Lapada Conference
Rebecca Davies, LAPADA CEO and Chaim Bacon, founder of principal conference sponsor Antiquity Software, whose presentation at the LAPADA Conference was titled ‘Streamlining the Online Process’. Photo by Charlie Kaufman of Fresh Academy

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This theme pervaded the 8th annual LAPADA Conference in London last week and provided a day-long portfolio of practical advice for dealers.

The 120-strong audience heard from retail expert Karl McKeever, managing director of Visual Thinking, who gave insights into the techniques big retailers use to show off their wares and explained how the same approach could be adopted by smaller businesses.

“Take 50% away and make the rest work harder. Less is more,” he advised, showing photos of minimalist store displays that attracted the eye and presented the goods simply, smartly and relevantly for each brand and its target audience.

He also emphasised the importance of the full shopping experience, engaging the senses with music and  aroma.

None of this requires capital expenditure and has proven to boost retail sales. McKeever showed how his recommendations had worked for a small pet store he had helped while working for a TV show.

Could they work for art and antiques?

Software solutions

Dealers were also encouraged to streamline their office processes through better use of technology.

A demonstration of bespoke business management software provided by Antiquity showed how one product could provide, among other things, customer relationship management, invoicing, stock tracking and website updating.

The software will soon interface directly with the Lapada website too, so that dealers can update their own site and their presence on the Lapada site with one click.

With the afternoon sessions providing tips on social media, taking photographs and more, the conference offered plenty of ways for attendees to modernise and simplify their work.

Now it is over to them to put it into action.

LAPADA Conference: ATG comment

‘Threat level remains severe’ blurted out the security screens in the House of Lords, the venue for the conference.

Though the message was intended to convey the current likelihood of a terrorist attack in the UK, it could apply equally to the situation faced by art and antiques dealers who do not move with

the times.

LAPADA’s event – for which ATG was media sponsor – focused on equipping dealers with practical solutions to take their businesses forward rather than on providing a forum for pontificating on the issues of the day (the two chambers next to the conference room do plenty of that already).

Tickets sold out almost as soon as they went on sale and with a bigger venue, the conference could grow. Next year it may also help if all presenters rein in their sales pitches.

In the meantime, give the lunchtime chef at the House of Lords a medal. Anyone who can deliver 120 perfect cheese soufflés when the agenda is running 30 minutes behind schedule is a hero.