Critical Success Factors for Starting an Online Art Platform
Abstract: The traditional art market is currently experiencing a digital transformation and multi-sided platforms (MSPs) for trading art are a major part of this. Much research has been done in the area of MSPs, however, there is a lack of studies in the field of starting such platforms for art. Therefore, this study aims to determine the critical success factors (CSFs) for starting an online art platform (OAP). To answer this, a two-piece market analysis consisting of a general art market analysis and an examination of existing OAPs was carried out in parallel with qualitative interviews and questionnaires with galleries, art advisors, and industry experts. The interview results were then analyzed inductively, using a grounded theory approach, before all findings were examined from a theoretical perspective. The analysis of existing OAPs revolved around the three major platforms Artsy, artnet, and Saatchi Art, of which Artsy is leading in terms of size, capital raised, and prominent features. Results from interviews indicate galleries want more control on the platforms, higher quality of participating galleries, and easier management. Art buyers appeal to easier browsing, more information about artworks, and transparent pricing. The concluded CSFs for buyer adoption are: (1) publicly available pricing; (2) increased discoverability and easier browsing; (3) less intimidating, and; (4) display price developments. For gallery adoption: (1) clear communication of expected results; (2) stricter selection criteria for participating galleries; (3) ease of management; (4) integration with existing OAPs and social media, and; (5) galleries should be able to control who can send inquiries. Additionally, three CSFs for general adoption were found: (1) advanced searching browsing and filtering; (2) large representation of sellers, and (3); editorial content. To successfully reach the mainstream market, platforms should target galleries struggling financially and buyers who are either unable to attend art fairs or are unsatisfied with existing OAPs.
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