Selling On-Line & the New Generation of Art & Contemporary Craft Buyers
Emma Bell·May 20, 2018
I recently took part in an Instagram hashtag called #myshoplife2018 which was an absolute blast. We had to write something each day on a variety of topics some serious and some a little more light-hearted. If you fancy taking a look then our Instagram page is “mulberrytreegallery” and we’d love to see you over on there as well!
One of the topics we were asked to write about was our online shop and it was fascinating reading what other galleries do in regard to selling online.
We’ve had a web shop for over 10 years now and about a quarter of our sales come through this channel, which I still find astounding, and for those of you on the receiving end of a parcel from us you know that we’ve sent them all over the world including the USA, Canada, Australia, most countries in Europe and the far east including Singapore – amazing!
What I found fascinating about other galleries responses to the post were the number who seemed to either not sell online or flatly refused to do so, citing that art and contemporary craft needed to be seen before being purchased. To some extent I wouldn’t disagree with this view but as galleries we have to face the reality that the next generation of art and contemporary craft buyers are very social media savvy and do a huge proportion of their buying online. It may seem strange to some of us that people are willing to buy expensive originals and hand-crafted products without physically seeing or touching them but as retailers we have to create buying avenues for all our customers including those known in the media as the “millennials”.
Millennials, also known as Generation Y, are those born roughly between the early 80s to the late 90s and they are increasingly shaping the future of retail trends and have been a huge influence in the rise of brands communicating with their customers via social media and online.
We can either bemoan the fact that a lot of our customers consider 24/7/365 access to us as standard now or we can look at the best way to embrace this within our business model. I don’t believe that it means we do everything that the big brands do – they have whole departments dedicated to their social media presence and websites but I do believe we need to give careful consideration to the next generation of our potential buyers and how we intend to ensure they spend their hard earned pennies and pounds with us even when they don’t cross our shop’s threshold.
I also see our online presence as another way that the gallery can support its artists and makers and it means that our reach is now global and not just reliant upon someone coming through our doors. With an online presence our customer base has shifted from thousands to potentially billions!