Blog / Printing Photobooks? Mobile enabled Web-to-Print is the answer to serve all of your customers

Nidhi Agarwal 862 Views

It’s a common refrain in the digital age, and not just in reference to photography. Print is dead, or at least dying, right? In truth, a certain type of print has certainly declined, but this isn’t a tragedy. Prints used to be the only way we had to view our photos (short of shooting slide film and using a projector). We’d drop our film off at the drugstore and pick it up 24 hours later not because it was a better system, but because it was all we had.

After all, around 1.7 trillion digital photos were taken in 2017, according to estimates by Futuresource. At forecast annual growth of around 9% until 2021, there is enough potential for all kinds of different photo print products. More options and a higher frequency of photo-related services – photos are usually taken using smartphones – are therefore needed to give potential customers a genuine reason to bring their digital images into a physical world.

Photobooks and Printing has a new primary medium – Smartphones

As a society, we now produce more photographs than ever before. On social media like Instagram, lifestyle photos that are taken with a phone camera tend to generate more engagement than before. Many of them are shared on social media, but many more are simply being forgotten. A few good selfies will flash before your eyes as you swipe left or right on them, late some Friday night. Platforms like Instagram Stories, Snapchat and Pinterest also play a role in encouraging people to take more photos for quick updates, and thus, people will rely heavily on their phones to take photos while improving their skills. But hardly any will make the transition into the physical world, bits becoming blots of ink that coalesce into an image on a piece of paper, canvas, wood, or metal — a print.

We may no longer print every photo by default, but this can actually be a good thing for printing. It is now about quality rather than quantity, and the pictures we choose to print deserve the best treatment. Also, these days, the printers providing the photobook printing facility offer their services on subscription basis where the customers receive a photo album with selected mobile photos every month or two. Honestly, there has never been a better time to print than now, thanks to technological advances in both the industries viz. photography and printing. Smartphones are now the primary camera that most consumers use on a daily basis and their rise in popularity is having a significant impact on photo output products such as photo prints, photo books, and photo cards. And, for the printers, it means that you have all the chances to be the best among all your competitors to capitalize on it, increase customer loyalty, traffic and gain competitive advantage.

Crating and Ordering Photobooks through Smartphone

Now a days, the good news for the photo printers is that, thy an now develop and publish their own mobile apps enabling customers to easily create and order simple photo books on mobile devices, according to the new Photo Output App Market study by Suite 48 Analytics. With fewer options and a smaller mobile footprint, the personalized photo book creation process is a breeze, and the best of the apps let customers pull pictures from smart phone and social networks like Facebook and Instagram.

But then such apps come with a few but important limitations too. According to the study, many of these easy apps offer the users, a limited number of templates and book sizes. That’s because they’re designed to print photos from phone camera, Facebook and Instagram, which have historically been at lower resolution than on digital cameras and professional devices. Some apps offer photo books with more features and larger sizes but then using them is too complicated, cumbersome due to small screen size or too expensive.

So, a better alternative is to adopt a web-to-print solution that offers best of both world i.e. desktop interface as well as mobile interface. A web-based photo book creators, like our all-in-one designer photo book solution, offers the printers to leverage all those advantages today. Users can choose out of the three ways to design their photo books. They can either quick edit a ready template with just a few edits and photo uploads, or can choose a ready photo book template and take advantage of a full suite of photo and text editing tools to create a personalized photo book or can even start designing one from the scratch. Another consideration is the capability to start a book or photo project on one device, like a desktop computer, and then continue to make adjustments on a tablet or a smart phone later as our solution is fully mobile responsive and offers consistent user experience across all screen sizes and devices.

Also professional users can us desktop interface to use detailed editing features like image cropping, masking, special effects etc. while novice users can stick to simplified mobile version.

The project can also be shared with others, who can make their own personalized version. This expands the reach of photo projects in a convenient way, since there are no apps to download. Also, say if a user is on an iPhone and wants to share a project with someone who is on Android or even want to edit a few changes through an android phone, this cross -platform solution for making photo books and merchandise still turns out to be very convenient. And you offer these all using one single application with centralized admin panel, saving hassle of managing multiple admin accounts.

Snapfish & Shutterfly

Let us see how these two globally successful online photo product provider differ themselves by creating a value proposition by consistently raising the customer’s expectations and then exceed them through various ways. Snapfish is basically all about value. Unlike many other online services, you can pick your photos up locally and can also share slideshows online. Along with its web platform, the Snapfish app makes it easy to order from a smartphone — and offers 100 free prints for a month per year. You can start multiple projects on the Snapfish website, and get everything printed, from calendars to canvas prints to wall decor and tons of photo gifts, like mugs, notebooks, phone cases, jewellery, and way more. If you’re looking to give your photos away in as many creative ways as possible, then Snapfish is a great option for you. Whereas Shutterfly on the other hand provides high-quality prints at decent prices and it has a massive selection of free photos, a free magnet, and a free set of address labels. It also lets you pull photos from a variety of sites, including your Facebook, Instagram, Google Photo, Flickr and Smugmug accounts. Like Snapfish, Shutterfly has a mobile app. The perk of the Shutterfly app isn’t free prints though — it’s free, unlimited cloud storage for your photos. If you’re looking for wedding invites, birthday cards, Christmas cards, birth announcements, or really a photo card for any occasion, Shutterfly has you all covered.

So, the takeaway here is the word ‘Convenience’ – simple ordering procedure is the key service feature when seeking access to print products, especially where more complex print products are involved – and it’s no different as far as online photo print is concerned. The photo merchandise segment in particular is benefitting from this trend, and according to Futuresource it has grown annually by between 7% and 8% since 2015 and will grow equally fast until 2021, until it reaches a volume of more than 350 million Euros just in Germany alone (incidentally a lucrative business, which even Amazon does not seem to be ignoring). In the case of photo-books, smart access in particular as well as larger formats and more exclusive materials will determine segment growth, and that is likely to be around 3 % per annum until 2021.

In the End

To sum it all up, being able to get photos printed directly from social media channels is too common and also the social media images are not of rich quality, now the trend is shifting towards the printing of the high resolution camera images – that is part of the recent future. IBISWorld identifies 250 Key Success Factors for a business out of which the most important for the Online Photo Printing Industry is ability to quickly adopt new technology. So, gear yourself up to take the advantages of all the technology advancement related to the print industry and provide your customers the best solution that caters their need. To provide the added value, if a print provider reaches out to potential customers in the right places, then what could be more lucrative.

At Design’N’Buy, we have always focused on providing the best user experience on any device, taking into account the importance of cross-platform project portability. With that, we never fail to strengthen the print service providers and hence our photo album maker software provides a smooth and instant way to produce photobooks and other popular gift products which are not only fun and easy but convenient too. To know more about the solution you can straightaway reach us at inquiry@designnbuy.com.


CEO and Co-founder at Design'n'Buy.

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