Automating fulfillment for unique items – why we invested in ARTA
Most of us are used to the simplicity and convenience of online shopping. You choose what you want to buy, add it to your cart, select your shipping speed, enter your payment details and hit “purchase”. That’s it. Not so, however, if the item you are buying is art or another high value, highly variable item like jewelry or antique furniture. The problem isn’t really to get people to buy expensive pieces, the real issue is in trying to get them from the seller to the buyer, especially when shipped internationally. There are a lot of little items that need to be taken into consideration, such as packing, transportation, insurance, temperature, customs clearance and more. Until recently there was a huge disconnect between the sellers or auctions houses and the special art shippers, who would understand the importance of transporting such items, but would do business the old way – by telephone – and assessing quotes could take in some cases longer than a week. Invariably, this caused frustration for the buyers and, in the extreme cases, caused the transaction to fall through when shipping quotes came in much higher than expected.
Seeing there was an area of opportunity to increase customer satisfaction in the post-sale experience of high value goods and collectibles is why Adam Fields, founder of ARTA, started his company. It didn’t hurt that Adam came from the industry, having previously been at Artspace, where he experienced these challenges first hand. ARTA is a platform that pairs fulfillment technology with end-to-end global services. It is designed to help merchants, marketplaces, and auction houses accelerate sales by automating everything from shipping to tracking and insurance. Thanks to ARTA’s platform and real-time,API-first architecture, their customers have managed to automate quoting, booking,, logistics, notifications, and fulfillment—a nuanced and complex endeavor for high-value goods and collectibles – and reduce customer complaints, frustrations and cancellations. The company already counts major auction houses, marketplaces and other sellers as customers and has generated strong growth with good unit economics and low cash burn.
At AVP, we believe that the art and collectible shipping market is massive and rapidly growing, on the back of rapidly growing art sales (~$65 billion in 2021 alone). We think that as more transactions move from offline to online and customers start to expect the same level of service that they receive for commodity shipments, there is going to be an increasing need for the solutions that ARTA provides. ARTA’s global platform already services 65 countries and, we feel, there is a tremendous opportunity to further expand into new categories of goods and new geographies. Beyond Adam, we are extremely impressed with the rest of the team at ARTA who blend backgrounds in art and technology, product design, customer service and sales. We are also thrilled with the knowledge of other investors around the table particularly in areas like logistics and shipping and are confident that ARTA will add to AVP’s growing portfolio of successful logistics and supply chain focused investments which include Tive, SendCloud and Contguard among others.
We feel very honored to have led this Series A round and to support ARTA in their journey.