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Syncrony’s Latitudes a cyber work of art for exhibitors

Digital software specialist demonstrates the fine art of digital e-commerce for Latitudes Online

Africa-focused online art website Latitudes Online has over the past year-and-a-half secured a firm foothold in the online art space. Now, thanks to the expertise of Syncrony Digital, Latitudes has successfully entered the world of online art sales and auctions. 

Syncrony describes the new website as a one-of-a-kind evolution of the standard Magento 2 platform designed to provide art-centric product visualisations and enable online art sales. 

‘Selling art online is hard,’ says Howard Rybko, CEO of Syncrony Digital. ‘Shipping is the major headache because artworks vary so widely in dimensions and weight and ideally the artworks need to be packed professionally to ensure safe delivery. Latitudes mention a US-based customer who purchased a $500 artwork that arrived in the US with a $4000 shipping charge tacked on!’

Another Latitudes business principle is to provide artists with a secure platform to upload their art and increase the exposure of their works. This proved to be a lot more difficult than at first glance. 

“First Magento has a plethora of product settings, most of which have no relevance to artworks. Second, the best way to deliver this kind of functionality was by leveraging a B2B extension, which turned out to be much harder than we expected.” 

“The technical requirements were absolutely horrendous… for example, if you look at any page, like the home page for example, it shows various artworks and, not surprisingly for this type of business, visual strength of the website is paramount.”

“All the images on display differ in size, because they are uploaded by artists, who may or may not know how to adjust them to suit the website’s size requirements. We had to make sure that we introduced the capability to enable anyone to be able to load images and automatically adjust to the set size,” says Rybko.

The mismatch in image sizes impacts the user experience he adds. “To address the haphazard layout and distorted end result, we wrote the functionality that processed the images to all be displayed at the same size and proportions, irrespective of what is uploaded by artists.”

Syncrony worked with the owners of Latitudes to update pricing, to adjust the business model to function as an exclusively online offering. 

“It’s been wonderful working with Howard and his team, as they’re not only experts in the tech space, but they also seem to be genuinely invested in our business,” says Latitudes co-founder Roberta Coci. 

Co-founder Lucy MacGarry adds, “Howard is always available to chat through problems and ideas, and is constantly coming up with ideas of his own to enhance the platform’s profitability.”

Rybko says that it took two months just to build the functionality, specifically addressing issues with image cropping and upload time.

“The problem is that it is that with a Magento site, an artwork has many attributes that are important… aspects such as edition size, medium, price and artist must all be featured prominently, clearly and accurately. We had to build and produce codes that would generate standard SKUs so that these elements would be standardised. Ultimately, this meant building a new product upload screen.”

The complexity and level of architecture built into this site makes it unique. It is a powerful testament to Syncrony’s understanding of the market and technical expertise based on solutions that make a critical difference to business operating in the knowledge economy.