Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, much of art market transactions in the first half of 2020 occurred online, as galleries and auction houses were forced to close and art fairs cancelled. This week, insurance company Hiscox and art research firm ArtTactic released the first part of their annual Online Art Trade Report for 2020; given that online sales trajectories were expected to continue to boom in the industry in the back half of the year, the report warranted a divided issue.
The report begins by looking at years past: online art sales growth has been slow and small since 2015, a stark difference from ecommerce trends across other industries. But the pandemic is expected to change this pattern—permanently, according to those interviewed in the report. “Online wasn’t universally being taken seriously as a viable stand-alone sales channel,” said Anders Petterson, ArtTactic’s founder and managing director. “However, this has changed as a result of COVID-19—arguably more has happened in the last four months than in the last four years, and 65% of the senior management of the platforms we interviewed for the report believe these changes will be permanent and transformative for the sector going forward.”
At ARTA, we’ve been building for the shift to online sales since our company was founded five years ago. Our mission is to make it as easy as possible to buy and sell unique items online, starting with the achilles heel of this industry: logistics and fulfillment. The Hiscox report has pulled back the curtain on the lack of and strong need for digital sales strategies to sustain growth in the art market, and ARTA’s public API provides a simple way for individuals and businesses to automate their logistics, grow revenue, improve the client experience, and best create operational efficiencies.
To this point, we had four key takeaways from the report that validate the immediate need for ARTA within this industry:
- 96% of online platforms said logistics and fulfillment were key to building trust when selling art online, and that price transparency was a key factor in building trust with buyers.
- Sotheby’s has seen a 131% increase in number of lots sold online YTD and a 74% increase in average price compared to 2019. Heritage also reported a 10%+ increase in online sales in the first half of 2020.
- The pandemic has exposed an over-dependence on traditional sales and promotional channels, leaving art world operators with limited digital strategies vulnerable.
- The art market is still seeking one thing: a cost-effective, simple and reliable shipping solution.