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From Humble Studio to Global Gallery: Scaling Your Art Business with Art Inventory Management Software

15 March 2024

From Humble Studio to Global Gallery: Scaling Your Art Business with Art Inventory Management Software

We’re entering a new era of art dealerships as technology is now influencing how art enthusiasts, brokers, and artists interact. We’re seeing great shifts in the industry as more industry stakeholders begin leaning on digital tools as a way of art commerce. 

In this article, we will discuss one particular digital tool— art inventory management. Moreover, we’ll look at why it’s helpful for galleries and how you can use it to reach the whole art world and get clients across borders.

What is Art Inventory Management, and What Does It Do?

Art inventory management software is a tool that helps artists, galleries, and other art businesses track their inventory, including artworks, supplies, and equipment. Art inventory management software can be valuable for any art business, regardless of size. It can help you save time and money and improve the efficiency of your operations.

How does this tool help you achieve those benefits (we’ll look at more benefits later)? What does art inventory management software do? Here are some key features:

1) Keep Track of Your Inventory

Art inventory management software streamlines the way artists and galleries oversee their entire art inventory. Most galleries use this technology to effortlessly monitor their artwork and ensure they know their current status. That way, users maintain an optimal inventory.

2) Manage Your Inventory

The best art inventory software goes beyond tracking. It allows for comprehensive inventory management, including the ability to categorize artworks by type, artist, or any other custom classification you might need. 

This function is most useful for keeping your collection organized and easily accessible. Some of the best times to use it are when preparing for a show, updating your portfolio, or conducting a sale.

3) Track the Location of Your Artwork

Artworks move just as much as any consumer good or product today. Art exports reached $33.4 billion in 2022. And with increased deliveries, you’ll need a way to track and locate your artwork when moving.

This capability will be most useful for those operating in multiple spaces, like galleries or traveling exhibitions. Whether your pieces are in storage, on loan, in transit, or on display, you'll have up-to-date information on where each item is, adding an invaluable layer of security and logistical control.

4) Monitor the Condition of Your Artwork

One key feature of art inventory management software is its ability to help you monitor the condition of your artwork. This feature is crucial for maintaining the value and longevity of your pieces. 

You can log, track, and review condition reports. This will allow you to promptly respond to conservation and restoration needs.

5) Generate Reports on Your Inventory

With the right software, you will generate detailed reports on your art inventory within moments. These reports can encompass a variety of data points, such as the value of your collection, sales history, provenance, and exhibition records. 

Use these insights for strategic planning, financial management, and understanding the performance of different artists or genres within your collection.

6) Create Invoices and Packing Slips

The art gallery management software simplifies administrative tasks by allowing you to create professional invoices and packing slips directly from the system. This feature streamlines the sales process, enhances buyer experience, and ensures accurate and timely documentation for every transaction.

7) Manage Your Customer Relationships

Several art inventory management tools can help you manage relationships with buyers, collectors, and other stakeholders when selling art. These tools can track sales, contact information, purchase history, preferences, and other data that can help you build strong, lasting relationships with your clientele.

Benefits of Using Art Inventory Management Software

Why should you use art inventory management software? Here are some benefits that will convince you to adopt this technology if you haven’t yet:

1) Efficient Organization of Art Inventory

One of the primary advantages of using art inventory software is its efficient organization. With these systems, managing many artworks becomes simpler and more effective. You can categorize and sort artworks based on artist, medium, size, and price criteria. This organization is critical for quick retrieval and effective management of your collection.

2) Streamlined Tracking and Management

The best art inventory management software offers comprehensive tracking features that keep you updated on every aspect of your inventory. 

This includes real-time tracking of stock levels, the location of artworks, and their current status (sold, available, or on exhibit). Such detailed tracking prevents stock discrepancies and ensures you are always informed about your inventory's whereabouts and condition.

3) Enhanced Artwork Condition Monitoring

Preserving the condition of art is paramount for its value retention and longevity. Art inventory software often includes features that allow you to record the condition of each piece regularly.

4) Accurate and Quick Documentation

With art inventory management software, generating documents like invoices, consignment agreements, and packing slips is much faster and error-free. This saves time and enhances professionalism in dealings with buyers and collectors. 

Accurate documentation helps maintain clear records and ensure compliance with legal and financial obligations.

5) Time and Cost Efficiency

These software solutions save considerable time and reduce operational costs by automating many of the administrative tasks related to inventory management. The efficiency gained allows artists and gallery owners to devote more time to creative and strategic activities rather than getting bogged down by paperwork and inventory tracking.

6) Increased Accessibility and Mobility

Many modern art inventory software solutions offer cloud-based access. That means you can manage your inventory from anywhere at any time. This flexibility benefits artists and gallery owners who travel frequently or manage multiple exhibition spaces.

Best Practices When Using Art Inventory Management Software

When you use art inventory management software, best practices will help you get the most out of this essential tool. Here's a guide to optimizing your use of this software:

1) Regularly Update Your Inventory

Consistency is key. Make it a habit to update your inventory in the software immediately after any change occurs, be it a new acquisition, a sale, or a movement of artwork. This ensures that your data is always current and reliable.

2) Use Detailed Descriptions and High-Quality Images

Include detailed descriptions and high-resolution images for each piece of artwork. This should cover dimensions, medium, year of creation, artist details, and any other pertinent information. High-quality visuals are crucial for online presentations, insurance purposes, and sales catalogs.

3) Leverage Categorization and Tagging Features

Most art inventory management software offers categorization and tagging capabilities. Use these features to organize your collection effectively. This can include sorting by artist, genre, medium, or custom tags relevant to your collection or business model.

4) Regularly Back Up Data

Ensure that your inventory data is backed up regularly. Check how the provider handles data backups and recovery if your software is cloud-based. If it’s locally hosted, set up a routine for manual backups. This protects your data against loss due to hardware failures, software issues, or other unforeseen circumstances.

5) Stay on Top of Artwork Condition Reports

Keep detailed condition reports within your inventory system. Regularly update these reports to reflect any changes or restoration work. This practice is essential for insurance purposes, future appraisals, and maintaining the integrity of your collection.

6) Train Your Team Appropriately

If you have staff or assistants, ensure they are adequately trained to use the inventory software. A clear understanding and proper use will maximize efficiency and minimize errors.

With increased streamlining, your team can invest in more training to improve their art knowledge. Consider signing them up for an MFA degree to expand their understanding of art. Technology and automation enable your staff to shift from clerical to expertise-based work. 

Art Inventory in the Digital Age

The traditionalism of art is starting to mesh with the digital world’s vast modernization. 16% of art and antique sales happened online in 2022, which could likely grow in the coming years.

It’s hard to discount how much digital transformation in art has changed how we buy and sell art. Accordingly, we must start embracing more of these tools, starting with art inventory management software.


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