By making your antique inventory available on the internet you will dramatically increase your commercial reach by catering not only to local customers but also to international ones. You might also ultimately be able to say goodbye to the necessity of maintaining an expensive brick-and-mortar storefront to conduct your day-to-day business.
Also, having your own online distribution channel allows you to be visible 24/7, and can help create a steady stream of revenue even when you’re asleep or taking a holiday break. Creating your own antique store doesn’t only showcases your expertise in a particular field, and your inventory all year long. it will also actively boost your antique business from an SEO point of view, which is basically free advertising.
Last but not least, your digital presence is also a boon for buyers. When a collector is looking for specific antiques, he doesn’t necessarily have to embark anymore on an exhausting journey to attend specialty fairs and antique shows. Customers can just go straight to your antique website to browse your inventory, proceed to the purchase of the desired items, and have it delivered directly to their doorstep in just a few clicks.
And not matter whether your goal is merely to increase your visibility online thanks to SEO, or create a full-fledged e-commerce solution to sell your inventory to customers worldwide, one thing you will need is a website.
I have a Facebook/Instagram Shop. Why would I need a website?
Facebook and Instagram have come a long way since being exclusively social media and photo-sharing apps. Both platforms now integrate, among other features, live shopping features.
Facebook Shops and Instagram Shops make it easy for businesses to set up a single online store for customers to access on both Facebook and Instagram. Creating a Facebook or Instagram Shop is free and simple. Businesses can choose the products they want to feature from their catalog and then customize the look and feel of their shop with a cover image and accent colors that showcase their brand. This means any seller, no matter their size or budget, can bring their business online and connect with customers wherever and whenever it’s convenient for them.
People can find Facebook Shops on a business’ Facebook Page or Instagram profile, or discover them through stories or ads. From there, you can browse the full collection, save products you’re interested in and place an order — either on the business’ website or without leaving the app if the business has enabled checkout in the US.
Limitation #1: cost. While setting up a Facebook store is free of cost, there’s a Facebook shop fee applicable for orders processed using the in-app checkout option. This transaction fee amounts to 5% on every order or a straight cut of USD 0.40 for orders of USD 8.00 or less.
Limitation #2: customization. Facebook Shops and Instagram Shops are customizable, allowing you to change your Shop’s button color and text size among other styling options. However, these features are very basic, and you may be very quickly limited in terms of what you want to do to make your shop stand out compared to your competitors.
Create a website that expresses something about who you are that won’t fit into the template available to you on a social networking site.
I sell on Etsy and eBay and things are going great. Why would I need a website?
Etsy, eBay, Ruby Lane, and other marketplaces are fantastic complementary platforms to promote and sell your antiques online. However, as useful as they can be, they are not a substitute for a website. Having your own website allows you to free yourself from some of the limitations and constraints posed by these marketplaces.
When I first started my vintage shop on Etsy in 2011, things were going great and my shop sales and success grew rapidly. My Etsy shop made it to the top 1% of Etsy shop sales, and that was exciting. At the end of 2015, Etsy started making changes to its platform and those changes have been very challenging to overcome. It was at that time that I knew I needed to expand my business outside of Etsy in order to continue being successful and grow, and I ultimately started my ThirdShift Vintage store on Shopify.
In addition to the more or less important costs related to the sales you make, these platforms allow little or no customization, in order to keep a certain structure and uniformity on the whole site. Moreover, from an SEO point of view, these marketplaces offer more limited tools than those offered by Shopify and WordPress/WooCommerce. Last but not least, you and your business are not safe from a policy change that can negatively impact your business.
Again, it’s not a bad thing to diversify your distribution channels to sell antiques online, quite the contrary. However, exclusively relying on third-party platforms to develop your antique business online is not strategically sound.
But what if I don’t have the technical know-how to create a website?
One of the most popular misconceptions about creating a website is that it is necessary to have thorough technical knowledge. This could not be further from the truth. Today, there are many turnkey solutions that allow you to set up an online store in a matter of hours, a day at most. These solutions allow you to create a website for free or at least at a reduced cost, relatively easily, and without spending all your free time learning to code.
What is true, however, is that basic technical knowledge empowers you to customize your site to your taste, and above all gives you more autonomy to maintain it without outside help – which can pay off over time.
When it comes to creating a website, the choice boils down to basically two alternatives: Either you create your own website on a Content Management System (CMS), or you opt for a fully hosted e-commerce solution.
There are currently 3 main CMS and more than 8 hosted e-commerce platforms available. For the sake of keeping this article concise, we will focus on the most popular systems: WooCommerce (based on the WordPress CMS) and Shopify (turnkey e-commerce solution).
If you still don’t have time to create a website, and your budget allows it, you can also hire an agency specialized in the creation of websites for antique dealers, such as Antiques Web Design by ph9. We have reserved below a section dedicated to the most reliable web design agencies specialized in the field of antiques.