A memorable buying experience has greater importance to affluent collectors who have many choices. Their choice is often influenced by which channel or seller offers the best art buying experience for them.
Does your art gallery’s buyer experience need to be modernized?
Here we will explore a few ways you can increase art sales by providing exceptional buying experiences before, during, and after a sale.
Excellent service and meaningful information have always been a significant way to attract and cultivate new collectors. Buyers today, especially younger ones, are more apt to spend with unique buying experiences. It influences who they do business with.
Elements of a Modernized Art Gallery Buying Experience
It is time to modernize to meet the expectations of art lovers visiting or buying art from your gallery.
Storefront.com is an online marketplace for renting short term retail space for pop-up galleries. They identified elements of a robust retail buyer experience for today’s shopper expectations. Several could be applied to running an art gallery. These elements are from case studies observations of retailers who were doing innovative things with their in-store buying experiences.
To some degree, the art gallery sector could incorporate these elements to reinvent the art buying experience, while strengthening the relevance of art galleries in the art market.
Consider my interpretation of four of these elements for running a gallery business that provides a fantastic experience to its collector base.
For art galleries, providing an interactive experience providing a greater variety of ways to do, see, and learn about art and interact with your artists. Examples are studio tour field trips, virtual events, workshops, participatory activities centered around a show.
You are most likely already offering ways to interact as part of the experience. Just ensure you stay consistent and look for ways to keep things fresh.
This element is easier for a gallery because you have so much original art and creative thoughts coming from your artists. However, as we saw above, originality of the experience one has viewing and interacting with the art can always evolve to retain a sense of uniqueness.
Originality can come from ensuring the experience you offer differs from that of your competitors. We will look at some ideas below.
Many people who are financially able to collect art, find it difficult to connect to a lot of contemporary art. This makes it vital for a gallery to foster connectedness through opportunities to learn and appreciate art both online and in-person, as we talked about with interactiveness and originality. But connectedness means seeing the relevance too.
Making the relevancy of an artwork, body of work, or exhibition clear to your gallery’s different buyer personas is essential. People are curious, but it is sometimes difficult to form a connection to contemporary art if they don’t understand it and can’t make a connection to their values or beliefs. This can often hold people back from wanting to add art to their homes.
Let’s face it – some art needs explaining to form an appreciation of and connection.
This last element was not part of the storefront’s case study findings, but I believe it is critical to the gallery sector’s future success. The art world needs to make the process of buying art more transparent. Publishing pricing is just one vital part of transparency.
Buyers want information immediately. It’s easy to meet this need by simply beefing up your website and proactively answering common questions in your sales emails. Questions like:
- What’s the return policy?
- Is there a payment plan?
- Can they wire funds?
- Can you change or add a frame?
- Will the gallery install?
- What documentation do you provide with a purchase?
Increased transparency makes a significant contribution to the buying experience for your clients.
Adding these elements into your gallery’s buying experience will also help to convert non-collecting art lovers into active collectors of art and enthusiastic advocates of your gallery.
Doing that is a major challenge these days. Do you agree?
Assess your Art Gallery Mission, Value & Processes when Designing a Collector Buying Experience
Begin by reflecting on your gallery’s mission and the value you offer clients. Also, review the processes in place to deliver exceptional customer service throughout the buyer’s journey.
Examine each step your collectors take with your gallery from discovery to purchase to identify gaps where you might add some of the elements mentioned above.
Managing your gallery’s customer experience really can improve your business processes in different areas and ultimately help you to achieve your gallery’s business goals.
Documenting processes helps create consistency and set expectations from everyone client-facing in the gallery.
Ideas to Improve the Buying Experience in your Gallery
Finding ways to enhance the overall buying experience for your clients is often as simple as keeping your eye on other businesses you admire to see what they are doing. Their ideas may translate into your strategy.
Here are a few ideas that are inexpensive and straightforward to implement in your gallery.
Form collaborations to expand the collector’s experience
Your gallery might create a collaboration with other galleries in the area and even different kinds of businesses to offer an art event where local collectors can see many works at once. This allows locals the enjoy the benefits and convenience of an art fair while experiencing art in a potentially new way.
Art galleries in Richmond, Virginia, do this. They work together to create an annual local/regional art fair. It gets bigger and better every year. Check out the case study to learn more.
Promote how fun and unique a private showing appointment can be
Actively promote and encourage your client base to make an appointment with a gallery consultant for a private showing. Many galleries note on their contact page that they are available by appointment, but the benefits of doing so are rarely mentioned. Promote it as an experience and design it to be one.
These appointments can be structured to make any prospective buyer feel like a VIP. Create a process for what this experience is like before, during, and after an appointment. You can promote the experience to encourage these interactions, which often increases the likelihood of closing a sale.
Over-deliver when it comes to customer service.
When a collector sees that your gallery genuinely cares about their experience, this creates a dedicated gallery advocate. The more reliable your gallery customer service is, the more likely collectors are going to trust buying from you again and refer you to friends.
Brainstorm on ways your gallery can add to the customer service aspect of buying (or selling) art from your gallery.
Provide information that inspires and answers buying questions
Your prospective buyers are online researching art before they buy. Not being able to find the information they need can be frustrating and send them to a competitor.
Review your gallery’s overall marketing and sales messaging on your website and social media.
- Are you providing enough educational information for collectors who want to research before purchasing?
- Is that information easy to find and consume?
- Do you suggest the next step with a clear call to action?
If you don’t already, consider adding educational events, in the gallery or virtually, to your buyer’s experience. Ensure these events are promoted in a non-salesy way and that the benefits of attending are crystal clear. The goal is to get them into the gallery or registered for a virtual event. Purely educational events also help eliminate any intimidation a new collector may feel.
For example, some galleries host intimate, ticketed, sit down dinners in the gallery as a fresh way of interacting with and connecting to art. The artist talks you host are another example.
Shared values through social conscientiousness
Today buyers want to feel good about expensive luxury purchases. Make the experience of acquiring art also impact a worthy cause.
Supporting a local charity is a great way to stand out in your community as well.
As a brand strategy for your art gallery, you might commit to a single cause to support long-term. It could be something local or something art related that ties into your gallery’s mission.
Added a social conscientious element delivers more than what is expected in a buying experience.
Treat Your Best Collectors Extra Special
It’s likely a good percentage of your gallery’s sales come from just a handful of collectors. When you provide something to their experience that is extra special, clients will remember that and continue to support your gallery in many ways.
Here are just a few ways you provide perks.
- Exclusive gallery happenings
- Send beautifully wrapped little gifts throughout the year, especially around the holidays or when you ship art to a buyer. Such a gesture would make anyone feel special and appreciated.
- Earned discounts that get larger with every purchase or with every referral.
To the Point
Art collectors have many options for buying art. The experience each offers influences their decisions. The gallery buying experience could modernize to better match people’s shopping expectations and to help strengthen the gallery’s relevancy in the art market.
Look for ways you can add originality, interactiveness, connectedness, and transparency into the experience of dealing with your gallery. Providing a memorable and fun experience throughout the customer journey will help increase traffic in the gallery and visibility online. When that happens, referrals increase too.
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