Recent press and blog comments appear to suggest that it’s all over for auction houses and antique dealers. The Internet has won – you might as well all give up and move to something less demanding – hairdressing, perhaps or chiropody.
You might be interested in an article in The Economist (not known for panic stricken inaccuracies) entitled “Why the bottom has dropped out of the antiques market” (http://www.economist.com/news/christmas-specials/21683982-why-bottom-has-dropped-out-antiques-market-out-old. Author?) See below*
But the bisons futés of the antiques world are finding clever ways to find the best position in the market place. One of their techniques is DDSM – Demand Driven Supply Management.
As computer connectivity improved, and shift patterns and logistics became 24 hour, DDSM systems were developed to radically change retailing. Real time sales data allowed faster and more cost-effective retail distribution, and very soon wholesale delivery was being directly linked to “manufacturing on demand”.
The benefits were obvious – lower stock levels, improved cash flow, fresher goods, better sales forecasts, and less wastage.
You might feel that this is far removed from the sophisticated and agreeable world of antiques – but it ain’t.
The days are long gone when the traditional auctioneer or antique dealer could happily buy-in stock or accept consignments on the basis that everything has a buyer at a price.
Even with interest rates barely visible, margins are still key. If you look at the gross margin per hour in some of the auction houses, you have to wonder why items are still being processed and then sold for a tenner. And some of the dealers are still cluttered with dark brown furniture which no longer has hope value, let alone reasonable expectation of a turn; and it’s using space which could be earning a respectable yield – albeit, perhaps, with change of use.
No – DDSM Is the way forward. The canny auctioneers and dealers know what will sell promptly and will show a healthy margin. And if you know the Demand, how do you manage the Supply?
The answer is to find a supplier in the shortest possible time who is keen to sell and won’t spend time being difficult about price and delivery. eBay – whilst excellent in many respects – is not the solution; for optimal DDSM it takes too much time in monitoring and negotiating.
Where To Sell was conceived as a way of overcoming these disadvantages for seller and buyer (or intermediary). If they are interested in a particular category (Barometers, say) the buyer can instantly signal their interest to anybody wanting to sell.
No delay; no uncertainty about bona-fides. Minimum time invested; prompt turnover; predictable healthy margin; and everybody happy. Isn’t that what antiques and collectables should be about?
*Anonymous. The Economist never publishes bylines. See http://www.economist.com/blogs/economist-explains/2013/09/economist-explains-itself-1.