Selling art online is a booming business. The just-released annual TEFAF report put 2014 online sales at about €3.3 billion ($3.5 billion), which represents 6 percent of the total art market. That was a solid jump from its 2013 estimate of €2.5 billion ($2.62 billion). It has projected that, by 2020, online sales could hit €10 billion ($10.5 billion), and quite a few companies are angling for a piece of that pie.
How successful have they been at finding an audience? The graph above shows the digital reach of various online art marketplaces, as measured by social media followers and estimated traffic. In most categories, Artnet, which was the first to market, firmly leads the pack.
Of course, raw numbers can’t tell the whole story. Successful enterprises need the right (read: wealthy) eyes, not just a lot of them. However, a robust web presence certainly doesn’t hurt since the average price point on online sales is relatively low, meaning that this is a volume business.
A note on methodology: traffic numbers are 3-month averages compiled via SimilarWeb as of January 31, which is also the end date for all social-media figures. These numbers were compiled by Skate’s Art Market Research, which is part of Artnews S.A., as is ARTnews. Skate’s just released its e-commerce report; it’s available here.