In order for the consumer to work at home, she has to have photo book software to work with and there are two distinct ways for the dealer to get it to her: either by having his own website with downloadable photo book software; or, supplying the customer with software on a CD for her to take home and upload onto her own PC.
Many firms offer systems that enable the retailer for this business model and allows them to offer a product under their own brand name. Lucidiom, for example, expanded its in-store APM kiosk offering when it purchased Photo Finale, a system for a consumer to upload images from home directly to the retail store. By folding its Luci offerings into the software, a consumer can create the book at home, upload to the retailer’s location and pick up the finished product which was produced at the store.
Stephen Giordano, Jr. Lucidiom’s president feels that being able to offer a store brand is important to the retailer. “The retailer’s brand is the one the consumer sees.”
Create Book at Home, Via the Dealer, with Mail Return
In some plans the dealer plays the roll of implementer by supplying the consumer the photo book software either via a download from his website or a CD software package that is distributed free at the store—but does not get involved with the output of the book.
Photogize, a product of Graphx, offers just such a plan with its PhotoCentral program. Joe Kowalik, president, CEO, and co-founder, said that at present about 200 retailers, representing about 800-1,000 stores, currently offer the program. The firm has a turnkey solution to the dealer looking to connect online with his customer and gives the retailer an opportunity for a store-branded product.
Joe feels that there are many consumers who sit down with the idea of making a photo book but give up because the process is too difficult. “Fall-off is an issue,” he said. He acknowledges that while the Photogize software may not be the most elegant to be found, it is among the easiest to use.
Fulfillment of the book is provided by Qoop, Inc., a Mill Valley, CA, firm with the pick-up of the finished photo book either at the retail store or mailed to home.
A rather interesting program in this category is offered by Albumprinter, a company headquartered in the Netherlands. The U.S. licensee, Rieger Communications, Clarksburg, MD, under the brand name of Artography, provides the retailer with a software program for photo books that the dealer can make available on his own website, using his store brand, for a consumer to download or pickup at the store on a CD. The consumer prepares the book at home and uploads the completed project providing a credit card.
Tom Rieger said that each software program is coded to the individual dealer so that when an order is received the dealer’s account is credited with a 25% commission which is paid monthly.
Fulfillment for the books is handled by Lightning Source, LaVergne, TN, which bills itself as “the world’s largest printer of one-off (one at a time) books.” Turn time is said to be three days and delivery can either be back to the store or mailed to the consumer. About 150 dealerships with about 2,500 storefronts, including Brooks-Eckerd-Rite Aid, use the plan, according to Tom.
Tom also mentioned the availability of a pre-paid photo book plan in which the dealer sells a packaged piece of software entitling the consumer to one photo book of given specifications. For example, a buyer of the $11.95 software box would get 15, two-sided pages of 4x6 prints with a soft cover. At the high end, $119.95 buys 20 sheets, two-sides, 12x16-inch hard cover book. Dealer commission: 25%. Sounds like a simple solution for a dealer wanting to offer a photo book without any investment other than a counter display or pegboard hook.
Marc Spira, a former Agfa exec who is now vice president of Business Development for Albumprinter in the U.S., said that they were developing unique software for the Moto Photo chain which will be unveiled within the next month or so.
And, Of Course, the Pure Online Play
All of the usual names in online photo processing, including such popular sites as Shutterfly, Snapfish, Photoworks, Winkflash, Kodak EasyShare Gallery, and not-so-popular ones, blurb.com, heritagemakers.com, lulu.com, momento.com, play in the world of online fulfillment of photo books. There has to be a hundred or more sites that are vying for the consumer looking to have a book made and offering a myriad of choices, designs, covers, features and, of course, price.
The only solace for the retailer in competing with these online folks is that hopefully it will help popularize the whole idea of making a photo book.
As seen, the process of photo book retailing goes down so many roads even Mapquest would be challenged. I was.