Once upon a time, one of the most important parts of being an antique dealer was having a beautiful store where customers were welcome to come in and peruse curated vignettes. They would chat with dealers while caressing the top of a centuries old commode or perhaps while trying out the comfortableness of a leather club chair. While brick & mortar stores still play a huge role in an antique dealer’s business, the internet has made selling antiques online possible.
But selling antiques online comes with its own set of challenges. Customers find you based on keywords and SEO (search engine optimization). They buy products solely from photos and descriptions. And then you have to ship pieces to them! While this method of selling can seem intimidating, think of it as a new way to connect with your clientele, and potentially build a much broader range of customers. We’ve put together a list of five tips for selling antiques online, with the hopes that you can either start or grow your online sales and enjoy doing more of what you do best: Deal antiques!
Choosing Marketplaces for Selling Antiques Online
When it comes to selling online, knowing which marketplace is right for you is crucial. Each marketplace caters to a certain type of customer. Some draw serious collectors, while others appeal to interior designers. Still other marketplaces are a mix of antique and decorative items. Oftentimes, dealers will sell on multiple marketplaces, cross posting items to reach a broader audience. Identifying who your ideal customer is based on your inventory and style can set you up for more sales and ultimately greater success.
Understand Fees and Commissions
Different marketplaces have different structures when it comes to fees and commissions. Understanding how each marketplace works is vital when pricing your items. Some marketplaces charge a fee to set up your “shop” on their hosting site, then take a commission from the sale of each item. Other marketplaces charge a monthly fee, sort of like rent, and don’t take any commissions. Some sites charge dealers in multiple ways. Understanding the fees and knowing how they are being used can help you decide where you want to list your items and why.
Take Excellent Photos
When it comes to online sales, quality photography is vital. In a sea of thumbnail photos, your item needs to stand out. Not only should it be a clear picture taken in natural or studio light, it should be the correct size for the marketplace you are selling on. Before delving into taking pictures, go to the about section of your selected marketplace and find out what the recommended ideal photo size is. Since potential customers can’t physically examine and touch the item, posting detailed photographs allows them to really know what they’re buying. If you’re photographing furniture, we’ve put together some Tips for Photographing Large Pieces. Trying to photograph small or unusual items? We’ve got you covered with Tips for Photographing Small Pieces. To avoid unhappy clients and returns, be sure to photograph any imperfections or damage on pieces. Full disclosure ensures customers will trust you in the future and leave positive reviews. For more pointers on taking excellent photos, check out 7 Essential Photo Types that Sell.
Fill Out as Many Fields as Possible
Each marketplace has different fields to be filled out on the listing page. Some fields are required and others are optional. However, it is advisable to fill out as many fields as possible in order to provide the most information to buyers. Being thorough initially can help you avoid back and forth conversations with customers down the road. Not sure where to start? Check out how to Write Winning Product Descriptions. Also, many marketplaces have filters and search boxes which pick up on key words or fields such as “Style,” “Period,” and “Place of Origin.” Making sure you have as much information filled out as possible can help lead to more sales.
Research Shipping Options
When it comes to selling online, shipping can be daunting. But it doesn’t have to be! Many marketplaces allow you to either handle shipping logistics yourself or select an option that puts some of the details in their hands. In fact, certain marketplaces have shipping partners like UPS and FedEx for smaller items, and will coordinate shipping for larger pieces. However, if you want to handle your own shipping, check out Uship.com to get quotes from local and national shippers.