COMMENT: High-Street Strategies in Galleries and Museums

In times of adversity, funding cuts and tightly squeezed budgets, commerciality and sustainability are becoming words that many arts organisations are having to embrace within their organisation’s strategy.  For many, this is a hard path to tread as many curators and operation managers can feel that commercialisation of their organisation’s collection can undermine the fundamental reasons for which they preserve and present their collection.

These beliefs can dramatically inhibit the progress of such organisation’s retail operations and perhaps it is how the products can enhance the visitors experience and prolong their enjoyment following a visit as the need to engage and excite customers emotionally is a critical part of the buying process.

Taking all of these issues into account, in an article for Arts Professional, Corin Birchall shares his advice on what museums and galleries can learn from high street retail strategies to improve their commercial offer.

Below are some particularly relevant points from Birchall’s article:

“As high-street retailers grapple with the implications of ever-changing shopping habits, many have shifted their emphasis towards the customer experience … For museums and art galleries this may result in more thematic approaches to display. For example, products displayed in crates surrounded by packing materials to create the feeling of discovering priceless artefacts in the institution’s storage or archives.”

“Addressing buying pain is an important issue for the arts and culture sector. Buying pain is an inhibiting behaviour in which shoppers spend more cautiously due to a perception that a store doesn’t represent great value … It would be reasonable to assume that most customers would perceive art gallery shops to be expensive, compared to high street and supermarket retailers. In some instances this may be true but often it isn’t. Reducing buying pain and the perceived risk can be as simple as strategically placing a number of great special offers, price promises or examples of prices that beat the high street.”

“As retail stores will think very carefully about the layout of their fixtures and utilise ‘hotspots’ (areas with the most traffic and visibility), the arts can do the same. Ensure that the first hotspot features seasonal and topical products. This can link to an exhibit or show or reflect the time of year.”

“Regardless of size or budget, retail spaces can play a greater role in sustainability. Best practice surrounds us in many stores on the high street and online, so don’t be afraid to innovate and test new ideas or approaches. The retail landscape is transforming before our eyes and the arts and culture sector can trailblaze rather than play catch-up.”

To read the full article originally published on Arts Professional, Click Here.

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