Back in 1998, at which time we had been trading successfully for over twenty years, we were exhibiting at one of our regular venues, the Antiques for Everyone fair at the N.E.C. in Birmingham. Amongst our fellow exhibitors we encountered Antiquenet, an American group, who were there promoting their service which offered an online trading facility via the Internet, something entirely novel at that time that came to us as something of a revelation, a “Eureka” moment one might say. During the fair, we attended their seminars and came away completely convinced that this was, for us at least, the way forward, offering as it did an entrée to what at that time, for a small business such as ourselves, amounted to an otherwise inaccessible worldwide base of potential customers.
Excited at the prospect, we duly signed up with Antiquenet and within a short time, with their support, had set up our first online inventory, quickly followed by our first website. This proved to be such a success that, notwithstanding the inevitable teething problems and occasional setbacks, we persevered and twenty years later are now operating our fifth in series.
During the ensuing years, online trading has of course mushroomed, such that, very few businesses today fail to register an Internet presence. The development of secure online payment gateways such as Stripe and PayPal having taken much, though sadly not all, of the financial risk out of the equation, means that it has become as simple to process an international order as one placed locally. Alongside this, logistics facilities and systems, such as those provided by Royal Mail and it’s peers are today fully up to the task of servicing the requirements of both Buyers and Sellers, taking much of the pain out of what formerly could be a frustrating experience.