ecommerce for art galleries

Using eCommerce to Supplement your Art Gallery Business Model

Why bringing your art gallery online with an eCommerce site is essential in today’s day and age, some of the huge benefits of doing so, and how to get started today.

As is widely documented, there is a major disruption currently taking place in the art market.

This disruption is occurring because the online art market is increasingly cannibalizing sales traditionally made offline.

If you’re an art gallery owner or an art publisher, you probably are already aware of this – but perhaps not the true extent of this shift.

Here’s a cliff notes view of the most important stats:

Must-Know Stats About Online Art Sales

  • According to the BBC, 2013 was the first year that more art was sold online than in galleries.
  • In Insurance agency Hiscox’s 2016 online art market report revealed the most popular art medium online is paintings.

    Nope, not cheap open edition prints – paintings. is the leading example of this. Limited edition prints are second (see
  • The value of the online art market was $1 billion in 2013, on track for $2.64 billion in 2015, and is projected to be worth $6.3 billion in 2019.
  • The rules are changing, and the online art market continues to force the new and old art worlds to adapt. Going forward it will be critical to offer potential art buyers a choice of channels (offline and online) when acquiring art.
  • Browsing increasingly translates into online sales. The average time spent per visitor will become a significant business driver, as time spent on each site increasingly translates into sales.

  • Among those aged 35 and under, 19% said they preferred the online experience. This suggests that art buyers, particularly younger art buyers, are becoming less dependent on the physical gallery or auction house as a destination to buy art. This signals that online platforms play an important role as an entry point for new buyers.

websites for art galleries

Aside from the stats there are now tons of real world examples. Here at Art Storefronts, we have equipped some of the highest online-selling artists, photographers, and art galleries in the world. And this is not sales speak – If you want to see this backed up with data, contact us.

Needless to say, the online channel is playing an increasingly important role in driving buy behavior, and all the data shows that this will only increase in the coming years.

online art gallery

Therefore, if you are in the business of selling art, it stands to reason that the online channel should play some role in your current strategy. Just what that role is, we will explore in this article.

Different Art Retailers have Different Needs

art gallery ecommerce

The Originals-Only Art Gallery that Caters Strictly to High Net Worth Individuals

For these businesses, its not about making sales through the website. When you are selling art at really steep prices ($5,ooo+), the transaction will more than likely end up taking place in person.

Instead, the online channel and the experience it provides should be viewed as a critical supplement that will help attract new buyers (both domestically and internationally) and at the same time maintain a first-class experience while potential buyers are not physically in your art gallery.

Here’s why:

High net worth individuals tend to be the busiest people on the planet. Make things easier for them, and you’ll sell more. Make things a little difficult, and they’ll find better things to do with their time. The online channel is the easiest way for this group of people to see what you offer and how you offer it.

High net worth individuals have extremely high expectations. Therefore, the online experience you provide must be commensurate with the prices you are asking offline. Otherwise, there is incongruence. Why should they spend large amounts with you when you don’t invest in providing them with the best experience? The online experience you offer to help move them along towards a purchasing decision must be top class.

Provide high net worth individuals with the best experience from top to bottom, and you’ll maximize your chances that they return. Just ask the Ritz Carlton or the Four Seasons. Both are multi-billion dollar brands that sell experience to high net worth individuals.

All in all, high end art galleries should be leveraging the online channel as a supplement to help drive sales. It will only make them better at what they currently do.

The Mid-Level Art Gallery that Sells Both Originals & Limited Editions

limited edition prints

These businesses should consider the online channel as both a supplement to help attract new potential buyers and drive sales of very expensive pieces and also — as evidenced by and who are selling millions in expensive pieces of art per year — as a means to actually drive sales, right through your website.

As the online art market continues to disrupt the offline market, it is in your best interests to start positioning your business to thrive in the online space. You may use the online channel primarily as a supplement now, but as time progresses, sales will slowly start to shift from offline to online.

This will happen particularly as wealthy individuals who are currently in their late thirties and below (who are more tech savvy) continue to grow older and become the largest contingent of the art buyers. This is not a matter of if, its only a matter of when.

The Art Gallery that Sells Open Editions

These businesses should consider the online channel as a serious way to driving sales directly through your website, no different than or

At No Other Time Has Their Been a Greater Opportunity

websites for art galleries

At no other time has their been a greater opportunity to be an art gallery who controls specific content. If you have a niche, you can own it.

Why? Because selling art is all about locating first, and cultivating second, an audience that is emotionally connected with the subject matter you are selling. If you have only traditionally sold offline via brick & mortar, you have always been limited by size of your potential customer base (who is emotionally connected to your subject matter) located in your geographic area.

But now, by leveraging the online channel, it is much easier to locate groups of people who are emotionally connected to your subject matter. And not only can you locate these groups, you can show them targeted advertisements on platforms like Facebook in order to introduce them to your art and turn them into customers and fans.

For example, let’s say your niche is Elvis art.

elvis painting

You carry art of all the best artists who paint everything Elvis. Right now, you can go to Facebook and find Elvis groups that people have chosen to become a member of.

And on top of that, you can show them — and only them — targeted ads.

In other words, you can show ads directly to and only to the people who might actually have an emotional connection to what you are doing. This is an incredible opportunity, its become the most efficient way to spend advertising dollars and get a return on the investment, and there’s no better time to capitalize on it than right now.

facebook ads targeting

Additionally, the online channel tears down all geographic barriers. There may be only so many die-hard Elvis fans in your geographic area. If you’re strictly leveraging brick and mortar, then that’s your market, and unfortunately, its pretty limited.

But there are an exponential amount nationwide, and even more worldwide. Find the die-hard fans, make this art available to them online, and watch as they buy originals, limited editions, and anything else you sell — and they will do this online, right from your website. If you have a niche, you can own it.


taking art gallery online

  • All the market research is showing that the art market is currently undergoing a serious disruption, specifically with the online art market increasingly cannibalizing sales from the offline market.
  • Regardless which type of Art Gallery you are and the customers you serve, using the online channel to supplement your current business strategy will only lead to better results.
  • How you leverage the online channel will differ based on your clientele and your price points.
  • Thanks to the internet and companies like Facebook, there has never been a better time than now to control a niche of artistic content.

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