PaintingsDirect Sells Art to Business

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PaintingsDirect Inc., an online retailer of contemporary original art, moved into the business-to-business arena with the launch of its Limited Editions feature.


The New York company is offering limited-edition prints of works from artists that sell at www.paintingsdirect.com. It targets home décor buyers for catalogs, custom-framing stores and intermediaries that supply furniture and home furnishing retailers.


"The rationale for going through this distribution channel is because our limited-edition collection is very complementary to the items the catalogers, art and framing stores and home décor furniture retailers are already selling to their customers," said Christine J. Bourron, a French entrepreneur who launched PaintingsDirect online in April 1998.


This move into BTB mimics recent attempts by players such as Amazon.com, eBay.com, urbanfetch.com, Food.com and MotherNature.com to go beyond retailing. For many marketers, BTB is an extra revenue channel, an extension of the business model, or simply an effort to keep investors happy and stay afloat.


Bourron said PaintingsDirect's expansion into BTB also was prompted by numerous queries from buyers interested in original art.


So, the company is trying to kill two birds with one stone with the launch of the Limited Edition prints service. Each piece of art will be reproduced in quantities of 250. Wholesale prices range from $75 to $200 per print, signed and numbered by the participating artist. At retail, these prints might sell at $200 to $600 apiece.


"The artist retains the right to the images," Bourron said. "The printing technology we use is with archival ink that would last 200 years. A lot of the paper we use is the same type of paper an artist would use. This is not a poster."


PaintingsDirect is one of the leading retailers of original artwork on the Internet. Other players in this space include art.com, Guild.com, artnet.com and barewalls.com. PaintingsDirect represents more than 450 artists from more than 40 countries. The site lists more than 10,000 original paintings, photographs and limited-edition prints.


Artists participating in the limited-edition initiative include Vincent Scilla, Douglas Jamieson, Marilyn Weiss, Alexander Motyl and Cecily Barth Firestein.


"We've selected the most popular artists based on our knowledge of the art market and customer purchase trends," Bourron said.


The retailer will rely on personal relationships with its target audience, networking, direct mail and telemarketing to convince them to buy from PaintingsDirect. These contacts can go to the database or online catalog of these prints on the PaintingsDirect site and buy that way or call the company.


"What we're doing right now with a few art and framing stores is we're providing them with a customized Web interface that allows them to browse the online catalog and show the products to their customers," Bourron said. "It's our products but under their name on a customized page on PaintingsDirect.com."


This is not PaintingsDirect's first initiative to sell products beyond original paintings.


"It's a step-by-step evolution for us," Bourron said. "In April this year, we launched an initiative to produce posters for sale on BarnesandNoble.com."


The goal with the limited edition effort, she said, was "to have a different distribution channel to reach the mass market."
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