Buying art is not a new concept. A profitable market for these unique products has been evident throughout history. For over a decade, in addition to traditional art galleries, art has also been available from a variety of online galleries. According to IBISWorld, in 2011 there was a 288 million dollar revenue generated in online art sales in the US (IBISWorld, 2011).
Therefore, why are art fans still skeptical about buying artwork online? Is it the fear of purchasing an art piece and then being disappointed once it arrives to their home? Is it not having an art guru next to them guiding them throughout the process? No matter what the customer’s needs are, if a brick and mortar gallery can meet them, an online gallery will be able to do so as well.
Many customers feel that the main benefits of buying an art piece in a traditional gallery include the ability to see it in front of them and to have a gallery employee answer questions regarding the piece or the artist. Nowadays, most online art galleries have flexible return policies, which allow the customer to have artwork delivered to their chosen location and keep it for a stipulated timeframe. The customer can place the art piece in their desired area and determine how they feel about it. If the customer is not happy with their purchase, they can return the product. Additionally, if the customer has questions about a certain artist, they can research their data online as well. With today’s easy access to information, a customer can find objective answers to their questions instead of getting a sales pitch from a gallery employee who might be pushing sales by a specific artist.
Art seems to be an intimidating and complicated concept to most people. I believe that traditional galleries are the biggest contributors to this matter. Their typical formal setting makes some people uncomfortable and by default scares them away. Online art galleries offer artwork for customers in a comfortable environment. This buying method offers customers the access to purchase their favorite art piece from the comfort of their home, workplace, coffee shop, etc. There is no pushy salesperson staring at the customer while they stare at art. Furthermore, customers can sport their choice of attire every time they visit any of the online galleries. They can even browse through multiple galleries simultaneously.
Another benefit online art galleries have is that every artist is a “local” artist. By this, I mean that a local artist in a traditional gallery can mainly expose his/her art to his/her local community, county, state and maybe even neighboring states. An artist who sells his/her work online becomes a “local” artist for billions of customers around the globe. A customer who cannot afford to visit a certain country to acquire artwork from their favorite artist can still have the option of purchasing the same artwork online and have it delivered safely to their doorstep. With online galleries, art fans are no longer limited to purchasing art from their local galleries or having to travel for hours or days to access their desired piece.
There are benefits to acquiring an art piece from a brick and mortar art gallery, but do they really outweigh the benefits of an online gallery? From accessing unique art at any time of the day to admiring your favorite piece from another continent, the benefits of an online gallery are just too many to ignore. Adapting to this method of acquiring artwork might be too radical for some customers; but just like they have adapted to buying other products through the Internet, they will also adapt to purchasing art online. Although change is not something most people are comfortable with, it is inevitable. So the next time someone asks about buying art online, ask them: why not?