Art galleries need to understand better what motivates and discourages collectors from purchasing artwork online. Understanding the collector’s perspective will help drive your online sales strategy.
What the Data Says about the Online Art Market
Surveys of art collectors over the last few years have revealed existing collectors use online markets to search, discover, follow, and also buy art. Collectors who are already familiar with a gallery or artist are more active in acquiring art online than new buyers. Photography, paintings, and prints perform the best. Not really surprising.
Price transparency is an essential factor for new art buyers. In fact, 90% of new buyers and 92% of small spenders said that price transparency was a key consideration when buying art online.
So the takeaway is galleries need to focus on building relationships and trust with online viewers, regardless of the channel; website, art platform or social media.
Online art sales platforms are increasingly popular with galleries. They have to potential to significantly expand your visibility. However, they are not a silver bullet for success, and they can be expensive. Art collectors are not necessarily loyal to a particular platform. Critical to your online sale strategy is your gallery must have a process in place to nurture that relationship post-sale to earn loyalty and repeat revenue.
Information is Money in the Online Art World
For art collectors, this level of comprehensive information will become increasingly important in the decision-making process and establishing a trusted online relationship with an art gallery. Reputation is built from doing business with transparency. Without it, your online sales efforts will not be as productive for acquiring and nurturing new art collectors. Your ability to find new art collectors is your gallery’s future.
Useful information goes beyond an artist’s bio or curatorial dialogues about an exhibition. Collectors also expect to see:
- return policies
- customer reviews and testimonials
- condition reports
- authenticity information
Galleries still tend to encourage curious collectors still to contact the gallery to learn more or ask questions. Collectors fear this will put them in an uncomfortable sales situation for which they may not be ready.
The Human Element of Selling Art Online
If your gallery is resisting taking your online sales strategy to the next level for fear of losing the human side of doing business, I assure your collectors are worried about the same thing. There are things you can do to encourage prospects to engage with you. Simply placing a contact form, email inquiry button, chatbot or phone number directly on the page with each artwork can be surprisingly useful in getting people to contact the gallery. Offering video conferencing is another excellent way to use technology to maintain the human element of your gallery-client relationship.
Once a sale is made online, either through your website or another channel, you still have the opportunity to connect with the buyer and begin to nurture that relationship. Finding and creating a positive customer journey with the ultimate goal of increasing sales and loyalty must become a marketing habit.
Collecting Art is a Multichannel Experience
You are now representing your artists as a multichannel experience. The majority of art collectors first look online, primarily on social media, to discover artists. Word of mouth referrals is the second most common way people find new art.
Multichannel means prospects are opening a gallery email newsletter, surfing their social media accounts or scrolling through an art app, such as 1stdibs or ArtCloud. If your gallery does not have a useful presence on your online channels that address the collector’s perspective, you are not likely to see positive results. With competition growing online, the devil is in the details.
Regularly perform an audit on each of your online channels to ensure quality and consistency.
Art collectors are not just on Instagram or Facebook. The reality is most of your social media followers will not even see your posts due to new algorithms. Prospective and existing collectors won’t visit your gallery website several times a month to see what is new. Mailing list subscribers will not always open your gallery newsletter. Today, you need to have a diverse mix of online sales channels to be seen and heard.
To the Point
Selling online is a different experience from selling in the gallery. To do it well you must put yourself in the online buyer’s shoes and understand their expectations.
As you adopt a multichannel sales experience online, the process gets more complicated, but the opportunities are vast. To stay on top of things, designate one internet savvy person to manage your gallery’s online presence. Having dedicated talent helps ensure consistency across all channels. Get prepared in advance and don’t take on more than you can handle. It is better to use a few online channels well than to be everywhere badly.
The human element is always going to be necessary for the gallery/collector relationship. Put a process in place to nurture that relationship and ask for feedback so your business can continue to improve. Focus your efforts on building a solid online reputation by ensuring buyer’s concerns are addressed through useful information and clearly defined policies and processes. This is critical to success.
The online art market is growing fast. Your gallery business, large or small, can be a part of it and become an online tastemaker.