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October 5, 2019

 Managing your collections online. What is the best option for you?

One aspect of Intercollector is that we offer free collection management software to our users. This is not a blog post about how great our collection management software is so I hope you will read on. There are not very many collection management options out there. I will touch on the various options later. We began to develop our software with one mission – to make collecting even more fun and to foster a person’s love for collecting the items that are of interest to them. Whether they are valuable in a monetary sense or not, we wanted to give people the ability to grow their collections and share them with other people who share their passion. Our software can accommodate any collectible and people are free to use it as they choose. We do check for inappropriate collections – you know what I mean. If it is offensive or illegal, we will remove it of course.  Otherwise it is a tool for all.  Is this going to revolutionise collecting as we know it? Hmm, not sure.  Offering this service has been attempted in the past by other collectibles websites and it has not really developed into anything meaningful.  So, is this because the concept is flawed or because their approach was?
There have been collection management tools that are IT based for the last 25 years or so. The big auction houses and museums did the first work on developing databases that would accommodate their needs. I worked for auctioneers in the 90s and I also worked for a corporate art consultancy in New York that had developed its own IT. This was especially interesting because we handled the very large collections of clients like Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch and Banco Santander. They had huge blue-chip collections and it was our job to source new works and to move the art from office to office depending on their requirements. They had a very good system that tracked the location and value of each collection using an MS DOS database system. This was just at the dawn of the Internet and I remember we had a dial up connection (I miss that sound!). Their IT was crucial to their business because it was a tool that other consultancies did not have.

What is out there now are collecting apps like iCollect Everything and iCollect Collection Organiser. These are free to download and in the case of iCollect Everything if you upgrade it costs $10 to get the better version. I downloaded iCollect Everything and can see that you can upload your items and then export the data to spreadsheets which is useful. From my point of view working on a phone or tablet format isn’t ideal – I would need to work on a PC or laptop so this isn’t for me. The functionality seems to be up to standard. So if you are OK working on a small screen then this might be for you.

"Will collection management software add value to collectibles marketplaces and will they become a staple that is widely utilized? This is for the collectors to decide!"

​​​​​​​The next category of system would be the institutional systems that offer a cloud based comprehensive database system that is very well presented and is being continually improved. This is represented by Art Galleria and Collectrium. Collectrium offers payment systems in addition to collection management so you can run your business using this system. These systems are excellent and high-level collectors and institutions would definitely benefit from using them. The only downside with these systems is the financial commitment. With a hefty price tag of $90 per month for private individuals to an eye watering $400 per month for institutions, these systems are not practical for the everyday collector. This is the pricing for Collectrium as shown on their website.

Finally, there are marketplace websites that have collection management capabilities that are free to their users similar to Intercollector.  I am not going to discuss the individual systems here as I am not trying to tear down other great companies.  These systems have not added much value to these companies, so the question is why? I think that individual collectors have been slow on the uptake of internet-based systems for organising their collections because collectors like working with tangible things.  I can identify with this myself in fact.  Intercollector is in the rare position of being able to tailor our system to suit our users' needs. We have launched version 1.0 but this software will be responding to user requirements going forward. Hopefully using this Agile** method of programming will allow us to identify the functions that our users want and implement them in stages so eventually we will have a system that people will really use and enjoy. 

So the question has yet to be answered: Will collection management software add value to collectibles marketplaces and will they become a staple that is widely utilized? This is for the collectors to decide!

** AGILE PROGRAMMING: This method is based on a collaborative model which advocates adaptive planning, evolutionary development, speedy delivery, and continuous improvement.  This programming style is superior as it allows for the continuous testing of the code during the development process.