Once upon a time, it was essential for an antique dealer to have a beautiful shop where customers were welcome to come in and peruse curated vignettes. They would chat with dealers while caressing the top of a centuries-old sideboard or personally testing the comfort of a leather club chair. While brick and mortar shops still play a significant role in an antique dealer’s business, selling antiques online opens your doors to new customers from across the globe.

The Challenges of Online Antique Sales

Selling antiques online comes with a unique set of challenges. Rather than meeting you at your shop, customers find your pieces based on keywords and SEO (search engine optimization). They purchase pieces solely from your photos and descriptions. Once purchased, you need to ship the piece! While this method of selling could be intimidating, it allows you to connect with a broader base 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 the Right Marketplaces for Selling Antiques Online

Knowing which marketplace is right for your shop is a critical point. Each marketplace caters to a particular type of customer. Some draw serious collectors, while others appeal to interior designers. Other marketplaces offer a mix of antique and decorative items. Often, dealers post their inventory on multiple marketplaces to reach a wider audience. Identifying your ideal customer and where they are most likely to shop online will help you to determine which marketplaces will work best for you.

Understand Fees and Commissions

The marketplaces have varying structures regarding fees and commissions. Understanding how each marketplace charges is vital when pricing your items. Some marketplaces charge a fee to set up your shop on their hosting site and take a commission on every sale. Other online marketplaces charge a monthly fee, like rent, with no commissions. Some sites charge dealers in multiple ways. Understanding the fee structure can help you decide where you want to list your pieces and why.

Person online shopping

Take Excellent Photos

In online sales, quality photography is vital. In a sea of thumbnail photos, your pieces need to stand out. Not only should it be a clear picture taken in natural or studio light, but it should also be the correct size for the marketplace. Before photographing your pieces, go to the individual marketplace and read the specs on photo size. Since potential customers can’t physically examine and touch the item, posting detailed photographs will help them gain confidence in what they are 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 6 Essential Photo Types that Sell.

Person reviewing photo

Fill Out as Many Fields as Possible

Each marketplace has several fields to fill out on the listing page. Some fields are required, and others are optional. It is in your interest to fill in as many fields as possible to provide the maximum information for potential buyers. Being thorough will help you avoid back and forth conversations with customers who need more information. Not sure where to start? Check out how to  Write Winning Product Descriptions. Also, many marketplaces have filters and search boxes that pick up on keywords or fields such as “Style,” “Period,” and “Place of Origin.” The more information you provide, the more “searchable” the item becomes, and more likely it is to be discovered by an interested party.

Research Shipping Options

An online customer may come from any country. Many marketplaces allow you to either manage the shipping logistics yourself or select an option in which they handle some of the details. Some marketplaces have shipping partners like UPS and FedEx for smaller items and can coordinate the shipping for larger pieces. However, if you want to handle the shipping yourself, check out Uship.com to get quotes from local and national shippers.

Shipper packing item

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