Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Selling Art Online 2016: Part 2 - Online Platforms

One of the aspects I found interesting about The Hiscox Online Art Trade Report 2016 was the assessment and ranking of those sites used to generate the most online sales.

This post:
  • highlights the importance of social media
  • summarises the leading online art sales websites identified in the report, 
  • provides links to their websites to enable you to review them - and 
  • provides a summary comment of their activities.

See yesterday's post for Selling Art Online 2016 (Part 1: Key Points)

Personally I'd have liked to see a clearer split between
  • those online sites which are in the secondary art market selling fine art from the past and 
  • those which are selling predominantly contemporary art by artists alive today.
Maybe that will be a development for next year?

The other omission is any assessment or rating of the sites from an artist's perspective. Maybe that's something I could address if we did a survey?

Which sites generate online sales?

The role of social media

The report acknowledges the importance of social media. Indeed two sites - facebook and Instagram are very important to artists making sales online
Facebook and Instagram remain the preferred social media platforms for art buyers over the past two years.
Criucially, the importance of social media is also growing
31% of respondents acknowledged that social media influenced their art purchases, up from 24% in 2015.

Hiscox Online Art Platform Ranking 2016 – top 40

This is a new development in the report. Its aim is to provide some sort of customer experience guideline to those looking to use some of the sites in the future for their art purchases.

The ranking in no way makes an assessment of how the sites work from the artists's perspective and indeed for some of the sites an artist is unlikely to have access except via a gallery or approved account.

Page 9 of the report provides a table which lists and ranks different sites in terms of:
  • number of visitors (#1 is Artnet)
  • number of purchases generated (#1 is eBay Art)
  • visitor experience (#1 is Christies Live)
  • buyer experience (#1 is Sotheby'sBidNow)
The fact is that a relatively few sites currently dominate the marketplace.

The top ten key players (based on their aggregated ranking) are listed below. Links in the names are to the websites of these art sales sites
  1. Christie’s LIVE 
  2. Artsy
  3. Artnet 
  4. Sotheby’s BIDnow 
  5. Paddle8 
  6. Saatchi Art
  7. 1stdibs 
  8. Artspace
  9. Auctionata
  10. eBay Art 
Amazon Art would have been up there in the top 10 if it were not for its absolutely appalling rating for 'visitor experience' (ie #37 out of 40).
More than half of total online art sales are driven by rapidly growing online art and collectibles auction platforms such as 1stdibs, Auctionata and Paddle8, auction aggregators such as The-saleroom.com, LiveAuctioneers.com and Invaluable.com and also traditional auction houses such as Heritage Auction, Sotheby’s and Christie’s. Online sales generated by these companies account for an estimated 58% of the $3.27 billion online sales total. Hiscox Methodology Note
However the number of sites is growing. The report lists at the end all the ones it is aware of, however a number of them were not listed in the survey as they were too new.

Interestingly the report notes that most buyers tend to stick to a few sites and are "sticky" in their allegiance to the ones they've tried.

Below I've highlighted a number of the sites with comments.

What I find very noticeable is how much trouble most of these websites have gone to in terms of having very contemporary websites which work well with mobile devices.

If you are looking to sell art online - or maybe change the site you sell with at present, the Hiscox Online Art Platform Ranking 2016 is a good place to start!

Traditional Auction Sites (Online)

These are the sites of the traditional auction houses who have now developed sites dedicated to online followers. (Less "on the phone" and more "on the screen").

Online Auction Houses

These are pure online companies whose sites streamline the auction experience and make it easy for participants. Online sales doubled in 2015 for the two sites listed below.
  • Auctionata  This leading online auction house for art and luxury collectibles is the biggest auction house in Germany. It operates globally (offices in New York, London, Zurich, Rome and Madrid) and invented the livestream auction. It acquired ValueMyStuff in September 2015.
  • Paddle8 - Founded in 2011, this is an online auction house based in New York selling fine art, design, collectibles, and jewelry

Online 3rd party websites

These are sites which enable galleries to have an online presence for their art and makes art from those galleries accessible to art buyers.
  • Artnet - auction sales calendar - enables collectors to preview sales and then watch lots in live online sales - and place bids. Emphasis is on Modern and contemporary works.
  • Artsy - for online collectors - a resource for art collecting and art education. Its online site which connects galleries with online collectors
  • 1stDibs - describes itself as "the world's leading online marketplace for the most beautiful things on earth?  Emphasis on interior design and decoration.
  • Ocula - an in-depth guide to current exhibitions at more than 165 galleries worldwide. Basically providing an online and marketing service for galleries

Aggregator sites

These are sites which aggregate information from different auction sites
  • Invaluable - an aggregator site (with growth of 60% in 2015) across different categories of items sold online by premier auction houses and galleries. It enables you to register to bid on live auctions. Interestingly it categories by type of object and is silent on the name of artists.  However if you know the name of an artist you're interested in (eg. Wolf Kahn) you can enter it and it will produce images and details of artworks and where they are listed. In August, Invaluable announced that it was Sotheby’s core technologypartner for online bidding.
Invaluable is Sotheby's core technology partner for online bidding. Sotheby’s uses Invaluable’s tools as the single online bidding platform to power sales on sothebys.com and eBay.com/sothebys. Invaluable’s technology manages the bids placed in real-time from online bidders and communicates these to the auctioneer in the salesroom, making it faster and easier for the auctioneer to acknowledge online bids during live sales.
Screenshot of the result of a search for artwork by Wolf Kahn on the Invaluable website
- and the selection of one pastel drawing

  • The Saleroom - Europe’s leading portal for fine art and antiques auctions which is now mobile-friendly. In In 2015, thesaleroom.com hosted 5,100 live and timed auctions, partnered with over 500 auction houses and sold 634,000 lots online.

More about the Art Business

You can find out more about the Art Business on my website Art Business Info for Artists and its brand NEW associated  Facebook Page

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