Art buyers are cyber customers like any other: they expect impeccable delivery service. According to the study just published by insurer Hiscox on the online art market, delivery appears to be a key point in the competition between dedicated platforms. Because for 41% of shoppers hesitant to buy art online, it’s concerns about costs and delivery times that put them off.
A French SME, Group ESI, sniffed the windfall, while digital sales grew exponentially with lockdowns. She was already one of the leaders in the transport of works of art in the world, for museums, fairs, gallery owners, antique dealers, architects, decorators, and she created the start-up ThePackengers to revolutionize the logistics of the online art market.
Two years to create the algorithm
” We are the first to be able to give a price for the packaging and transport of a work in one click: a decisive, trigger, in e-commerce. Because each work has its specificities and the price depends on the size of the protection box, the fragility of the piece, its value, its destination … We took two years to create an algorithm integrating all these parameters “, Explain Amaury Chaumet, the general manager of ESI, who will even propose by the summer a bitcoin payment. Its young shoot has grown by 450% in 2020.
Drouot Digital, which covers “online only” (auctions without an auctioneer for a fixed period) and “live” (auction broadcast live from a room), was a pioneer in the implementation of this service on his site.
“ We understood that the world was in the process of ‘Amazonizing’, Explain Alexandre giquello, the president of Drouot. Technological habits have changed in one year as much as in ten years. We had to respond to this new way of consuming: I want, I order, I pay right away and I am delivered immediately, I do not take care of anything. “
The Internet user can even, upstream of the auction, depending on the price he is ready to put in a lot, obtain a quote, since the delivery rate is linked to the value of the work.
“ This service was all the more attractive with online sales, Drouot attracted many more individuals, while for decades the clientele was made up of merchants with their own carrier. “, Continues Alexandre Giquello, who has rocked all online sales of less than 50,000 euros. Drouot Digital has become the house’s growth driver, with 550 houses operating there compared to 70 in the auction rooms of the Drouot hotel.
Customs approved, Group ESI has 4,000 square meters of storage in Saint-Denis where the lots can be packed in 24 hours. After Drouot, ThePackengers leaves conquering the American and European markets. In London, Madrid and northern Italy, the young company has already opened warehouses, recruited teams and deployed its own fleet of trucks. In addition to New York and Los Angeles where it has just established itself, it is also targeting Moscow, Saint Petersburg (ESI has a strong presence in Russia) and Hong Kong by the end of the year.
While in 2009, ESI achieved a turnover of 2 million and employed 9 people, it is now 43 million euros in activity and more than 350 employees, including 140 employees focused on tailor-made transport that make up the company.
Up to 250,000 euros
Amaury Chaumet, 80% shareholder of the company alongside Weber Investissements, the fund of Didier Le Menestrel and Christian Gueugnier (the founders of Financière de l’Echiquier), is in negotiation with American online auction platforms like Invaluable or LiveAuctioneers, but also with Christie’s and Sotheby’s, or even with the French aggregator Interenchères.
“ There isn’t an auction house that isn’t interested. On April 28, we worked for the first time with Bonhams. Now we are also going to explore the galleries », Specifies Amaury Chaumet. After shipping 12,000 lots last year, he expects 50,000 to 70,000 this year – the most expensive work bought on the net and packaged by him having a value of 250,000 euros.
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