One of our clients selling original photography was introduced to ArtStorefronts.com as a result of their desire to leave Squarespace. While they were able to set up a nice gallery, converting it into an ecommerce store has been more hassle than they want to deal with; so they investigated ArtStorefronts.com because the promise of an ecommerce platform for artists is almost too good to be true.

Everything was going fine until the process of figuring out pricing became unsettling (we have found multiple complaints about this on the internet as well). Frankly, the approach of withholding pricing is not uncommon in ecommerce. Sometimes it can be difficult to determine the exact needs of a customer, and some solutions may be more complex than others, so a conversation about pricing is preferred over flat pricing.

With that said, it’s all in the approach. In this case, Art Storefronts’ approach was off-putting for this particular client, so because there isn’t much unbiased information available they asked us to see what we could uncover. After some research, we primarily see five components to Art Storefronts that are really worth talking about: community, platform, integrations, marketing and price.

Community

Because ArtStorefronts.com is a niche platform, focused on artists, we believe this is going to be a major positive for them over time. Like-minded people within your customer base should be a great thing overall, especially when it comes to product development. If the development team actively listens to their customers, there should be some very strong functionality built that probably would not make it up the flagpole on more general platforms like Shopify or Bigcommerce.

They also have a forum where their customers can discuss their concerns; this is another example of community as a strength. Hopefully this builds over time.

Platform Strength & Functionality

The platform left something to be desired, but this is software and that can quickly change. While there is a very cool feature that allows customers to visualize artwork in a home, and even change colors to more closely match what may be in the home of prospective art enthusiasts, that may have been the biggest bang for the platform.

Currently (and I am sure this will not always be the case), the back-end seemed poorly designed for usability and simplicity. The layout appeared complex even in its basic form.

Marketing analytics seems to be a another selling point for artists, but in our opinion it really needs work. The information seemed basic and difficult to understand. There is beauty in simplicity, and most painters aren’t going to learn Google Analytics, so having marketing metrics built into an all-in-one marketing system could be a huge advantage.

Integrations

This is probably the most troubling area of all for customers considering Art Storefronts. Because the platform is so niche and has an understandably smaller customer base in comparison to a Bigcommerce or Shopify, there just aren’t any real integrations with their system. Currently, they integrate with Stripe and Mailchimp, essentially making their system closed.

With the speed and advancement of technology in ecommerce, this is probably the hardest pill to swallow and we implore Art Storefronts to change their approach on this. You just can’t afford to close yourself off to the world and still effectively provide the needs of your customer base, which absolutely needs help reaching more customers.

Marketing Advice

This is probably a big winner, or at least we hope so. Art Storefronts’ target clientele is not marketing savvy, and in reality, having an organization that can help many artists reach more customers is probably a good thing.

Unfortunately, we didn’t get the most compelling explanation on how they do this, and everything seemed to be a paid service to either them or some marketing consultants, and that in particular rubbed our client the wrong way. However, I still have hope for this area of their business as it seems to make sense. We would love feedback from current Art Storefronts clients on this.

Price

We still didn’t get a clear answer on this, and obviously that’s how they want to keep it. Price is important as it’s an indicator of value. Considering most ecommerce platforms are extremely reasonable, we hope they are as well.

In the end, we have a lot of hope for Art Storefronts, but we would love to hear from you about your experience.

freeeadvice freeeadvice At Free Ecommerce Advice, we provide merchants unbiased, insightful advice on software and service providers. Our goal is to help ecommerce merchants grow and save time by having someone to get guidance, feedback and 2nd opinions. Our team has worked with clients from mom and pop shops to major brands like Kohler, Overstock.com and Nikon. Give us a call at 818-392-4263, if you have questions. Visit Website

  1. Artist, salesman, entrepreneur and more

    I, as an artist, looked into artstorefront. I found the overall experience rather disappointing. Let me explain…

    I’m unique as an artist in that I’m also a salesman. I’ve worked many sales jobs over the last 20 years, so I’m quite the professional in sales. Being a professional I can also peel away the layers on other sales people and get to the truth. This was the case with art storefronts.

    First I filled out their query form and submitted it. I received a phone call within two minutes… this usually indicates a sales floor with a lot of salesmen waiting to pitch a hot lead… in fact I mentioned this to the sales person and he admitted I was “first in the que”… so it does go directly to a salesfloor.

    I was patient with him and allowed him to complete his pitch so I could get to pricing and questions.

    Pricing is as follows:
    $500 – $1500 as a sign up fee and $29 – $150 per month.

    Ok, now to ask my questions and see if there is any value…

    Who is in charge of marketing? … You as the artist have to market to buyers

    What about distribution? … art storefronts will connect you with a printshop for your prints.. you ship everything that’s an original

    Are you connected with any galleries? …No, you are the gallery online

    How high are you on google searches? …top ten… he thought

    Do you have shopping cart integration? … yes

    Are you integrated with distribution software to make it easier for the artist to market? …Mail chimp anything else? Not at this time

    How discoverable am I as an artist on art storefront? … that depends on what the customer is searching for. .. Why would a client search art storefront instead of just searching through google? No declarative answer was given

    So why would I spend my money here instead of just working with a local web designer to get exactly what I want in an Ecommerce website? ..well, the cost would be higher (in my market, northern Utah, I can get a web designer to custom build for less than $700 total)

    My take… as a salesman this is just a money making scheme for a sales floor and has nothing to do with helping artists live their dream

    — thanks for reading, Sean Nathan Ricks

  2. Owner

    I don’t have an Art Storefront Account and had even left my number for more information. It sounded like a good platform to me. I have not returned the persons call yet. But I was also concerned about the cost as I once payed about $300 a year for Site Sells Site Build It! But, somehow I did come up with a couple figures for ASF. Supposedly it is $500 for setup and then $29 per month after that. So, initially about $800 in the beginning from a start up standpoint. Sorry, but I am as broke as a church mouse and I just don’t have that kind of money laying around.

  3. Gallery Owner

    I have my own photo gallery on the island of Kauai. For years I struggled with web building companies that never were able to do more that a web page for me and charge a fortune. Now with Artstorefronts web software which I have learned with the help of their support, I can run and maintain my own website and it is finally working! It did take some time to set up but I have all the time in the world at the gallery to work on it. It gives me something to work on that is hugely productive. It am getting more and more sales the more I promote the website when they are looking at the show. It is definately the future and worth the price I pay by far. It could also be what saves my buiness which is a struggle on this little island.

Leave a Reply