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Online sales and workflow question


Pinball 6 5 United Kingdom
23 Jul 2008 12:23AM
Hello all,
Although this is my first post, I've been searching and reading these great forums for months now.

I'm planning to start as a sports event photographer, and I'm trying to figure out which direction to go for regarding a website / online-sales.
Ideally I would like to go for an 'all-in' package, including the printing and posting service the likes of theimagefile, smugmug and pro-darkroom offer. This is mainly because of the speed with which the customer will receive the picture and the ease on the workflow. But for various reasons I just don't quite like the look of the websites they produce.

Photium seems to come highly recommended by many of you, and I certainly like the look of many of your websites.
But how do you go about it once you receive payment for an order through your Photium website, or any other website for that matter for which the provider doesn't offer a printing service? Who do you use to get the picture printed? And do you just peel of their label and stick on a new address label with your logo on it and send it on? Workflow seems to be very important in event photography, so any tips and advice will be much appreciated!!

I hope all this makes sense; my brain is a bit numb after a long night searching and re-searching Smile

Thanks,
Peter.

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OMP 6 53 United Kingdom
23 Jul 2008 8:34AM
Hi Peter

I have had a look at Photium. They do tend to lean towards you using your own Papal account which for a 10 product would cost you 54 pence in commission. 3.4% and a 20 pence flat fee.

Also if you looked at photobox they will happily charge a further 1.50 for your postsage costs.

I do run a service myself, not allowed to mention it here. But we offer the whole package, order, print, dispatch costs all within the print price.
agoreira 11 6.0k Wales
23 Jul 2008 8:35AM

Quote:Photium seems to come highly recommended by many of you,


I think that's the one Mike likes! ; )
As regards printing, I like to see every print that comes back before posting it on. I would not like to simply have the printing company send it on to the customer, I like to see it is perfect, and then repost it on. You charge for the postage, so added expense there. It may put a day or so on the waiting time for the customer, but I think it is worth it. Normally if I order from say, Photobox, before 1600, I get the print next day, a quick look, mount if if requested, and post it on. So normally, two, three days at the most.
Set up Paypal on your site, and that will take care of the payment side of things.
agoreira 11 6.0k Wales
23 Jul 2008 8:42AM

Quote:
I do run a service myself, not allowed to mention it here. But we offer the whole package, order, print, dispatch costs all within the print price.



But does the price work out cheaper, with all the expenses included?
Unless it is, there is no advantage. Do you do next day delivery?
What would be the price say, (for comparison) of an A2 print delivered to the door?
OMP 6 53 United Kingdom
23 Jul 2008 9:02AM
Ok here is the comparison with photobox.

For one photograph (8 x6) selling at 11.50
postage 1.50
Paypal 0.60
Print 0.35
Total 2.45

Our print 1.98 no mount and 2.32 with.
This includes free web gallery hosting, all transaction fees, printing on professional paper and postage to the customer next day. As well as a receipt from the photographer.
OMP 6 53 United Kingdom
23 Jul 2008 9:07AM
abwhitt, I would agree with you about getting the photograph from photobox and checking its quality. But your cost have just risen, by a new envelope, postage and administration time. We are a pro lab and take pride in the quality of printing we achieve. The reason we can produce our product at a reasonable cost is the software solutions we have built around our services.
sidaorb 8 3.9k 2 England
23 Jul 2008 9:20AM
I think you seriously need to weigh up the options from a number of suppliers, all of which is dictated by your own customers. Most 'on-line' printers make there money on the postage, and this can be crippling for the odd single photo, however if you have customers ordering multiple prints then the postage cost per print will greatly reduce. I have a local printer I use that will produce either 4 x 12x8s or 5 x 10x8s for 5.00 including free P&P.

I also use Photium and agree Ab's comment that I like to check any photos personally before sending them out. Ok I accept a slight increase in the cost to me, but this is minimal.
agoreira 11 6.0k Wales
23 Jul 2008 9:22AM

Quote:Abwhitt, I would agree with you about getting the photograph from photobox and checking its quality. But your cost have just risen, by a new envelope, postage and administration time.


I'm not a pro, so don't sell in large numbers, so the time factor is not important to me. Nor really the postage, the majority of prints come in tubes, so they are reused, and to use your costings, if I wanted to make 10 profit, I would charge around 12.50 to cover expenses.
But I take your point, for a busy pro, it makes sense to offload some of the time consuming work to someone else.
OMP 6 53 United Kingdom
23 Jul 2008 9:45AM
I agree that is the type of customer we are looking for. Bulk printing is the key. Our galleries are more geared towards sports and balls. Because its a totally free service we would like to think that each galleries launched would generate a lot of orders.

Sidaorb.

Our pricing system works on the discount scheme depending on the quantity ordered. Our price for 5 10 x8 is 6.20. So a little more expensive, however our price includes the web gallery charge and card commission, so it is comparable.
richard00 8 504 1
23 Jul 2008 9:48AM
You can send a photobox order to another address other than your own - once you have used them a few times quality shouldn't be an issue if your pictures are processed correctly.

Customers aren't too bother about turnaround either I find [within a week], if they are in a hurry a digital copy seems to be popular [save a lot of the costs/time on my end too]
OMP 6 53 United Kingdom
23 Jul 2008 9:51AM
I also forgot to mention that our service can allow us to send direct to the photographer if required. I also got my numbers wrong on the 5 10 x8 it is actually 6.24. One thing when you say 5.00 is that for five copies of the same image? Our system works on a per order of multiple images so if you ordered ten 10x 8 the cost would be 10.45
GotYou 6 110
23 Jul 2008 11:08AM
HI,

Your right workflow is key. But look at your workflow backwards. The last thing you do is supply the print. a few things to remember.

1. Use unique image files for every job, so in years to come when you get an a order for Ajex_ponyclub_1234.jpg you can easily find it compared to img_1234.jpg. Best software for renaming files is irfanview (a bit ugly but very powerfull) also worth getting copernic (file searching software, beats anything by windows hands down inc vista searches, wont be with out it now)

2. With regards to your fullilment of orders you have two choice, direct to customer, or via you. I think it is better to go direct to customer, there is a few post earlier about slight increased in costs, as a value that is correct but as a % that is about 10%-15% of your profit, not your turnover, your profit. The down side is you can not check the quality, Photobox will send what ever comes off there machine, i recently sent a low res image for print and it was sent out to the customer. All my customer do recive a QA form after 1 week so I can put anything right.

3. How are you going to sell them online. You can use photobox direct service and a few other but remeber they all want a slice of the action. You will aslo find that they charge VAT at source so again you will loose 17.5% of your profit. Be carefull of companies who say that there is no VAT charged, ask them to see a copy of there VAT ruling on HMCA letter head, otherwise you could will get a HUGE bill in years to come.

The Photobox figure above are incorrect

For one photograph (8 x6) selling at 11.50
postage 1.50
Less VAT @ 17.5% 1.71
Photobox E-com Fee @ 10% 1.50
Print 0.35

Total 5.06

Your profit 6.44

Another option is to use a printing service that offer you free gallery but then charges a very high fee for printing. It is important to look at these figure closely not only when just one print is bought but when 2,3, or 4 are bought and do your own caculations dont rely on theres, the qulaity of the gallery and easy of use is vital for a succeful online gallery.

It very much depends on your intail investement and how much you are looking to spend, if you just want to dip your toe in without spending any money then maybe a free service is for you, but if you are looking at a more of a medium term solution, 3 months +. then look at your own gallery system, do your own e-com through payapal, nochex or google (no set up fees or VAT issues and 2.9% +20p ish costs) do your own fulliflemt (you then only pay 0.35 for every 6x8) you can also add an extra 0.50 to p&p that is also yours.

To find a gallery system just google "event photography software" you find a few

Hope that helps, and good luck

Mark
GotYou 6 110
23 Jul 2008 11:30AM
Hi,

One other thing, I just checked out the Photium cost, 16.80 a month for 2000 images, you could eat that in just one job doing sport events.

Good Luck


Mark
Nickscape 8 696 9 England
23 Jul 2008 12:17PM
With Photoium you will have to organise the printing & delivering of prints yourself, which will take a lot of time if lots of differnet ones are ordered & to make sure they all go to the correct place will be tricky. Photobox pro galleries allow the user to buy direct from the site, obviously they take quite a chunk of the money, but theres no hassle for you.. so depending on the amount of time your willing to do admin work, a product such as photobox may be your best bet.
keith selmes 11 7.1k 1 United Kingdom
23 Jul 2008 12:35PM
Photobox Pro Galleries - is there anything to stop people downloading the image and printing their own or passing on to their buddies ? Or their own website ? I think someone here had a problem with that.

Beyond that doesn't it depend what sort of market you want to be in ?
If you do bulk maybe you have the printer deliver, same as you'd drop ship mp3 players, but its not very personal.

If you want to check the work is just how you want it, sign it, send it out in your chosen packaging with your own cover note, obviously direct ship won't work. And if the price to the customer is higher, so be it.

Probably though, you offer different services to different customers ?

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