We like to consider PhotoShelter as a hub of a photographer’s post capture workflow. That means once you upload your images to your archive, you have the ability to do many different things with those image like putting them into galleries, posts them on social networking sites, etc. Of course, one of the main activities is the sale of photos, and prints sales seem to be as robust as ever.
We’ve been hearing for some time that our customers wanted more fully-automated printing/shipping options. As we surveyed how other services were integrating their print providers, we noticed that a lot of companies were forming exclusive relationships. We didn’t like that because it assumed that the photo service knew what was best for the photographer. Instead, we decided to create a more flexible solution whereby we could integrate several print vendors, and the photographer could choose which company they wanted fulfilling their products. Then we went a step further, and decided that a photographer might like the 8×10’s from one print vendor, and the mugs from another print vendor.
So we’re pleased to announce the integration of two new printing partners: AdoramaPIX and ExposureManager. There are a ton of print vendors out there, but a few things impressed us about these companies and made the decision a no-brainer.
1) Print quality. Both companies have top quality equipment and paper, but more important is that they have humans reviewing the prints as they go to press. This was imperative to ensuring a pro-quality print. And both companies provide color correction options that you can turn on with a simple checkbox. This is a great option for photographers who don’t want to color profile every single image for a different output device. If you haven’t seen prints from these companies, I think you’ll be very impressed.
2) Good people. Donovan Janus from ExposureManager came to meet us in our offices earlier this year to talk about how we might partner together. I was really impressed by his dedication to building an infrastructure that would ensure the highest quality prints. In EM’s early days, they actually used third parties to fulfill their printing, but finally decided that the only way to satisfy their high threshold of quality, they’d have to build it themselves. So Donovan did just that in California.
We’ve known Ingrid Spangler for several years through our association with Adorama. They co-sponsored some of our free research reports, and I still buy a bunch of photo gear from Jeff Snyder, one of the best sales guys in the business. Back during the PhotoShelter Collection days, Adorama Pix made a number of large prints for various events that we held, and we were always very impressed at how good the images looked. Adorama is located just a few blocks from us, which makes it really easy to maintain a great working relationship (and spend all our money on new gear).
3) Entrepreneurial Spirit. It’s hard to explain how important this, but I don’t really need to explain it to you, because you likely a sole proprietor or small business owner who understands the challenges of trying to do something yourself without the backing of some mega corporation. Entrepreneurs make things, they solve problems, they care about their customers greatly. We wanted to make sure that if a problem arose throughout the printing process that we could pick up the phone and talk to our partners and get “no bull” solutions.
Now for the nitty gritty.
The print pricing profile interface has been modified to accommodate multiple vendors. The top portion of the form is unchanged. You can create internal and public descriptions for the profile, pick your crop preferences, and choose whether you want to review orders before they are fulfilled (this is a great option for high volume event shooters who only upload low-res images).
In the print vendor section, you have the ability to expand or collapse each vendors prints and products. We display the item and its wholesale cost to you. If you want to offer that particular item, enter a price.
If you offer different products from different vendors, the system will automatically collect the multiple shipping fees necessary to ship from different locations. You can, in theory, offer the same item/size from two vendors, but I’d advise against it. I think having two 4×6 options is probably confusing to your customers.
ExposureManager and Adorama PIX offer two vendor-specific options: 1) back printing, and 2) color correction. The back printing gives you a limited number of characters that will be printed on the back of each image. For example, you could put your URL, your name, or your copyright notice.
The color correction will take some of the uncertainty out of the printing process. If you’re really sharp with color profiling, then you’ll probably download their respective ICC profiles. But if you’re lazy like me, and aren’t selling art quality images, then the color correction is a very expeditious way to handle print orders. If you enable color correction for ExposureManager, then an operator will manually color correct the image for you….how’s that for service?
The Exposure Manager integration is live now. The Adorama PIX integration is in final testing, and we’re hoping for it to go live next week.
We have a lot more documentation on how the process works from end-to-end and how you can replace files, adjust crops, etc. Just check out all our online documentation.
Now that we’ve rebuilt our e-commerce system from the ground up, it will be much easier to add additional vendors when we feel its necessary. In the meantime, enjoy the new features!