To post prices or to not post prices??
The debate about posting prices for art or craft on the web has raged on for years. One faction advocates that no posted price encourages customers to contact the artist or gallery. A different faction rationalizes that most potential buyers will be discouraged if such basic information is not readily available. Read on for my opinion on this issue...
I've been wondering... with the ease of comparing prices right in the palm of your hand.... what is the impact on the arts and craft market? Can you vary your asking (retail) price in different market niches?
My experience in a recent eBay auction has helped gel my opinion.
It all started when my sister found a Pat Flynn bracelet on eBay for a minimum bid of $650. We both recognized this as a great deal.
While Pat Flynn has no prices on his web site, it didn't take much detective work to find this production bracelet #9 available at multiple locations, galleries, stores and online marketplaces with the retail price of $1,680.
Since I was able to verify the retail price, the eBay $650 starting bid would be a fantastic price for a Pat Flynn bracelet. Would it sell for $650? With 24 hours before the deadline, there were no bidders.
As every brick and mortar retailer moves to online sales for survival, prices online will be expected, just like in the store. Everyone expects the price to be listed even for art & craft. No posted price indicates that the item is not for sale or it is already sold. The days of "price available upon request" is truly only for the most rarefied, truly one of a kind, and very high end (i.e. if you have to ask, you can't afford it).
THE eBay BIDDING 24 HOURS LATER...
The next day as the bidding deadline was getting closer.....I followed it closely. As I had discovered already, any potential bidder could easily find price comparisons to verify the retail value of the bracelet. In the last two hours, the bidding rapidly accelerated.
Listing your prices on-line establishes value. In this example, there was ample evidence that the asking price for a Pat Flynn bracelet was $1,680 at several different locations across the U.S., so any price below that would be a bargain.
THE eBay BIDDING CLOSED
The bidding ended significantly closer to retail....though not quite full retail. Someone still got a great deal at $1,031 -- saving $100's off the full retail price elsewhere. I think if the eBay listing had a better photo, they would have had more bidders earlier on, but still an exciting frantic finish.
Put your maker's mark clearly on your work. Pat Flynn's work is clearly identifiable not just with his signature style and materials, but because of his maker's mark in gold on the inside of every bracelet. Even for a person with little knowledge of art jewelry market they know this is by Pat Flynn.
Obviously, the photo on e-bay was terrible (left) and the description of the Pat Flynn bracelet was unsophisticated and even incomplete. Still they had his name in the description on eBay which brought bidders. Your maker's mark, signature or stamp is important to establishing the value of your work.
With limited or no established secondary market for art jewelry and craft the possibilities of bargains on eBay will be more commonplace. People selling items from an estate will turn to eBay as online continues to expand. The potential for a discovery is there.
A variation on the debate about posting prices is whether pricing can or should vary in different markets. Artists and makers have often commented, "I can't sell my work for that price in my own hometown. Shouldn't my work sell at a lower price at a local store and at a higher price in the big city galleries?" In response, my professional recommendation is and has always been that work has to be the same price everywhere.
Especially with price comparisons so easy on the Internet, prices need to be consistent everywhere. This is most important where the customer can compare identical items. Price comparisons are inevitable.
And most important, artists and makers need to price their work at full retail on their website so as not to confuse their customers or undercut their galleries/stores/online markets. The on-line posted price establishes value.
The new reality is that artists may have more control of the retail price. As pricing visibility on-line becomes the status quo there may be beneficial consequences for artists and makers. Quickly fading are the days that brick and mortar locations could add another 10% or 20% to retail figuring no one will notice.
Retail prices are now viewed with the transparency of the web and the convenience of a smart phone. Price comparisons are only a search away in the palm of your customer's hand. Variations in price are immediately discovered and compared against similar to identical items. Control of your recommended retail price is now the artist's decision more than ever before.
Take the power and the responsibility of controlling the value of your work.
Establish a recommended retail price consistent for all situations and establish the value of your work.
Guide to images found online:
SPRINKLE NAIL BRACELET
Nail Bracelet by Pat Flynn made with black iron and 18 karat yellow gold hinge featuring nine small diamonds in palladium settings.Price: $1,680.00
This Pat Flynn nail bracelet is hand forged from iron and finished with an 18K yellow gold clasp. There are nine diamonds set in 18K palladium bezels that are scattered throughout the bracelet adding an element of surprise and just the right amount of sparkle. Wear this edgy hinged bracelet solo or stacked into your everyday collection. This is a truly unique collector's piece. Look to the interior for a stamped and artist signed 18K yellow gold plate!
Since each item is handmade, slight variations may occur.