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The article in ATG about the fees charges by the website 1stdibs.

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In the article a commission of 5% on certain sales is mentioned (I’ve never had or seen a commission rate of 5% with 1stdibs), whereas 18% is the actual commission plus a handling fee of about 2% in addition to £6000 a year for access to the platform and for the privilege of keeping the transaction at arm’s length, giving away any brand visibility of one’s own businesses.

All communication to and from the client has to go through their portal and there is a strict rule of no communication other than through 1stdibs.

Also mentioned is the “access to the all-important US decorator market” which is, of course, welcome but comes with a ready-made trade discount to add to the stiff commission fee.

The 42% increase may – and should – make many of the trade look elsewhere for more cost-effective sales portals where there is no commission to pay, the subscription rates are lower, the dealers and their stock are vetted, you control the sale and, best of all, your own brand is still visible and you get an opportunity to build a relationship with the clients to ensure future sales.

Online Galleries, which 1stdibs took over, was a great platform for selling antiques until they closed it down and moved all its existing clients across to 1stdibs.

The trade association portals such as LAPADA and BADA are good places to start! We’re leaving 1stdibs at the end of our current contract on January 1, 2020.

John Dixon

Georgian Antiques, Edinburgh

Cristina Miller, executive vice president, seller relations, 1stdibs, replies:

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to respond to the letter submitted by Georgian Antiques. Let me address the points raised by John, one by one.

1stdibs is committed to building successful online partnerships with all our dealers.

1. We provide tools and services to sellers while heavily investing in online marketing to bring qualified customers to these sellers. To continue to grow these investments, we ask that transactions initiated on or by our platform be concluded on the platform.

2. The commissions we charge vary by category. For most sellers of vintage and antique pieces, the commission is 15%, stepping down to 5% for higher-value items, as outlined in ATG’s story. We also charge a standard card-not-present transaction fee when the client pays by credit card, as John has pointed out.

3. We encourage buyers to communicate with dealers by email, by phone or in person; in fact, we facilitate all those methods through the platform.

4. Once buyers begin a conversation or complete a sale, they clearly see the seller’s name and other pieces the seller is offering through 1stdibs.

Dealers are encouraged to provide detailed “about us” content, photos and videos as well as their logos, which appear on their branded storefronts. This seller-provided content is easily accessed via the search bar on 1stdibs, the customer message centre and search engines like Google.

I encourage dealers with questions or concerns to contact 1stdibs directly, via their partner manager, so we can provide tailored recommendations to ensure their success on 1stdibs.