos is also essential, both in terms of quality and quantity. Don't forget that the collector can't get close to the work, but they still want to examine it from every angle before making up their mind!
Finally, some galleries still have the habit of not displaying their prices, a phenomenon that is still evolving. But on the internet, prices are a determining factor. Not displaying them forces the buyer to look for the information themselves, which can discourage them... For this reason and for the sake of transparency, Artsper has decided to make the price of all works visible.
Online, your objective is therefore to allow a sales process that is as smooth as possible, by eliminating potential obstacles.
See your online presence as a strength for your gallery
Whether you’re already on an online sales platform or social media, we advise you to ‘editorialise’ your content as much as possible, i.e. personalise it and experiment with storytelling. As previously mentioned, it is important to reassure the buyer so that they can see how the piece can work for them. Create commitment and arouse emotions through role-playing or ‘view in a room’, which allows the collector to visualise themselves with the work. Help your artists to be visible on social media, which leads to loyalty and interest in your gallery.
And in practice? On Instagram and Facebook, announce your upcoming exhibitions and highlight the work of your artists. Regular publications and videos will lead to even more impressive results.
All of these tips are essential to ensure a successful digital strategy. A good management of your online presence, and social networks in particular, will sustainably promote sales.
Your gallery, your strategy
Looking on the bright side, lockdown will have had a positive impact in some ways, particularly in terms of digital innovations. For example, the David Zwirner gallery has increased the number of videos and online exhibitions on their website to attract the attention of collectors. But the majority of galleries do not have the time or means to create their own interactive experiences... In this case, online sales sites are often the best option.
It can be frightening to see what large galleries, located all over the world, can undertake. But don't be afraid! That's not to say that a smaller gallery can't do well too. We strongly recommend that you keep a close watch and carefully follow what your direct competitors and the most innovative players in the market are doing - they are valuable sources of inspiration.
To conclude: Better to be prepared
As we saw during the Covid-19 crisis, galleries that did not yet have an online presence were undeniably in a weaker position. One conclusion is clear: do not postpone necessary long-term investments any longer, in the interest of your gallery’s development.
In difficult times, you have to be reactive and make the right decisions. As you have surely noticed, a digital strategy is not created overnight. And at the same time, this forced shutdown will have allowed you to rethink your established mechanics, to take risks and learn from your mistakes, as Galerie Brugier Rigail confided to us in an interview. Now that the reopening has begun, take stock of your strengths and weaknesses in order to rebuild the future on a strong foundation. And thanks to these few tips, you will know exactly what to expect!