Affordable Art Fair (AAF) is a global art event company, whose primary objective is to democratise access to art valued under £5,000. Their fairs are focussed on providing consumers with ease of buying, a range of choice and (of course) affordable prices.
AAF approached Matter Of Form to help transform their business from global events, to global retail. No small feat for a multitude of reasons. Firstly, there was a natural tension that existed between teams responsible for event sales and those focussed on the online direct to consumer model. Secondly, the digitisation of the on-boarding processes for galleries wishing to apply into the marketplace involved a deeply complex business logic, resulted in nuanced process flows that were difficult to replicate online. Lastly, selling art online is a tightrope act — balancing experience and inspiration with functional and fact-based information whilst handholding users through to conversion is a tough act.
The project was divided into three distinct work streams. The first required a deep dive audit and set of recommendations around the gallery application process; this set of flows was developed into an online portal, and subsequently integrated with a Salesforce Enterprise project running in parallel. A clear and intuitive user experience was key for galleries wishing to apply; none of whom had online commerce experience.
The consumer facing marketplace required a complex user experience design phase — we needed to ensure that events retail teams had their priorities in balance. The lifeblood of the business is in its ticketing and event-stand sales, and it was important to pay respect to this commercial reality.
A strong and curatorial content strategy was also vital to create sustained engagement— ours sought to both inspire and guide users to a natural set of buying choices based on themes. These ranged from topics such as investment, through to medium, style and more obvious gallery and artist profiles.
Technologically, we built a marketplace using Magento to power the catalogue and checkout. There was a ream of considerations to account for, including complexities around returns, insurance, fulfilment, through to more behavioural challenges — for example how to incentivise galleries to keep (almost entirely) one-off inventory up to date.
Lastly, shipping presented a particularly unique set of issues (art dimensions, value and weight vary dramatically). We needed to find a resolve that remained intuitive enough to financially forecast, especially so when combined with shipping and returns in a global context. Our solution included multiple integrations to ensure we always return the best price and most efficient mechanism for delivery.
Since the site was launched, the AFF have seen a 350% increase in new month on month customers and a 200% increase in year on year customers. They have also seen a 14% increase in repeat purchases.
The AAF were a finalist for “Best Other Website” at the eCommerce Awards 2017.