An online transport company in France, Convelio, founded in September 2017, has received €1.85million in funding to aid its quest to become the ‘Amazon of the art world’.
The company, founded by Edouard Gouin and Clément Ouizille, specialises in the shipping of art and designer objects worldwide. It provides its online customers with instant quotes; what it calls ‘optimized’ costs, considering variables such as location, available routings, volumetric weight and customs management; delivery anywhere in the world; and promises a quality-controlled service throughout the supply chain.
During 2018 the company handled 1600 consignments to destinations worldwide. The new funding has come from Global Founders Capital (GFC) and other supporters. “This fundraising allows us to consolidate many of the operational and technological points necessary to accomplish our mission,” said Edouard Gouin. “All the investments made thanks to this round will allow the complete development of the Convelio platform to offer simple and affordable logistics capable of offering instant estimates.” Despite the new investment, Edouard and Clément still own a majority of the shares in the company.
Edouard said that the discovery of artworks, particularly thanks to e-commerce, is becoming easier but the process of transporting them is “opaque and complicated”. He believes that estimates from existing suppliers are “incredibly expensive” and can typically take 48 hours to obtain. “That's what we want to change, not only by expanding our services, but more importantly by developing solutions that facilitate a click-and-buy experience like the one you can see on Amazon.”
Customers access Convelio’s service through its website www.convemio.com. There, customers simply add origin and destination addresses, item value, dimensions, quantity and weight, and state whether packing is required. This is enough information for the site to provide an accurate quotation.
In an interview with The Mover, Edouard explained that they cost the packing assuming that every item is delicate and will, therefore, be packed appropriately. “We know roughly how much it will cost to pack so we can quote a price and make a little more on some and less on others depending on what is required. We want to make it as easy as booking a train ticket.”
Convelio uses a network of contactors across Europe, 17 in all, to handle pick up and initial packing and has nine crating centres. Edouard says he is very careful when choosing contractors. “We spend time with the company to judge the quality of their service,” he explained. “We sit with them in the van for a day or two to see how they work. Once we are confident in their abilities, we give them easy work and call the client to see how it went. Only when they have proved the quality of their work do we give them more delicate items to handle.”
Edouard claims he can provide prices for fine art shipping that are 30% to 50% lower than the traditional fine art shippers. “Our aim is to try to grow our business while keeping the quality the same,” he said. “We are developing new routes from the United States because many of our big clients are in New York. We are also pushing technology to make sure we can provide a better service online.”
So, will Convelio disrupt the fine art shipping market in the same way as Amazon has the retain industry? Or will it go the way of companies who in the recent past tried to do the same in the household goods business? Time will tell.