The traditional art supply store is becoming a rarity as more people start to buy their supplies online. The convenience of the Internet allows artists to easily purchase the supplies they need. This is especially useful for people who require uncommon or niche supplies that would be hard to find in most art shops. All you need to run this type of business is a website with an integrated online shop.
Skills needed: It will be helpful if you are familiar with the products which you sell so that you can deal with customer enquiries.
Business environment and set-up cost: This business has potential for being successful in other countries, especially if you sell a diverse range of products. The cost to start this business is relatively low. You will need to pay for the design and hosting of your website and online shop, plus the initial cost of purchasing an inventory. The overall start-up cost will range from less than £1,250 to £2,500 (1,500 – 3,000 EUR, 2,500-5,000 AUD/USD).
Make sure your website is easy to find by using search engine optimisation (SEO)
Participate in the pay-per-click schemes of the popular search engines
Become active on the art newsgroups and discussion forums that potential customers are likely to frequent, remembering to include a signature linking to your website
Have a mailing list which informs your customer base about new additions to your product catalogue
Regularly write some original content for your website such as art tips in order to attract repeat visits
Use OnlineOffice to set up web-site, blog and online shop to promote your business online
Complimentary business ideas: You could work in partnership with your artist customers to help them sell their artwork. This could be achieved through listing classified adverts or by running an auction.
Notes: As with every online shop, it is essential that your inventory is kept up to date. If you are out of stock then your website must display this immediately because it is very unprofessional if a customer orders something you do not have.
Online examples & resources:
For previous SME start-up ideas, look through the archive here