History and Rationale for the Art Retail Network and Gallery-Link
We created the Art Retail Network in response to our analysis of the retail art industry. Selling original art is a market of the "ultra-niche" by virtue of the fact that only one exists of every item. Being retailers, high street galleries have geographical limitations on the reach of their customer base. These two factors combined means that if the ideal customer for a particular piece of art is out-with this "will-travel" radius then the two may never meet.
The Internet would seem to provide the obvious solution for this but our research shows that this has failed to deliver for the art industry in the way that it has for other retail sectors. Some reasons given are: emotional purchases like art prefer to be bought in person; customers prefer not to part with large amounts of money on the basis of an Internet thumbnail; and web images do not fully give the three dimensional feel of paint on a canvas or other material. There are exceptions, of course, but the gulf in the comparative data for a shift to online sales with other retail sectors is vast.
This might be good news for galleries. The move towards Internet shopping has given rise to the death of the high street outlet for many retailers and the total disappearance of others. However, this does not alleviate the difficulties highlighted earlier.
We set out to create something that would solve this issue. The brief was to leverage the most up-to-date technology so that art retailers can benefit from the web in the way that others have but, crucially, to do this in a way which actually reinforced the need for a high street gallery presence instead of instigating its demise.
The Art Retail Network was born. A way to destroy the geographical boundaries of customers and the limitations of hanging space while ensuring that every purchase had to be facilitated by a gallery. Gallery stock could be found and be available for sale in every other gallery. At the same time it would provide an additional option for those rare occasions when a customer is ready to buy but the gallery's current hanging stock does not satisfy their needs. Of course, it makes business sense that galleries will wish to sell their own stock in the first instance but this system can reassure them that they need never lose any sales again from paying customers looking for something they don't have.
We then considered that it was additional work to use such a system. Galleries would have to log-on and actively sell their stock. This was when the idea for Gallery-Link was born. An extremely useful system that galleries can use to benefit them on a more day-to-day basis to manage their gallery and, just by using it for this, the Art Retail Network could function automatically. The system could find new customers and sales for the gallery with zero additional effort from the gallery owner.
We used cloud technology, emulating the most sophisticated business systems in existence. This means that no-one ever has to install Gallery-Link on their PC and we can improve the system continuously from our end. We added a customer dimension to enable galleries to wow their customers with searchable iPad's and display units. Finally, we looked to social media for ideas on how to connect galleries to each other, to artists and to suppliers to receive useful real-time information from them, saving vast amounts of time keeping up to speed on stock availability and creating trusted networks within our network.
The result was the powerful business building member network you see today. It saves galleries time with business operations while increasing business turnover and profitability. It does this by improving sales conversions within the gallery and attracting more people more often with a dynamic changing environment and stock. Finally, its marketplace opens up whole new markets beyond the gallery's previous geographical limitations.
The rest is history!