The new portal, which retains the association's existing lapada.org web address, will be unveiled in mid-October.
LAPADA's current site is powered by a third party, Online Galleries, which charges dealers to list stock. The new site will be managed by the association, offering dealers the option to promote their brand and stock for a £50 monthly fee, plus VAT.
It is LAPADA's most ambitious digital move under its chief executive of 17 months, Rebecca Davies.
"The new site is all about putting LAPADA in the background and the dealer front and centre," Davies said.
"This site will give our dealers more visibility, promoting them as experts in their field and as members of a reputable association."
The site, which is not transactional but can be adapted to become so, will feature individual pages for dealers that link back to their own websites and social media presence.
Davies said a subscription model would produce revenue for the association to market the site. "We believe we can provide a quality site for a much-reduced cost [than a third party can]," she added.
LAPADA will promote the portal through an advertising and PR campaign.
Q&A on the new LAPADA website with the chief executive, Rebecca Davies (pictured).
ATG: What is the key difference between the old and new LAPADA site?
RD: Unlike the current site, the new portal focuses on providing a marketplace for dealers, managed independently by LAPADA and effectively providing members with their own microsites.
Information about the association is still there, but is not as prominent.
The focus will be on the dealer's personal brand, with as much background information about the dealer, their shop, logo and so on, as possible.
When you're looking at an object, you'll see a picture of the dealer selling that item and a button to contact them directly.
Users can highlight objects as 'for sale' or 'sold' and categorise them according to their title, material, style, period - information that will function as tags to help search engine optimisation.
ATG: And prices too?
RD: We'll encourage dealers to include prices. We've researched consumer behaviour on websites like this and the majority skip over objects that aren't priced. Even buyers with considerable resources want transparency.
ATG: How will you drive traffic to the site?
RD: We have a multipronged approach involving not just optimising the site for search, but a campaign to promote it to buyers with print and digital advertising and PR. We'll target existing collectors but also nurture new audiences.
ATG: How will you help dealers who have no digital presence?
RD: Dealers will have a login to do their own updating and manage their stock independently, but we will put dealers in contact with people who can help.
For founder members, as part of their subscription package, we will do data entry for 50 items to give them a head start. And from there the back end is simple to do.
ATG: How will you ensure dealers keep their pages up to date?
RD: We are currently drafting rules for the site, which don't differ much from our Code of Practice, for instance around the description of objects.
If the trade or public had a complaint about a member, they would talk to us and go through our conciliation procedure. The same applies to the website as well. We'll encourage taking good photography, categorising things succinctly and responding quickly to enquiries.
ATG: Why not make the site transactional from launch?
With constraints on budget and time, this isn't realistic in the first phase. Members fed back that they were not interested in a transactional site to start with, as they prefer having a one-to-one client relationships with clients.