Is Online Commerce Helping or Hurting You?

Online shopping and selling is a huge trend that is getting stronger all the time. Managing how your work is sold online is an important consideration for any artist.

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It’s a fact of life: many artists want (and need) to create multiple streams of income for their business. They may be wholesaling to galleries and retailers, selling retail at fairs and shows, taking commissions, and perhaps making online sales as well.

On the internet, artists might have an Etsy shop, they may have a shopping cart on their own website, or they may be selling through hundreds of third-party websites and other options. Are you one of them? Then be aware that sometimes your work might end up somewhere online that you don’t know about and don’t wish to be connected with.

For example, artists selling their work through Amazon may have images of their items copied and used on any number of websites through an affiliate program with the massive retailer called “aStore” which literally happens at the click of a mouse by installing a Word Press plugin.  This could include your items, which will appear with whatever other products the webmaster chooses, without your knowledge.

When you sign up with a retailer like Amazon which has this kind of program, you give permission for this to happen. Get clear on contract terms and their ramifications before agreeing to anything.

Your art business has a brand, and a message that you want understood by your collectors and your buyers. Consider carefully how the sales venues where your work appears will affect the brand you have worked hard to build.

Where do you want your work to be sold? It matters. Knowing who is showing and selling your line involves making decisions that not only keep you in control of your online presence, but have a lot of influence on your relationships with your current wholesale accounts.

  • Would you make an agreement with an online site that wanted you to drop ship individual pieces to their customers?
  • Would you list your work on a giant shopping site?
  • Is your work most effectively sold through brick and mortar stores?
  • Do you seek more exclusive retailers to be associated with?
  • Would online sales interfere with exclusivity agreements that you have with current customers?

What is your experience? Have you done well with online sales? Has it affected your brick and mortar sales positively or negatively?


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