by Carolyn Edlund
Enhance the buying experience by providing your collectors with unexpected service.
This is the second in an occasional series of articles on conversations I’ve had with my friend Ashwin Muthiah. He is the founder of Easely, an online website where artists can sell their work.
Carolyn: I’d like to address a really important topic that will help artists increase their sales. This is about serving their customers on a very high level, from initial contact through delivery.
To start with, online shoppers need to feel comfortable about the purchasing process when they are considering a piece of art. They have to feel that a website has credibility before they will buy, and this is something artists definitely have control over.
Ashwin: That’s true. To be credible, you need a professional website that promotes trust and instills confidence in the buyer. You can do this through your website’s appearance and branding, and giving it easy functionality. It also helps to add some testimonials from collectors who already own your work. People don’t want to pull out their credit card and buy unless a site looks trustworthy and secure.
When designing your website, avoid distracting graphics or colors. Keep your palette very neutral so that your artwork stands out. And, be consistent with colors, fonts, logos and the overall theme of your site. I’ve noticed that Squarespace is amazing for creating chic websites with very little effort.
Take a look at your current art website. Does it provide lots of information, and is it easy to understand options and go through the purchasing process? Is it completely functional, without typos or broken links? This creates a much better experience for customers, and more sales for you.
Carolyn: I like to see artist websites that are organized in such a way that the work makes sense and collections are presented together.
Ashwin: It definitely makes sense to organize your artwork in some way. Whether it’s by themes, periods, or media, it helps your customer to be able to find what they’re looking for easily. And when you do organize the works, make sure the names are meaningful and descriptive. If you organize by years, put a description next to each year to give some indication of what to expect.
Carolyn: Pricing is a hot topic, too. I frequently get questions from artists about how to price their work, adding on charges for packing and shipping, and whether this hurts the sale. What do you think?
Ashwin: I’m a fan of pricing that is “all-inclusive” with reasonable shipping charges and nothing hidden. Keep it simple. Don’t nickel and dime people for shipping, taxes, framing, information about you, etc. Keep the customer experience clean and straightforward. People don’t like to feel that they’re paying for a ton of extras they didn’t know about.
Carolyn: And then, when the sale is made, the artist ships out the work to the buyer. This isn’t the end of the customer experience. It’s actually a huge opportunity to delight your customer and turn them into a raving fan.
Ashwin: Absolutely. Even though it’s the end of the transaction, it can be the beginning of a relationship with a new repeat customer. So, make sure you wow them with the delivery.
Here’s where you physically connect to your customer, so use packaging that is protective but also visually pleasing. You might use packaging and additional materials that are branded with your signature colors and logo. These could be a Certificate of Authenticity, an artist bio, business card or brochure.
Carolyn: I’ve seen artists offer extras like gift wrap, a hanging guide, care instructions, or a hammer and nail. They might enclose a personal handwritten thank you note or even a special bonus gift which was unexpected. It could be a package of notecards and envelopes with the art they purchased on the front, or something else that will really please them (and help promote your art, too!)
Ashwin: And don’t forget to encourage repeat and referral business by including incentives with the package. This could be a coupon for free shipping on their next order, or even a coupon for a friend.
Do you use customer service techniques to provide an exceptional experience for your collectors? Do you have any tips to add?