Post image for Xanadu Gallery’s Artist Resource Store on Square Marketplace

Xanadu Gallery’s Artist Resource Store on Square Marketplace

by Jason Horejs on December 13, 2013 · 21 comments

We’ve just set up a Square Marketplace Store – Check it out at https://squareup.com/market/xanadu-gallery.

I’ve written two books that help artists approach the art business in a more professional way. Both of the books have been best-sellers in Amazon.com’s Business of Art category. I’ve been selling the books online since I wrote them. And yet, I’ve never had a real online store where the books could be purchased directly from me – just landing pages on my site for each of the books.

The landing pages have been fine, but if you don’t know how to get to the landing page, you would have no idea how to access the books. There are obvious advantages to having a store where the books, along with other books I feel are great resources for artists can be easily found.

So why has it taken me so long to create a web store? The main reason is that I’ve had many other projects on my plate with the gallery, publishing reddotblog.com, and with ARTsala.com, that have taken precedence. Another reason, however, is that it’s actually a fair amount of work to set up an online store, especially if you are only selling a few items.

Over the years, I’ve tried several different approaches. I’ve purchased WordPress e-commerce plugins and set up various pages and begun the process of setting up a store. Unfortunately, I was never really happy with the difficulty of setting up the store, or the functionality and the design of the pages the plugin generated.

PayPal – Necessary Evil

PayPalOn our landing pages we use PayPal to allow artists to order the books. I also use PayPal to process art sales from our website, and we’ve run a tremendous amount of business through the service. PayPal has become the de facto payment processor for the internet, but it leaves a lot to be desired.

First, I find PayPal’s over-all design dated. From their shopping cart pages to their control panel, the whole design feels like it came from the last decade – which it did. The internet has become a lot simpler, cleaner, and more appealing over the last 10 years, and PayPal hasn’t kept up. Even recent re-designs were pretty shallow and mostly superficial.

Second, PayPal makes it too complicated for buyers to complete their purchase. PayPal has great motivation to prod everyone who is buying from you to create a PayPal account – they make more money from users who are members. I understand the motivation, but, unfortunately, this gets in the way of a smooth transaction. If you are selling something online, you want a buyer to click a buy button, go to the shopping cart, enter their credit card information and complete the sale. With PayPal, buyers are immediately hit up to login or create an account. These are distractions, and, as we all know, if a potential buyer is distracted, they may not complete the purchase.

Third, PayPal’s reporting tools are abysmal. My bookkeeper is in the worst mood every time she has to deal with our sales through PayPal. We can never seem to get the PayPal account to balance the way it should.

Fourth, a lot of people have had negative experiences with PayPal and simply refuse to use the service. I’ve actually always been pretty happy with PayPal’s customer service and have never had huge problems (other than a few temporary freezes on my account for really asinine reasons). I seem to be the exception, rather than the rule. I hear horror stories all the time of people who feel they’ve literally been defrauded by PayPal. Whether they have been cheated or not, perception is everything.

On the positive side, PayPal makes it easy to create “Buy Now” buttons, and integration to websites is fairly simple.

A Burgeoning Competitor: Square

SquareReaderSeveral years ago, Jack Dorsey, a co-founder of Twitter, created a new payment processing company called Square (www.squareup.com). Square was going after a different market than PayPal; they were initially more interested in processing payments in the real world. It wasn’t long before their white credit card readers that plug in to smartphones, were showing up all over the retail world (and all over art festivals and open studio tours). The Square reader allowed mere mortals to process credit card transactions on a mobile device in a simple way. Finally, the masses could accept credit card payments without having to create a merchant account or go through a credit check.

We started using Square at Xanadu for remote sales (though I still have a traditional merchant account for processing sales in the gallery) and I quickly became a huge fan. No more phoning in credit card numbers or hauling out the knuckle-buster. In the information age, it just seems right that we can get instant approval for the purchase. Even better, Square has always been good about depositing the funds on the next business day – faster than my merchant service provider.

Recently, Square announced Marketplace, a site where Square users could create an online store in a few simple steps. On a whim, I decided to put my books in the store to see how it works. The setup was incredibly simple – I had the store ready to go in just a few minutes. More importantly though, the purchase process is clean, modern and elegant, and Square has done a good job of staying out of the way.

There are a lot of limitations (it may be a while before I would convert to selling the thousands of works of art we have on our website through Square), but I can see some real potential for using Square Marketplace for selling individual items — in an email campaign, for instance — instead of using PayPal.

I don’t imagine the Marketplace itself is going to drive sales the way Amazon.com does. I would expect most sales would come from people you have personally sent to the store.

Check Out our Square Store

STSsquareMarketIf you want to see how a Square store works, check out our page at https://squareup.com/market/xanadu-gallery. (Of course, to get a real sense of how cool the process is, you should order one of the books in the store!) The store has only been up for a short time, but I’ve already had great feedback about the interface and design.

Look for us to be experimenting with offering other items, especially art, through the store in the coming weeks. I’ll report on how it goes.

For information on setting up your own store, go to https://squareup.com/sell-online.

How Are You Selling Online?

What e-commerce service are you using to sell online? What have your experiences been with PayPal? What do you think of our simple Square store? If you’ve used Square Marketplace, how has your experience been? I’d love to hear how you’ve faced the challenge of selling online? Please leave a comment below!

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About 

Jason Horejs is the Owner of Xanadu Gallery, author of best selling books "Starving" to Successful & How to Sell Art , publisher of reddotblog.com, and founder of ARTsala. Jason has helped thousands of artists prepare themselves to more effectively market their work, build relationships with galleries and collectors, and turn their artistic passion into a viable business.

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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Barbara Carter December 13, 2013 at 5:56 pm

I agree with everything you say here about Paypal. It’s annoying and clunky and probably scares off some buyers, but for a long time it was the only game in town. I used Paypal “buy” buttons on my website, but I always hated having to disable them all (manually!) whenever I did an art festival (to avoid the possibility, however remote, of someone buying a painting online that had sold at the festival). I didn’t like having to guess at the shipping cost either. Always was way off.

Since I’m already using Square to take credit cards, it looks like I should check out the Square Marketplace. Maybe it could be set up to “know” a painting is sold and mark it “sold out.” That would be very useful.

How do you handle the shipping cost?

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Jason Horejs December 13, 2013 at 6:38 pm

Square does track your inventory and so if you sell something at a show using your square reader it will mark it sold on your website. You enter the shopping amount when inputting the item.

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Nancy December 14, 2013 at 4:45 pm

I am wondering what music you play in your gallery and what you recommend. I am part of a Co-op Gallery and there is so e discrepancy on this subject. Not huge but it would be nice to have your feedback on this.
Thanks so much.
Merry Christmas!

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Jeni Gray December 14, 2013 at 5:42 pm

Congrats Jason! The site / store looks great!!! :)

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Dori December 14, 2013 at 6:29 pm

Hi Jason – welcome to Square Marketplace – I love it. But the biggest downfall for artists is the “square” limitation for images. If you ever find a way around that, please share!

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Will Eskridge December 15, 2013 at 3:04 pm

Ah, just came across this as well while setting up my shop. I sent their support team a question regarding this. I’ll post back when I hear something.

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Muffy December 14, 2013 at 6:30 pm

I am using PayPal on this site right now, and want to set up a better looking and better running site-Haven’t done it because it is all hooked to PayPal. I have used Square often , so I will look at Marketplace. Couldn’t hurt. I need something easy to work on

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Eva S. Nichols December 14, 2013 at 11:12 pm

Hi Jason,
I’m excited to read about your new Marketplace – I already use Square for art shows, etc. and love it. I do have some of the Paypal buttons on my gallery shop page on my website, but I found it so cumbersome that I never really finished that page the way I wanted it. I am definitely going to take a look at Square’s Marketplace.
I am following your mentorship and trying to implement all the things I’m learning to get sales to grow by using the many e-marketing tools efficiently, and in general work smarter, since 168 hours a week is all we get according to you and Barney!
Thanks for all your great posts!
Eva

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Sharon Sieben December 14, 2013 at 11:28 pm

I use paypal and have good experience with the service and process. I also use “square reader ” to process credit card sales.

I will be very interested to learn more about the marketplace function. This does sound like an efficient sales tool. Thanks, Jason!

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Lane Watson December 15, 2013 at 6:04 am

I spent a few minutes on your Square site.

I agree, the interface is much more user friendly than PayPal. However, I did run upon one process that would bother me as a merchant: when I removed the only item in my cart, the site reverted to a generic screen prompting me to browse other merchant’s items. Xanadu disappeared completely!

That said, I’d probably still consider the merchant service should the need arise.

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Will Eskridge December 15, 2013 at 8:01 am

Excellent post, Jason. I’ve been using square at festivals ever since they first came out. I absolutely love it. I currently have an e-commerce plug-in on my wordpress powered website. For payment is uses Paypal. I agree with your sentiment about the difficulty of setting up and lack of design of the finished page. (I do love wordpress in general for my website, though)

Although I’ve been using square for a while now, I haven’t gotten around to setting up a marketplace through them just yet. However, reading your post and seeing your marketplace page has easily given me the kick in the butt to drop the wordpress e-commerce plugin asap. Thank you!

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Nina Baldwin December 15, 2013 at 1:14 pm

Jason, I enjoyed reading about the Square Marketplace webpage you have put up. It looks great!

I recently sold a large giclee off of my blog to a client who lives back East. I have no paypal buttons on my blog…just didn’t know if Google would allow me to add them. So when the purchaser wrote to ask how to pay, I suggested she use paypal…they allow money transfers with just an email url now. This seemed like an easy solution to me at the time, but I believe that the client had to set up an account to follow thru on the purchase, something I am not sure she appreciated.

Of course, I, as the seller, became concerned when I realized this, and wished there had been a more direct way for her to purchase…which is why I am setting up a Square Marketplace webpage now as well…just started the process last night… and it does seem to be quite simple, something this very low-tech internet user appreciates! They are sending me a “square” gratis for use with my tablet.

I have a new wordpress site going up…it’s a work-in-progress, but the Square Marketplace webpage makes sense for something that I can get up quickly and without a lot of effort…thanks for the info about Square Marketplace!

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sharon sieben December 15, 2013 at 5:49 pm

I think this is going to be great. I have a really cumbersome shopping cart now that I would love to dump. This may be the answer. https://squareup.com/market/SSieben-studio

Is there a way to track activity on this site via statcounter or google?’

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Michael Molick December 16, 2013 at 5:47 am

Hi, Jason–I’m going to go back and check out Square Market but wanted to comment on PayPal. I’ve had PayPal for a while and don’t remember how difficult it was to set up. When I use it’s Virtual Terminal to sell my art, it’s been straight-forward and easy. Plus, it sends a receipt to me, too. I can print out the form once the sale is typed. I have Square, too, but I don’t know if I have the control to key in the exact item and any other info I want to know about that particular sale. Mike

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Mary-Gail King December 16, 2013 at 10:44 am

Thanks for this and all of the art marketing articles you publish on your blog. I’ve had great success as I’ve turned to the internet to broaden my art market.

Making the sale easy for clients is critical. Nothing should stand in the way when a collector is ready to make an investment in your art and good service is key. When you or they have to think too hard about how to pay, that’s where the focus goes. They are excited about getting their piece and need to be able to focus on that and the good feelings it elicits. The bottom line is that they come back when the process and the art make them feel good.

Keep the information coming!

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Will Eskridge December 17, 2013 at 12:19 pm

FYI – Regarding the square dimensions of the images:
They responded to my email and said that dimensions outside of the square format (i.e. horizontal or vertical) are not currently available. The support person said they are constantly working to improve and would document the feature request with the appropriate team.

I’ll probably just bite the bullet for a handful of items and convert the images to square format with gray or black bars on either side. I think the overall ease of use and sleekness of the Square Marketplace otherwise outweighs what I’ve hacked together with plug-ins and Paypal buttons.

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sharon sieben December 17, 2013 at 7:10 pm

if you convert the images to square format using “white” it looks pretty good.

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Christine Goldbeck December 29, 2013 at 4:56 pm

Hi:

Like you, I use Paypal and recently started converting to Square Marketplace. I like it much more, but I fear replacing paypal altogether, especially for my daily series of work, which are small, affordable pieces that I often sell through paypal’s “buy now” button.

Also like you, I tried multiple times to do e-commerce through wordpress solutions. I never completed the job, though.

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Anne Bevan December 30, 2013 at 11:18 pm

very interesting post, Jason,
I cannot get this link to connect – https://squareup.com/market/xanadu-gallery
I’ll check back again later.

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Mary Gilkerson January 2, 2014 at 7:25 am

Interesting comparison between the two options! Thanks, Jason. I’m going to go take a look at the Square Marketplace.

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Alex January 2, 2014 at 1:28 pm

I love how you said that PayPal is a necessary evil. Evil indeed! I tried to make an account there and was immediately screwed for not responding to their bank deposit in time. My account immediately went into lockdown mode and I was asked to send them all sorts of information. Haven’t gone back since. Maybe someday I will, but that was annoying as hell.

Here’s to Etsy, until then!

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