Mastering Online Antique Sales: Strategies to Build Buyer Confidence and Increase Profits

Jun 08, 2024

Being an antique dealer in the modern era is a dynamic challenge that requires mastering modern marketplaces to maximize your hard-earned profits. The way the world shops for antiques has transformed and will continue to do so, with dynamic online marketplaces shaping how buyers search, shop, and compare antiques. By understanding these modern marketplaces deeply, dealers can gain an edge over their competitors and significantly boost their profits. Just as traditional stores strategically place their items on shelves and in windows to attract customers, there are steps you can take online to attract customers to your postings. By carefully using keywords and product listing titles, you can move your online listing to the front window of the online marketplace. Join us on a journey to discover how the most successful antique dealers strategically use their product listing descriptions, photos, and keywords combined with search engine optimization to elevate their products to the top of customers' shopping carts and, in turn, their profits.


Online Antique Market Places in the 21st Century

The modern marketplace for antiques continues to be an online marketplace and is expected to grow more yearly. A recent analysis of how people shop published in Fit Small Business looked at 75 statistics of online shoppers and what sways them to choosing one product or vendor over the other. Key takeaways from this analysis discovered that:

- More than 80% of the US population shops online
- More than 55% of US shoppers prefer to shop online
- Nearly half of online shoppers say they shop on social media
- User-generated content is critical for successful sales

Understanding how to be successful as an antique dealer today is not luck; it's about understanding how customers shop and browse for antiques online. This knowledge empowers you to take the proper steps and avoid common pitfalls. Successful dealers will be skilled at crafting product descriptions, taking excellent photos of their products, having great customer service skills, and pricing their products to match demand.



Crafting Compelling Product Descriptions for Antiques

Excellent product descriptions are not just about listing features; they're about telling a compelling story. A well-crafted product description should include appropriate keywords, describe the antique and its condition, and, most importantly, inspire the reader with a captivating narrative. The listing must be as accurate as possible to ensure positive feedback on online marketplaces.

Titles: The first step in creating a product description is creating a title to capture the shopper's attention. Great titles should be written as if you were the one searching for the antique you're selling. The title should include the name of the antique and some key details about the item but should be limited to 50-60 characters. This character count makes your listing rank higher when searched for on popular search engines like Google. Including keywords relevant to your antique listing in the title further increases search engine ranking and SEO.

Descriptions and Selling a Story: Great product descriptions will include important information about the physical state of the antique, including its condition, designer, dimension, and period. These descriptions must be accurate as customer feedback on the online marketplaces greatly influences the dealers' customers' choice to shop with them. Besides physical descriptions, successful antique dealers will know how to sell the item's story. Stories resonate deeply with buyers; the better the story is, the better your sales will be. Take, for example, Four Hands, an antique importing company behind what many marketing and advertising professionals consider the best product description and advertising campaign of all time. Before 2006, Four Hands made their money strictly by importing antiques from around the world. As competition grew, For Hands began to lose its market share and was on the verge of breaking. Knowing that they needed to make a change in 2006, they started advertising their antiques imported from other countries as telling the story of a " world perspective" of antiques. They also worked to make their antiques with a unique world perspective available online to as many interior designers as possible. This change in the way they advertised their antiques grew Four Hands from 40 million in sales in 2006 to 600 million in sales alone in 2022. This type of product description and advertising is known as "lifestyle marketing" and is one of the most effective ways to sell products.

Condition: With online marketplaces, establishing yourself as a reputable dealer is critical to growth, as customers are much more likely to buy from a dealer with positive reviews. The condition of an antique must be documented thoroughly, both with photos and written descriptions, and should include:

- Precise details about the item's era
- History of the item (why it was made, its purpose, its journey to you)
- Defects or damages to the item
- If it has been restored in any way or is entirely original

Transparency sells more, and customers who have dealt with a transparent dealer are much more likely to shop with them again in the future.



Sell More Antiques Faster With Great Product Photos

The power of the camera must be considered when listing an antique on an online marketplace. Excellent product photos often differentiate between a sale and a missed opportunity online. Product photos for online antique listings should:

- Present the item from multiple different angles
- Utilize lighting to maximize clear, detailed photos
- Have a clean and tidy background
- Document maker marks, designs, and condition

Investing in a quality camera or a smartphone with a quality camera and a well-lit space is crucial for presenting your antiques at their absolute best. The photos should blend different angles and zoom levels, with particular interest paid to the best aspects of an antique. Natural lighting is ideal, but if this is not possible, light sources should be managed to prevent harsh shadows or excessive glare. Generally, a 1:1 aspect ratio is standard for e-commerce photography and should be used for product photos. The rule of thirds is also an excellent tool to use to learn how to position an antique and its background to create esthetically pleasing pictures for customers to view.


Choosing the Right Online MarketPlace to List on

There are hundreds of online marketplaces with different strengths and weaknesses for antique dealers. Many of these online marketplaces also allow customers to leave reviews of dealers, which can be great for future sales and growing your presence as a respected and reputable antique dealer. Let's take a look at some of the most popular online marketplaces for antique dealers and their strengths and weaknesses.

eBay: eBay is one of the most popular and prominent platforms for antique dealers to buy and sell on. It has great strengths that include:

- A massive user base with over 135 million users
- An established audience and review system
- A section dedicated to antiques

Despite these great strengths, eBay does have some drawbacks. The largest drawback of selling antiques on eBay is the listing prices, which can add up for dealers with a larger inventory of products. eBay takes a percentage of the selling price from dealers, with the average being 13.25% of the final selling price. This rate can average between 5% and 15%. More detailed transaction percentages can be found on eBay's websitehere. eBay is also an excellent tool for comparing antique prices, helping you understand the market and the going rate of what you are selling. While several successful dealers on eBay sell more oversized antiques like furniture, the shipping costs of larger items can add up. Until dealers become more acquainted with the shipping process of larger items, we recommend starting with smaller antiques that are easier to ship while you get used to the shipping process.

Etsy: Etsy is similar to eBay as it has a large user base but with the added benefit that it has become heavily associated with antiques and other artisan goods. It has a strong user base and review system that dealers can use to build up their presence, like eBay; Etsy is ideal for smaller and more unique antique finds as it charges dealers to list items on the platform. Once dealers become more acquainted with the platforms and shipping, branching out to oversized antiques can be very profitable as well.

Antique-Specific Market Places: While eBay and Etsy are two of the biggest online marketplaces for selling antiques, there are other great platforms that cater specifically to antique and vintage listings. Marketplaces like Ruby Lane, Chairish, and 1stDibs target customers looking to buy high-end antiques and vintage items. Although they may attract fewer customers, these platforms have a respectable audience size specifically seeking out antiques and can be highly profitable for dealers targeting high-end clientele. We recommend using these platforms for higher-end antiques. The downside of these marketplaces includes:

- More selective seller application processes
- Subscription fees as a seller
- Smaller customer pools than giants like eBay and Etsy

If you've never heard of Ruby Lane, Chairish, or 1stDibs check them out online they may just be the perfect fit for your antiques.


Social Media and Other Online Options to Sell Antiques

Social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and X(Twitter) can be great tools for antique dealers to build their reputations and sell antiques. Half of online shoppers polled stated that they made a purchase of a product through social media, and this number is expected to grow. Many of these platforms have local groups filled with buyers and sellers of antiques, which can be profitable for antique dealers as well.


Master Online Markets for Maximum Profits

As the world of antiques continues to change, so does the way people shop. From online giants like eBay and Etsy to antique-focused markets like Ruby Lane, Chairish, and 1stDibs, there have never been more options to sell on than ever before. By learning how to create listings and which platform to choose, you can master the online marketplace and maximize your profits as a successful antique dealer.


Ever dreamed of turning your love for antiques into a successful career?

Dive into a world of hidden treasures and rich history with our comprehensive online course. Start with FREE access to our Introductory Module!

Let's Start Your Journey!

Stay connected!

Join our mailing list to receive the latest blog posts and updates from our team.

We hate spam as much as you do. Rest assured, we will never sell your information for any reason.