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Small Retailers Get Good News as Online Art Sales Double, Per Hiscox Report

Published Sunday, March 20, 2016
by Annie Pilon

The fine art industry is undergoing some major changes, which could be good news for small or independent art sellers. One of the major changes in the industry is the increase in online art sales.

According to the Hiscox Online Art Trade Report 2015, the value of the online art market has increased from $1.57 billion in 2013 to an estimated $2.64 billion in 2014. That drastic increase means that the online art market accounts for 4.8 percent of the total value of the global art market, which is valued at an estimated $55.2 billion.

That’s no small feat, especially given the doubts people had that anyone would ever purchase expensive, one-of-a-kind art pieces from online sellers.

Online Art Sales Flourishing

One of the companies that’s witnessing these changes firsthand is UGallery. UGallery is an online marketplace for original fine art pieces.

Gallery director and co-founder Alex Farkas said in a phone interview with Small Business Trends, “We’re in our tenth year in business. And the market has totally changed since we first launched. In our early days, everyone was still wondering, ‘will people buy art on the Internet?’ But obviously in the past ten years the Internet has changed so many things. People buy their groceries, their cars, their art all on the Internet now.”

In those early days, part of what held some potential buyers back was the fear of buying something so pricy without being able to physically see it first. UGallery tries to combat that fear by offering free shipping and returns, so that customers can try the art in their homes risk-free. And some other galleries and art sellers have done the same, while others also provide a physical space for people to see the artwork if they so choose.

However, that’s not the whole story behind the increase in sales. Aside from the general shift in consumers relying more on online stores, there’s also the investment factor. According to the Hiscox report, 63 percent of online art buyers have decided to make purchases because of a piece’s potential return on investment. So for those investment savvy buyers, the prospect of spending less time and resources on locating artwork could certainly be an attractive option.