Internet sales vs. sales in person.

Discussion in 'Presentation & Marketing' started by Graeme Hird, Nov 26, 2004.

  1. Graeme Hird

    Graeme Hird Member

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    I'm after comparisons between sales made on-line and those made in person (i.e.where a person has seen the real print before buying). I'm referring to prints bought as art to be used for decoration or collecting, rather than for reproduction or portraits/weddings etc.

    My own sales in the last year have been 481 prints in person and 3 on-line. Does anybody have figures which could show me that my on-line sales are too low by comparison? What sort of ratios do you see in your own sales? Does anybody sell more than 5 prints a year on-line from their web sites or on ebay?

    I guess I'm trying to quantify my belief that trying to sell prints to people who haven't seen the real thing is a waste of time.

    Cheers,
     
  2. Mongo

    Mongo Member

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    Graeme-

    Not to be a stick in the mud...but are you sure that the three people who did buy your prints on line last year hadn't seen them in person before making their purchases? I'm just wondering if any such analysis can be accurate unless sellers are collecting "Have you seen my work in person?" data at the point of sale on the web.

    Dave
     
  3. Francesco

    Francesco Member

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    There is only one gallery in Stockholm, Sweden that offers fine art photographic prints for sale, and they are not doing that well because Stockholm is too small a market. The advantage for me of having an online gallery where my prints are for sale and as a member of the Contact Printers Guild (with our Ebay Store and Ebay Auctions) is the ability to have my work seen by many. Of course I have given away workprints to certain people to give them a sense of what the real thing looks. This has helped build confidence in the quality of my work, resulting in eventual purchases. My website has been up since May and I have sold about 15 prints at or very near my asking price. I have been participating in the Contact Printers Guild for about a month now and I have sold 8 prints so far. The Contact Printers Guild is where I focus most of my online efforts now. My objective is not money but, at least in the near term, it is to get my work out there, with collectors and enthusiasts and hopefully they approve of its quality enough to come back for more and to tell their friends. If I can do this and have enough to finance my work with more materials then I am pleased.
     
  4. Graeme Hird

    Graeme Hird Member

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    Mongo - I can be certain that the two people from the USA who bought prints have not seen my work in person (my gallery is in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia). The other person was from Western Australia and could have seen my work in the window of the gallery. I didn't make it very clear, but I own my own gallery which is the only outlet for my physical prints. I collect all the information I can on people who buy my prints.

    Francesco - Thanks very much for that information. It's exactly the type of information I'm after. I'm very glad to hear you've sold 15 prints on-line, since it gives me some hope that it can be done. However, it's interesting that you are sending your potential customers samples of your prints to inspire confidence in your quality of work. That seems to partially support my theory that on-line images don't sell well without the support of the real print.

    I noticed that there are no prices for prints on your site. Are you relying on people making enquiries though email to start the selling process?

    Stockholm is too small with 9,000,000 people? I find that very hard to believe (my gallery is in a mining town of 25,000 people, and 95% of my sales are to locals rather than tourists). My guess is their marketing strategy is wrong, rather than the size of the population. It's a shame, because there really is a market out there for good photography, if the galleries would just give us a chance to sell our work more sensibly.

    Cheers,
     
  5. Francesco

    Francesco Member

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    I agree Graeme, there has to be some concrete encouragement, in my case via sending print examples so that when viewing my work online potential customers have an understanding of the true print quality and know that the scan is but a pale representation.

    Stockholm itself has 1 million (total in Sweden about 9 million) and you are again right in that it is the marketing of photographs as fine art that is lacking. This is why I characterised the market as small, i.e. only a few would collect fine prints because only a few are exposed to it. In fact, the only reason I learned of this gallery's existence is by inadvertently taking the wrong street home. The quality of the pictures in the gallery ranges from average to downright horrible. All the photographs are matted poorly and the frames are inconsistent. It seems that their intention was merely to fill the walls with photographs. The prices are very high in my view. On average about 1000 bucks!

    There were prices on my site. But as I am now focusing on the Guild and our ebay auctions and ebay store, the site is now to (a) market my portfolio (the grouped prints), (b) to show that there is cohesion in my work (theme projects like Places of Worship or Landet) and (c) to direct the potential customer to the auctions and ebay store.
     
  6. Graeme Hird

    Graeme Hird Member

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    Francesco, your last sentence sounds familiar to me in that I mainly use my website to direct people to my physical gallery or as an electronic catalog of my work rather than as a sales outlet in itself. Perhaps they're not bad uses for the online images, but it might also explain why my online sales are low.

    However, I hope others have some stories that contradict my thoughts.

    Cheers,
     
  7. Francesco

    Francesco Member

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    Unfortunately I have no direct experience with gallery sales versus online/website/ebay sales and thus cannot speak with any authority on the matter. However, Jorge's experience on this subject is quite astounding.
     
  8. jd callow

    jd callow Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I have sold in person 15 to 20 photographs and about 400 hundred on ebay. The in person sales were for 10 to 50 times the ebay prices.

    It sounds as if you have no need to go online.

    I will continue to sell on ebay but not at the fire sale prices. I will be producing prints specifically for ebay (and for my portfolio) that will be smaller and more expensive. If this fails such is life. I can not justify selling large prints at below my costs. If I double my price and reduce the sizes from 16x16/20/24" to 10x10/12.5/15" I will make a few bucks. This will help offset my operating costs and help to maintain cash flow. Selling 'Art' is my goal but alas a small profit center.

    Because my gallery prints are much larger I hope that ebay will not interfere with my ability to get into gallerys. If it does I will reconsider my choices.
     
  9. rbarker

    rbarker Member

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    Wow. 481 prints sold into a population of 25,000? That's darned impressive, Graeme. I'd say you live in an unusual community. While your work is excellent, it's unusual for that high a percentage of people within a community to be sufficiently interested in art to buy it.
     
  10. roteague

    roteague Member

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    I think that may be the case, although I'm sure that there are photographers that are selling this way.
     
  11. roteague

    roteague Member

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    If I every get to Kalgoorlie, I'll be sure to visit your gallery. You never know where I might show up; just ask Nige and Kevin.
     
  12. Sjixxxy

    Sjixxxy Member

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    Just curious, how do you do this sampling? Make a print and stamp "Sample" over it in big letters? Give them something of absolutly no artistic value? (Here is a photo of my half eaten bag of cheetos) Other?
     
  13. Francesco

    Francesco Member

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    I send a workprint of an image that they already have seen online and have found pleasing. It is not trimmed or mounted, not spotted (if needed), not numbered or signed and does not come with a document of authenticity.
     
  14. Graeme Hird

    Graeme Hird Member

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    I think the secret is to not market my work as "art", but rather as a memento of the local area. About 70% of my sales to locals occur as they are thinking about leaving town. (Being a mining community, we have a high turnover of population, with about 4500 people leaving each year and being replaced by others. We get sales to about 5-10% of them.)

    While we call the shop a "gallery", in reality it is a retail outlet situated in the heart of the retail district of town. We saw no point in setting up a gallery in a little backwater with no passing foot traffic. So, we own a shop, not a gallery. And we sell a product, not "art".

    Anyway, back to the topic of this thread: it seems like my slow internet sales are indeed typical, so I'm not going to beat myself up about it any more.

    Thanks for your help, and keep the stories coming (especially if you have some positive experiences.)

    Cheers,
     
  15. jscottschrader

    jscottschrader Member

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    My experience has been very similar to what you have described. Last year (2003) I had $57,000 dollars in sales, ...of that $2500 of it was via my website...of that $2500.00 two sales were from people who just happened to be surfing through and found something they couldn't live without. Those two sales totaled $210.00. The rest of the internet sales were from people who had previously seen my work in person and either were not prepared to purchase something when they saw it ...or were waiting to purchase it in a more clandestined manner to give as a gift to their friend/spouse....

    I know that my web-site actually reduces my sales. Many people ask if I have a web site and take my card saying that they want to purchase a photo and will do so via my web-site...of course only a very small percentage of those folks actually do.
     
  16. Graeme Hird

    Graeme Hird Member

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    Hi Scott,

    Your web site reduces your sales? Ouch! Better get rid of it. :smile: However, I think people might be simply trying to say they're not interested in a polite way. Rather than tell you outright, they're saying "I'll think about it and come back later", but of course, never do and never intended to. That's no reflection on your web site's attractiveness or its ability to sell for you - those people were never going to buy in the first place. (BTW, you're not really trying to charge $2000 for shipping on your largest prints, are you?)

    Since asking this question last week, I've had a surprising number of phone calls from people who are looking at my web site while they speak to me on the phone. It appears people are using my site as a catalogue to make up their minds before coming into the gallery (which is what I want them to do). Placing the price next to each image seems to be helping my sales in the gallery.

    Cheers,
     
  17. Graeme Hird

    Graeme Hird Member

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    You'll be made very welcome Robert. We'll even head over the road for a beer or two, served frosty cold by a skimpy barmaid ....

    Cheers,
     
  18. WarEaglemtn

    WarEaglemtn Member

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    "I can not justify selling large prints at below my costs."

    But on eBay you can make up for it by selling in volume!!!
     
  19. bjorke

    bjorke Member

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    Is this "Galerie Kontrast" (sp?) in Sodermalm? I tried to visit but they were closed :sad: -- maybe next time. There are a lot of (art) galleries there, one would think there's a market that just needs an appropriate approach. Perhaps something directly-related to the churches and parks in your portfolios, a way to tap the interest of people who already visit those places?

    Just a thought....
     
  20. Francesco

    Francesco Member

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    Hi Bjorke, this Gallery is Bilder Till Salu (Pictures for Sale) and is located in Östermalm. There are other galleries which may or may not carry photographic prints together with their offered paintings and sculptures, but they are few and far between. I think that Galerie Kontrast is no more (sigh). The direct methods I have tried are more commercial in orientation, e.g. the Stockholm Tourist Board, the Swedish Church, etc. Still waiting for a response. I am also looking into publishing a book but the publishing quality of the work of houses I have canvassed are below par. My feeling is that photography in Stockholm is in general a commercial pursuit. Bilder Till Salu is really the only avenue, at the moment, for marketing photographs as fine art prints in this town. Hence the reason why I get more response via the internet.
     
  21. bjorke

    bjorke Member

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    Have you gone to the Contemporary Stockholm Photo show at the Kunsthuset (*sigh* wish I'd had more time there...)?
     
  22. Graeme Hird

    Graeme Hird Member

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    I didn't see a :smile: after this one, so I have to assume you are crazy .... :wink:
    If selling at a loss in small volumes is painful, selling large volumes at a loss will be fatal.

    (Hang on - isn't that what General Motors does?)
     
  23. jd callow

    jd callow Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Selling at or slightly below cost is how many companies reduce competition and gain market share. It was how some companies during the Internet boom (whether intentional or not) survived their competition. They had more VC or a better IPO and were able to bleed more money than their peers.

    So I am thinking if I can just keep selling until all you other wannabes are bled dry I'll be in the cat bird's seat.
     
  24. Graeme Hird

    Graeme Hird Member

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    I managed to sell another one on the internet yesterday to a lady from USA, taking my total internet sales to 4.

    Do people with shopping carts on their sites fare any better than this?

    Cheers,