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.
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.
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.
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.
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.