Breaking Down Barriers To Online Art Sales (Recording + Highlights)

This week on ArtEvolve we were joined by Anders Petterson, founder and Managing Director of ArtTactic, a pioneer in art market data and analysis. We talked about selling art online in today’s transforming art market.


How has the art market changed?


While the online art market (and associated technologies) certainly existed prior the pandemic, the last 12-24 months have seen a change in attitudes towards digital channels. Whereas once there was a reluctance to embrace them as viable platforms, online sales are now seen as the same, or at least similar, level of importance as a physical gallery space.

As Anders pointed out, it’s likely this would have happened anyway – audiences were certainly ready for it – but the pandemic catalyzed the process.

According to the 2021 Hiscox Online Art Trade Report, the online art market is on track to treble in size compared to online sales in 2019. Not only are collectors buying more, they also feel confident making larger purchases, with the average online only fine art auction price increasing from $10,000 to $42,000. Capitalizing on this confidence, and boosting it further, will be key to the online art market’s success.


What are buyers most concerned about?


  • Lack of physical inspection – In a 2019 survey, 72% of collectors said not being able to inspect the artwork and its condition were the main reasons for not buying art online. The nature of online transactions detaches collectors from the artwork and forces them to rely on information provided to them by a gallery to make a decision. It’s up to art organizations to provide the information needed to help buyers feel confident and informed. This could mean sharing summary condition reports early on in the sale process (for example, making them available in OVRs), sharing condition reports with clients, or allowing clients to inspect an item in person.


  • Reputation of the seller – While historic auction houses and galleries have established reputations that are recognizable to those even outside the art world, younger platforms (especially, but not exclusively) need to demonstrate trustworthiness in other ways. Solid digital marketing strategies, superior service offerings, and social proof (trusted reviews) can all be part of an organization’s approach.


  • Authenticity – any shopper, in any industry, wants to know that the object they’re buying is not a fake. Selling a fake or forgery could damage the reputation of a gallery so it’s in their interest to ensure strict controls are in place to minimize this risk. Technology also looks set to help online platforms establish authenticity, particularly if industry wide standards can be developed and market symmetry established. (Check out the work AIS is doing in this field).


  • Pricing – how do buyers, particularly those new to the market, know if an object is good value? Is there even a price listed, or does the potential buyer have to enquire, thereby adding another obstacle to sale? Transparency helps collectors make informed decisions, which is especially important in auctions where audiences make decisions in a fraction of a section. In the future, it’s likely we’ll also see the introduction of pricing tools, to help bring this information to the fore.



Thank you to our guest, Anders Petterson of ArtTactic, for joining us!