If you sell art online, you might be encouraged by some online art sales statistics reported in the 2017 Hiscox Online Art Trade Report. Hiscox is an international provider of specialized insurance to small businesses and property owners.
According to the Hiscox report, online art sales reached an estimated $3.75 billion in 2016, up 15 percent from 2015. This gives the online art market an 8.4 percent share of the overall art market (up from 7.4 percent in 2015).
The online art market is predicted to reach $9.14 billion by 2022.
“For those who say the online art market has had its day, it hasn’t even had it’s morning yet. It’s still waking up,” says Robert Read, head of art and private clients at Hiscox.
Most online sales are for works priced below $5,000. In the 2017 survey, 79 percent of online art buyers said they spend less than $5,000 per piece. This is up from 67 percent in 2015.
People who have purchased art online once continue to buy art online. About 65 percent of previous online art buyers purchased more than one artwork in 2016.
Fully 91 percent of online art buyers surveyed said the quality of art available is one of the most important elements in their decision to buy art online. They reject the notion that the online art market is a dumping ground for works that can’t be sold offline.
Some art lovers continue to be hesitant about buying art online. Some fear the physical art will look different from the online image. Or, buyers worry that the condition of the artwork might be different from what was anticipated. About 73 percent of the hesitant buyers surveyed said they would like to speak to a human expert before making a decision to buy art online. Others would be interested in reviews and feedback from previous clients. Shipping options and return policies also matter.
Instagram has overtaken Facebook as the preferred social media platform for promoting and discovering art. Fifty-seven percent of art galleries said Instagram is the most effective in terms of raising awareness. About 35 percent of galleries said Instagram is driving direct sales, compared to only 7 percent of respondents who mentioned Facebook.
About $720 million in online art sales in 2016 came through online auctions by Sotheby’s, Christie’s, and Heritage Auctions. This represents about 19 percent of online art sales.
For most traditional galleries, e-commerce isn’t a major sales channel. About 59% said online purchases account for less than 5 percent of their sales. The 18 percent of galleries that derive most of the sales from direct online sales deal in collectibles such as watches, design, furniture, and photography.
About 49 percent of galleries who sell art online do so through a third-party e-commerce platform.
Some online art platforms (29 percent) have either established a brick-and-mortar gallery space or are thinking about doing so.
The report predicts online auctions will become a key battlefield this year. Virtually every online art platform has started to offer an online auction services.
To help further grow the market, online art platforms will seek ways to build trust with current and potential buyers. Expect them to offer buyers more background information the artist and the object. They may also boost the educational experience by producing more informative and interesting content.
Methodology and More Information
The 2017 Hiscox Online Art Trade report is based on a survey of 758 art buyers from ArtTactic’s client mailing list and a survey of 132 galleries and dealers representing a wide range of art and collectibles. The report also includes insights from one-to-one interviews and online surveys of key staff at online art platforms.
In the free, downloadable report you can also find profiles and ranking of the Top 25 Online Art Platforms.
To further educate both art buyers and artists, Hiscox publishes informative posts on Online Art Market Insights.