Managing delivery charges for artwork purchased online

Shipping Sold Artwork – a blog for Artist Members’ consideration initiated by the Gallery Conveners

All artwork featuring either in an online exhibition or an Artist’s own directory space can now be purchased online if marked for sale. We have not yet incorporated any means of either estimating or paying for delivery but have identified some possible options which we would now like to share with you for your consideration via this blog.

The current online purchasing arrangement is fine for buyers who are able to collect their purchased artwork from the Club but falls down when the buyer requires delivery.  When this is case the prospective purchaser currently has to submit an enquiry.  The enquiry then needs to be dealt with by a member of staff by firstly obtaining a delivery quote and then informing the prospective buyer.  It would be preferable if the prospective buyer could be made aware of the delivery charge while online contemplating their purchase.   The alternative means of arranging delivery would appear to be:

  • Using a mainstream courier service – for works that are ideally not behind glass or alternatively behind acrylic glass we could use a universal hub and spoke courier service such as Parcel Force.  In Parcel Force’s case they will deliver artwork to any UK mainland address that does not exceed 3 metres when the length and width of the package are added together.  The cost of insurance, for which they can provide cover for up to a value of £2,500, is the main cost determinant.  For example using a 24 hour door to door delivery service, an artwork valued at  £300 would cost £24 inc VAT while £1,000 would cost £55 and  £2,500 would cost £123.  It should be noted that this option would require that either the artist or a volunteer dismantling an exhibition to pack the work ready for shipping.
  • Using a dedicated art handling door to door service such as ABC Couriers – for any artwork of any value that needs to delivered locally the Club could use a local courier such as ABC whose charge would vary with delivery distance. As an example door to door delivery from the Club to Paisley would cost about £40, further afield to say Stirling or Ayr around £60 while Edinburgh, depending upon which side of Edinburgh would be around £80
  • Using  a dedicated art handling hub and spoke service such as Aardvark – who are a specialist fine art and antiquities courier service offering a UK mainland service. Artwork not exceeding 1 square meter in area would cost £118 inc VAT to deliver to a UK mainland address..

After analysing a series of Parcelforce quotations for different sizes and values of artwork we believe that this would be a suitable option for work that is either not behind glass or behind acrylic valued at £1,000 or less.  For such works the cost of shipping to a UK address could be advertised as being circa 10% of the artwork’s value providing that either the the artist or volunteers dismantling an exhibition were able to arrange packing.

This would then mean that for all work that is either worth in excess of £1,000, or behind glass would need to be subject to enquiry.

We would welcome your thoughts and ideas on this topic, in particular with respect to entrusting glazed work to a universal courier such as Parcel Force and the need for either the artist or a volunteer to pack the work ready for shipping.


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