Shopping for Art In-Store Versus Online

If you are shopping for art do you prefer to buy in store or online? Has advancement in online trading made shopping for pieces of art cheaper as opposed to the traditional shopping in a store?
Well, that seems to be the principal of shopping in-store vs. online shopping for any product you wish to buy. You must think again if you believe that shopping online is cheaper as big data has helped to challenge conventional stores.

Economist Alberto Cavallo from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology conducted a large-scale study regarding online and offline prices offered by big retailers.

The result of the study might be quite surprising to you; the research revealed that 72% of the prices were identical. Although, the research did not compare regular store prices with online-only retailers like However, it was compared with big retailers especially in Australia that tend to dominate consumer spending, and the result was fascinating. The price of online and offline stores are surprisingly similar to prices online

This is very strange to what most consumers always expect. In my discussion with Cavallo, he made it known to me that there is a general belief that online prices are different from those in the physical stores, although consensus has not been reached on what margin the difference between both prices is.

He also said people tend to form their beliefs base on their perceptions which is also a factor on the retailer or country they buy in. The objective of the research was to get data and prove that prices are usually similar in large multi-channel retailers, which harbors the vast majority of retail sales.

The enormous price check by Cavello research revealed that clothing and electronics had the highest share of identical price both offline and online. Office supplies had the lowest share of identical price although they were sometimes uneven in stores.

The economist professor also compared the online and in-store price of popular Australian stores such as Masters, Woolworths, Coles, and Target and found that about 74% of Australia’s online and store prices were identical. The result was slightly above than that of the United States where 69% of prices were similar but below that of the United Kingdom and Canada both having 91%.

The most fascinating and unique about the result of the research is that Australia was part of the two countries where big online retailers charge higher prices in the cases where there was a difference.

Cavallo said the reason behind this is not known to him but assumes that it may be that due to the expectation of retailers that online shoppers tend to pay more or perhaps they are simply trying to cover up for the delivery cost.

When buying art online it is always riskier as you do not know the actual quality or appearance. A photograph of the artwork may not show the true appearance of the piece and you cannot negotiate prices or extras with the vendor. When buying art in stores, artists and vendors can offer helpful styling tips and information about the art piece. They also often have packing and crating services to safely transport your art home as well as recommended art showcases to display your lovely artwork properly. When shopping for art on an online website, ensure that it is a proper artist or trusted art retailer, by looking at the web page content and seeing whether the artwork is authentic. As discussed above, prices will most likely be quite similar or only differ slightly online or in stores. In determining whether a shopping website is genuine, have a look at the content strategy and products offered, don’t forget to look at customer reviews and forums.

When shopping for artwork, in particular, I personally enjoy browsing online to get a taste of what type of art I want, then visiting actual stores to further research and to purchase. I find that artists and shop assistants have valuable insights into styling your space and how to best display your artwork. This customer service is unique and is an experience you will not get from simply browsing or shopping online. You can also specifically see the artwork in person rather than risk getting an unfavourable surprise when a piece of art arrives at your door and it is not what you expected or it has been damaged in transit. Art retailers have your best interests at the forefront of their business and are often very passionate about their art. I feel like it is rewarding to thank and appreciate the artist by shopping in-store and talking face to face.