Art and antiques dealers are spoilt for choice when it comes to online portals to sell their wares.
Launched late last year, The Bruno Effect is the new portal in town, but already has a wealth of users.
Many dealers use a multiple sites (often five or more) both for selling and to market themselves to the widest possible audience.
Alexander George is among those using many sites, for example, but the firm’s Mark Pargeter says that the most expensive pieces go through the gallery’s own website. However, keeping a membership to several portals still makes sense.
“If people go to search elsewhere for a type of item and keep seeing yours come up on various sites, it builds their confidence. And using several sites is a way of branding,” he says.
Among the most popular sites are The Bruno Effect, 2Covet and 1stDibs, all of which have worked on adding value beyond the buying and selling of antiques.
Here, ATG take a closer look at what they have to offer.
The Bruno Effect
Run by: founder and CEO Carmine Bruno
About: The Bruno Effect (TBE) is a dealer platform aimed at interior designers and collectors. Bruno previously worked at 1stdibs and set up the online marketplace Online Galleries in 2006 which was sold to 1stdibs in 2012. He launched TBE to offer top-end dealers an alternative.
The platform allows sellers to have direct a relationship with customers and buyers can “communicate, negotiate and purchase directly offline” with the dealer. It offers editorial content and ‘inspiration’ pages.
How many members: TBE selects its members on an invitation-only basis and has a waiting list of dealers who wish to join. It has not revealed numbers but says it has hundreds of dealers on the platform from around the world who are its ‘founding member dealers’ and a few hundred more on its waiting list. It plans to have around 1000 dealers on the site by 2024.
Items listed: Around 40,000 items currently, which is expected to rise to more than 100,000.
Average price: Between £10,000-20,000. It caters to the wealthier clients too with some items reaching up to £2.5m.
Views/user stats? Around 50,000 sessions a month.
Locations: An equal split of visitors between US and UK traffic.
Why dealers like it: “It’s very early days for us on this platform and we often have day-to-day enquiries that don’t line up with one portal or another,” says Chris Cowen of Patrick Moorhead. “But we’re quite a big business and it means that one customer can transform our year. TBE is well geared to the decorator market which is quite strong, so gives us access to the kind of client that would want to do a large furnishing project for a hotel, for example.”
Run by: David Rosenblatt, chief executive officer
About: 1stDibs was founded in 2000 by Michael Bruno as an online luxury marketplace for antiques. It started as a listings site for dealers who then transacted offline but evolved into an e-commerce site where all purchases are completed through the site. 1stDibs also offers editorial content and pages on inspiration from interior designers.
How many members: 4300 sellers across the world. All members must be professional sellers and must apply via an application form. There is a series of vetting criteria to meet including the time a seller has been in business, the quality of their inventory, their ability to accurately describe their inventory, and their reputation. Seller applicants are reviewed by its Art and Design Research Team. References from other sellers may be required.
Items listed: 1m-plus items
Average price: $2800
Locations: The US-based company has nearly 40% of its sellers from outside the US with 20% of the items listed located in Europe; 20% of its customers are outside the US, predominantly in Europe (13%).
Why dealers like it: “It’s probably the best platform for analytics,” says Mark Pargeter of Alexander George. “I can see throughout the month what people are viewing the most and what our top saved listings are. For example, in the past 90 days it’s been our largest longcase clock, which has had 3000 views and three saves - followed by the smallest clock we offer.”
Run by: Dealers Steve Sly and Charles Wallrock and marketing specialist Zara Rowe
About: Online marketplace 2Covet “aims to connect antique collectors, interior designers, and art enthusiasts” with dealers. It describes itself as a boutique marketplace working with dealers to “provide as many routes to market for their special pieces as we can”. It offers a curated ‘Editor’s Picks’ section.
How many members: 52 dealers.
Items listed: The average member has more than 200 items listed.
Average price: £5000-10,000
Views/user stats? Around 26,000 unique views a month
Locations: UK with some European and US dealers. Traffic is predominantly UK with 10% from Europe and just under 10% from the US but also some sales from as far afield as Singapore and Australia.
In the news: 2Covet is the new marketing partner for the Petworth Park Antiques & Fine Art Fair. Running from May 13-15 in Sussex, the fair is set to be the first of the year for The Antiques Dealers Fair Limited and will be promoted on 2Covet’s social media and other platforms.
It is not the firm’s first inroads into the world of fairs. It took over the Chelsea Antiques & Fine Art Fair last year.
Chelsea fair director Sophie Wood says: “Many of the existing Chelsea fair exhibitors also cross over with the Petworth Park fair, which is a good dynamic to have. Going forward, we will be looking to add extra value for the event via our in-house development and marketing team, headed up by my fellow director Zara.”
Different sites are, of course, available. Sellingantiques.co.uk and Vinterior are popular, as are LoveAntiques.com and The Hoarde. Members of trade associations such as BADA, LAPADA and CADA also have the option of using their respective online hubs.
For many, such as dealer David Harvey of WR Harvey, Sellingantiques.co.uk is the main platform. Unlike those above, it is purely a sales platform, without the editorial content of 1stDibs and The Bruno Effect or the in-person endeavours of 2Covet. Billing itself as the UK’s largest antiques website, it boasts of 638 dealers and around 72,000 items.
“We sell the most through Sellingantiques.co.uk, followed by the LAPADA website,” Harvey says.
Like many of the dealers contacted for this feature, he embraces the unpredictability of online selling. Harvey adds: “Some sales are quite random. I just sold a very nice table to a chap over in New York. He happened upon it on the CADA website while he was looking for a dealership that doesn’t exist anymore. He got in touch to ask if it was still for sale and it was.
“We don’t have a portal that will work for my business every day. We do get a lot of business through our own website.”