Using Zoom to host commercial art gallery exhibitions

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With these changing times, it is important to find ways to adapt.

COVID-19 has been a challenging time for most retail businesses. There has been a need to rely on the digital world whilst the physical one has been out of action.

There have been concerns in the art world at the damage the virus may do to this industry. Exhibitions, events and gallery doors have been closed for months and this closure is having an effect on this industry from the commercial galleries to the artists themselves.

It is likely that these months may have been unsettled and potentially quieter sales wise as people are no longer able to see the artwork in person. However, it might not all be bad news for those who own an art gallery - the digital world could open up some possibilities you may not have tried before.

Allowing people to buy online

Many commercial galleries have a website, but few allow a direct purchase. Most websites are there for browsing only. This is a good time to consider online purchasing by converting your brochure site to a eCommerce platform.

If this might seem like a big leap, platforms such as Facebook have relaxed guidelines a little and simplified the process to allow businesses to setup a Facebook Shop that works across Facebook and Instagram.

Make sure you shop around for the best payment gateway options available to you, most services will take a cut and this all needs to be considered when moving online.

Finally, when you do get the sales - don't forget about packing and shipping the goods.

Hosting online events and exhibitions

There are plenty of online conference and video tools you can use to take your event online. Google and Facebook offer free tools on their platforms or you can sign up to Microsoft Teams or Zoom for paid video tools.

Setting up events for your customers and including the artists is a great way to bring back that intimacy of an exhibition. Giving your customers to have a chance to hear from and speak with the artists they admire is invaluable.

Make sure you have structure to these events and promote them in advance of the big day. A test run is always a good idea for those new to video conferencing.

Tidy up your customer data

This downtime is the perfect opportunity to start tidying up and sorting the data you hold about your customers. Consider segmenting them, so that you can offer more personalised marketing and contact in the future. This might be artist or style of artwork, type of customer, interests. Whatever works best for you.

For some of your customers this could offer an opportunity to pick up the phone and speak with them. If they're a regular customer, why not let them know about your plans this year for the artists they admire? It's a wonderful opportunity to show your customers how much you value them.

Whilst gallery doors might be starting to open again, don't forget that many people may still be wary of coming into your gallery whilst the virus is about. Make sure you keep in touch in other ways such as social media posts, emails, letters and calls.

Plan your reopening

If you're yet to reopen your doors, then take this time to plan your reopening properly. How will social distancing look in your gallery? Is it appointment only? Are masks required? Will you have sanitiser on hand for all visitors? Once you have your plan together, make sure that you are promoting this across all of your channels so visitor know what to expect.

We know that art is physical and sensual and real life exhibitions offer wonderful spaces to celebrate art. Whilst digital will never be able to replace that, we must ensure that these channels are not getting forgotten as more businesses start to reopen. Compliment your traditional marketing and physical gallery with an online experience for all customers to enjoy.

Images in this blog are from The Wykeham Gallery in Stockbridge. We've been working together to host events and get online. If you're in the area, do pay them a visit.

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