A pair of Banbury-based restorers originally had the idea to set up a service that would help buyers digitally search for and purchase antiques in 2007.
But, Jonathan Groethe tells ATG, “we were quoted £75,000-100,000 to get it set up with a team of six developers. So we’ve been doing it ourselves.”
The project continued with Jonathan and brother Mark working on the site in addition to their full-time restoration jobs. LookingforAntiques.co.uk was launched only on May 31.
“It’s taken us an age – we’ve only just gotten the look of it right, the functionality right,” Jonathan says.
The site is similar to existing platforms such as Selling Antiques and Antiques Atlas. However, for the designers, a crucial difference is Looking for Antiques’ customer focus.
“We wanted to automate the service, but we’re not hiding at the back of site,” Jonathan says.
The site features a “chat with us” dialogue box on every page for live support. There are also no joining fees and no restriction or fee on the volume of items provided. It is, the owners say, a more traditional sort of customer service.
Less traditional is their technological savvy. Jonathan points out that their mobile intuitive apps give them a better rating on Google. In addition, they have the site load images of dealers’ stock at random rather than according to the size of the dealer’s business, a feature that the Groethes say is unusual for such sites.
So far dealers have responded with 35 signing up since the launch – a better rate than their initial projection of one per week.
They plan to expand the business to the United States early next year.