November 15th, 2012 - 11:30 PM
Sean Broihier: I'm the only programmer, and built the entire business. The only people full time on Fine Art America are myself and two women who do customer service and tech support for me via phone and email. That's three of us full time on the payroll. In addition, we outsource the actual production of prints to companies around the U.S. For example, we have a company in North Carolina that does framed prints and stretch canvasas for us, and in Atlanta we have greeting cards, and a company in Hawthorne which is doing our acrylic prints. I worked for ten years as an engineer, and my job was factory automation, which is designing automated machinery to assembly cars, food, beverages, packaging, pharmaceutical packaging, and so on. I am obsessed with automation. I built this business to be fully automated. I built the website, so that it's all do-it-yourself. Artists can control all the content, set the prices, and it's all fully automated with no need for a staff to interact with. The whole order process is fully automated. We process credit cards or PayPal, and instantly transmit orders to fulfillment centers around the U.S. Their staff takes care of the order, and it ships in two or three days, and it's all fully integrated back into our system which ships, tracks the information, and sends out an email confirmation to the buyer that their order has shipped, and so on and so on.
Everything in a transaction, from start to finish, is fully automated. Thirty days later, the payment is all fully automated to the artists. Half of our artists receive their payments via PayPal, and at a click of the button on my end, thousands and thousands of PayPal payments are sent out. The other half is paid via business check, and we mail them out using a checkwriting service, where with a click of a button we send out thousands of checks. The whole thing, start to finish, is fully automated. The beautiful part of that it allows us to do X dollars of sales currently, and we could ramp to 20X tomorrow and we wouldn't have to bring anyone else onto staff. Our fulfillment can handle any volume sent through them.