Founded in 1976, Printed Matter is the world’s leading non-profit organization dedicated to the dissemination, understanding and appreciation of artists’ books and related publications. The store was first established in Tribeca by Sol Lewitt and Lucy Lippard, among other important artists and art-workers. Today it has two locations, in Chelsea and on St. Marks.
Our work included a new website desktop and mobile website, based on our content management system, Economy. It quickly produced repeated 30% year-over-year increases in online sales, faster increases than in-store sales for the first time.
Printed Matter’s director, Max Schumann, says the system’s flexibility “allows us to test out different strategies, both in content as well as how, where, and when it is placed, in order to determine the best ways to communicate with our audience and enhance e-commerce.”
Inspired by the crowded tables of books in Printed Matter’s physical store, tables are the most novel feature of the site. They let Printed Matter staff, publishers, and users all create and share visual curations of products. Next to the “Add to cart” button on every product page is a similar but different “Add to table” button. Adding a product to a table begins a collection. This can be something practical like a wishlist, or, the collection can be used to support an accompanying essay, for example.
Editing a table is easy and fun. A draggable interface for positioning products and a scale object and color selector make this possible.
Printed Matter’s online catalog is easily searchable and navigable. We wanted the website to act as a powerful tool. So now you can find what you were looking for if you were even looking for something in the first place; but like the store, you can also discover new books, artists, and publishers through surrounding content.
Each item is identifiable through a thumbnail and helpful metadata. Colored badges help further sort and identify items of interest.
On the site, there are 14,000 products for sale and a research archive of another 23,000. To see products that are out of stock and switch into archive mode, a “Wayback” checkbox can be activated.
The checkout process is easy and streamlined. It integrates fully with the store’s current inventory. Users can create an account or check out as a guest.
The website is tightly integrated with a sophisticated multi-channel commercial inventory management and purchasing system. In addition to best-of-breed checkout on desktop and mobile, the website’s systems are also integrated with commercial point-of-sale registers at the store – Printed Matter’s first digital cash registers – as well as mobile point-of-sale at book fairs.
About half of Printed Matter’s books are sold on consignment, so our systems also facilitate payments to about 6,000 artists each year – an important marketplace for makers as well as buyers.