The dotcom promoting online arts and crafts sales
By Syed M. Aslam
Sep 24 - 30, 2001
ArtSaga is a business to consumer Internet e-commerce
application designed to allow customers to browse, search and buy arts
and crafts online. It uses a web browser on a global scale and claims to
derive its name from a commitment to tying the common threads of
artistic talents of diverse cultures across the globe.
It is the brainchild of Asim Buksh who strived for a
fulfilling professional experience while exploring the possibilities of
the immense opportunities which cyber market offered. ArtSaga derives
from a commitment to blend the common threads of artistic talent in
diverse cultures across the globe.
Initially, ArtSaga intended to explore the richness
and vibrancy of Eastern artistic tradition. However, it soon realised
that the vision of an artistic era inevitably involves cross-cultural
reference and diversification.
The site offers a range of products — from the
purely bohemian to the politically correct forms of art, many of which
are symbols of various time frames and times. With its focus on the
amalgamation of region-specific art, it strives to explore and connect
the common cultural threads across the world. The vision has its basis
in the conception of an art and cultural village needed to carve out the
pathway to a lasting niche in the global cyberspace market.
ArtSaga offers an eclectic selection of arts and
crafts from various countries. The selection criterion emphasizes art
that embodies both the skill of the artisan as well as the cultural
identity of the society it belongs to. Attention is paid to capture the
artistic thought patterns prevalent in the societies and at rejuvenating
the intricacies of the artistic trends. The collection offers a unique
blend of quintessential art with functional pieces that blur the obvious
distinction between art and reality.
By and large, the arts and crafts offered by ArtSaga
represent the fusion of old techniques and materials with contemporary
craftsmanship. In addition to the specifics of material and form, the
relevant description of the art pieces with relation to period and
origin are also included.
Enjoying strong indigenous links, knowledge of
localized sourcing and global reach ArtSaga strives to offer a unique
value to the consumers of arts and crafts worldwide. Many of its
consumers are based in the US who are looking for better value in terms
of choice, quality and product innovation. However the consumers 'reach'
is often limited in terms of geographical range and the fact that they
lack the local information needed to reach artisans and craftsmen
directly in remote regions. On the other hand, the artisans themselves
have to rely on middlemen to market their products. This is where
ArtSaga comes in to fill this communication gap primarily by removing
these market inefficiencies by linking the artisans directly with the
end consumer in an efficiently cost effective way. It provides a link
between consumer needs and supplier priorities.
The art market
By its very nature the art market irrespective of its
geographical location anywhere in the world caters to consumers which
have varied tastes and preferences. Thus using e-commerce as compared to
the traditional marketing and distribution channels removes the inherent
difficulty to reach this much diversified customer base. In addition,
the fact that value is created by bringing together a buyer with a wide
range of products by artisans in areas where he would not have an access
also goes to explain the reason for the creation of ArtSaga.
ArtSaga researched the consumer behaviour through the
sample offering on internet auction sites thus providing it a cost
effective way of obtaining a valuable market feedback on products to
form the core target group. E-bay has been used as the primary sales
channel as it enjoys the status of an established auction houses and as
in a limited way it offers similar products.
Arts and crafts buyers have two options — the
traditional shopping channels of brick and mortar stores and the
business-to-consumer channel now offered by the web. The first continue
to be restricted due primarily to high costs, limited retail space and
narrow geographic consumer reach. The emergence of web-based arts and
crafts suppliers owe their presence to take advantge of a fragmented
market which is fast as well as cost effective.
ArtSaga is competing in the second market and plans
to distinguish itself by offering value through breadth and depth of
product line, concentrating on art and crafts. ArtSaga is banking not
only on its local presence in a number of developing countries in the
region, indigenous links and established networks with artisans and
communities to have an edge over the competition.
It feels that direct sourcing will help translate
into cost benefits that are passed on to the consumers in the form of
lower prices. In addition, the lower prices coupled with bigger product
range would also offer a hard to match value for the competitors
irrespective of how big or small they may be.