Pop-up shops are a popular emerging form of flash retailing that enable sellers to set up temporary stores from which to sell their products. Often using short-term sales spaces, their temporary nature makes them a more affordable alternative to opening a permanent shop, avoiding long-term rental agreements and overheads.
The pleasure of pop-ups is their ‘get it while it’s there’ vibe – because they’re not open all the time, there is an increased incentive to buy. They’re the perfect solution for someone who wants to sell their art in a place where people can see and touch it. What’s more, you can get a good idea of what sells and what doesn’t and see your customers face to face.
Pop-ups are the perfect way to support and promote an online store. If you already run a successful art pop-up, then you are a step ahead in terms of knowing your audience and what appeals to them. You can publicise your e-store through your pop-up, and your pop-up through your e-store. Setting up an e-commerce website is much easier than it used to be, and you can automate the order fulfilment process and leave very few admin tasks for yourself. So how to take that crucial next step?
Benefits of an e-commerce solution
If you already run a pop-up shop that is attracting customers, then you’d be missing a great opportunity by not having an online presence. The beauty of an online shop is that it’s open around the clock. So if someone has to rush away, you can give them a card and the chance to browse your products later. It’s also a place for you to share compelling content and stories about your art – without having to repeat yourself over and over again.
With an e-store you don’t have to worry about manning the store in person, as once set up the process will mostly be automated. You can accept transactions online through PayPal and secure bank card payments, which can be set up to incorporate delivery charges as well.
A lot of artists use Etsy to sell their products. Etsy is an online marketplace in the same way that eBay and Amazon are, but it’s much more geared towards artists and makers. It only costs $0.20 USD to list an item for sale, which is much less than the fees of some of the mainstream marketplaces. You can set up a shop on Etsy for free and list as many items as you want. In terms of retaining as much of the sale price as possible for yourself (minus charges), the top three online marketplaces for artists and designers are Etsy, Folksy and Not On The High Street.
Setting up your own store
The alternative to using an online marketplace is to create your own bespoke online store. It is not uncommon for some artists to do both concurrently, allowing you to access the Etsy/Folksy audience while also maintaining your own separate online presence. Setting up an online store can be achieved in very little time once you’ve chosen a platform you like, and many e-commerce solutions offer free trials that allow you to try them out. It’s not very hard to set up a professional-looking e-commerce website to showcase and sell your art, and for this reason alone it’s worth doing. Setting up your own online store is also a great way to start building your online brand.
Some artists prefer to take the print-on-demand route, which is another way to sell your art and designs online. Its appeal is that all you have to do is upload your artwork, and the site will take care of everything else. The downside is that for providing this service, the site will usually take the lion’s share of the retail price.
Society6 is one of the most popular print-on-demand options, as it has the most visitors and a worldwide audience. It also allows the artist to set their own profit margins – but the higher you go, the more expensive the product will be for the customers buying it. If you set your margins too high, you risk putting customers off. With print-on-demand you won’t make as much profit as through Etsy or an e-store of your own, but it can be a good place to start if you’re getting used to the idea or want to see which of your products sell best online.
If you’re going to sell your artwork online, you don’t want the order fulfilment side of things to take up so much time that you no longer have any left to create. This is why it’s a good idea to automate the process using a dropshipping merchant who will take care of your production, packaging and shipping. Search an online dropshipping supplier directory and look for one that is low-cost (so it doesn’t eat into your profits), reliable, and happy to apply your personal branding. If you’re selling through Etsy, you can set up dropshipping through their dedicated The Art of Where service.
An existing pop-up store is the perfect place to advertise that you also sell your products online. But it also goes without saying that you should also take your marketing efforts to social media. The best social media platforms for artists are Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
The key to successful e-commerce social media is interaction. To successfully promote yourself on social media, you must do as the name suggests and be social. It is not enough to shout about what you do. To build up trust and connect with your audience, show that you are a real person by sharing works in progress, pictures of you working in your studio, and interesting art-related articles that you’ve read. Interact with your followers and with other artists and people will find you much more engaging.
Hopefully you found this article helpful. As the owner of a pop-up store you may already be quite savvy in the world of selling, which makes e-commerce the perfect next step for you. For more suggestions, check out this list of 1,100+ Places to Sell Your Art Online.
Perhaps you’ve already set up an e-commerce store for selling your art? What has the experience taught you? Let us know in the comments.
Passionate about writing for the startup and entrepreneurial audience, I have recently been part of setting up an exciting project at MicroStartups.org. We donate all our website profits to charities that help people reach their full potential. Find out more on Twitter