We have had our website up for a number of years and it has worked out well. Of course like any other business you have to work at it. The old "if you build they will come", doesn't work.
You have to get out a market your site through links, blogs, forums, places like Google Shopping and others. You also need to write up decent titles and content on your merchandise. Make yourself search engine friendly etc.
Bottom line is you need to work to succeed, just like any other business. Also it takes time, so don't give up.
See ya, Country Joe
Hi, Ginny! I'm a very new member, and want to echo the sentiments of previous posters - the website is only the beginning! Then comes the marketing and trying to get traffic to the site. It takes a lot of work.
I think it's a great idea for most businesses to at least have an informational website, a sort of combination calling card and brochure where people can go and get an introduction to you. But when it comes to actual selling, it may make sense for smaller outfits to use one of the e-commerce sites that offer storefronts to individual sellers. That way you can take advantage of the traffic that's already coming to those sites, although you'll still have to promote your storefront actively. For antiques, some good ones are rubylane.com, cyberattic.com and goantiques.com.
For the past few years I've been using a site called ecrater.com, definitely not fine antiques oriented, but it does have a fair amount of vintage stuff. It is completely free to use (no listing or final value fees!), and has the great advantage that all products listed are submitted to Google Product Search. It is also optimized for indexing by the major search engines. Even so, it takes a lot of work to promote a store, but at least there's that little extra head start.
The listing process and account management are very easy. I have a constantly changing inventory of vintage collectibles including vintage ads and vintage postcards, and I am able to change my product categories readily as required. For example, right now I have categories for vintage liquor ads, vintage car ads, vintage ship ads, vintage railroad ads, vintage consumer ads, etc. . . . But a year ago I needed categories like vintage costume jewelry vs. handcrafted jewelry. I appreciate the ease of being readily able to change my store configuration in a minute. Great flexibility!
There are also drawbacks: I don't like the lack of design options (like only one style and size of typeface - far too small in my opinion). But "FREE" makes up for a lot of drawbacks!
Hope this is helpful!