B2C photo products are a great new revenue stream for B2B print houses

May 12, 2020
B2C photo products are a great new revenue stream for B2B print houses

If you are a B2B printing house owner looking to diversify your business, personalized photo products should be at the top of your list of new potential sources of revenue. We organized an online event with one objective in mind: introducing you to the photo product market and helping you realize that it is full of opportunities. If you missed out on the event or prefer reading to watching, all the most important insights are included in this summary.

Why now?

Because of all the canceled B2B activities and the unknown date of a proper return to normal, many print houses were hit by drops in revenue. It’s very difficult to predict what implications the current situation will have for the B2B market.

But changes in B2C customer behavior can already be observed: customers moved online. They have more time on their hands and they are more concentrated on their emotions, and this is what photo product business is all about: reliving memories, creating feelings, enjoying a beautiful product at home. You could argue that this is a temporary situation: people are locked down and bored, so they buy nice things to lighten themselves up a bit. But the high season for photo products starts in November, so now it’s the perfect time to explore the market and get ready.

Even if you have vast B2B experience, venturing into B2C territory is not to be taken lightly. That’s why at first photo products might just be your backup revenue stream. Many of our customers followed a similar path: from photo products as their additional source of revenue to the point where they’re concentrating only on them.


Understand the market

The photo products market can be divided into segments based on different criteria.

Let’s consider popularity first, you can find three subsegments here:

  • very popular (photobooks, calendars, prints)
  • growing (wall art, gifts)
  • niche (cookbooks, notebooks, playing cards)

As far as seasons and occasions go, there are five main categories:

  • Christmas gifts – photobooks, calendars, gifts, cards
  • birthday presents – photobooks, cards, gifts
  • special occasions (weddings) – albums, wall art
  • kids & parenting sector – photobooks, albums
  • holiday memories – prints, photobooks

Here are some important numbers to reflect on: the photo products market (according to global-print.org) is currently worth $17,9 billion, and that’s 2,20% of the global printing industry market value ($812 billion).


What to consider before the start?

Before you set up your online store, external and internal business conditions have got to be given attention to.

External conditions are related predominantly with your local market scope. Three main aspects should be subject to examination here: country’s population, local competition, and market potential (if details regarding your local market are of interest to you, contact us, we’ll share our knowledge with you)

The internal factors are company-based. Marketing activities need to be reorganized because of the contrast between reaching out to B2B and B2C customers. This calls for new expertise and possibly adding new people to the team. The team itself is very important, because many areas, like customer support, are different from what a B2B printing house is used to. Poor quality photo products or late delivery may cause a storm in social media and harm the brand’s reputation. Great technology is very important because an easy-to-use but complex platform offering various customer journeys increases conversion rates and provides loads of fun for customers. And, of course, all those changes won’t happen without money.

When it comes to production capabilities, you need to adapt your workflow to new circumstances. The number of B2C customers is significantly higher than in the B2B market. The high number of orders is to be expected, but this won’t be reflected in production quantity. This is a long-term investment that requires patience.


How to design a perfect solution?

So the decision has been made, you are entering the photo product market.

Usually, marketing is the place to start. It is recommended to set up a new brand because a B2C brand has a different feel to it, and if you fail, your core B2B brand remains intact. Who is my customer and what I am selling – the targeting part has to be done right. And then there’s a strategy, for example regarding pricing. From our experience – price isn’t the dealbreaker – customers put so much creativity and emotion into their beloved product that the price becomes secondary (obviously, within reasonable limits, because when they start shopping for the best provider, they usually compare prices). It is worth remembering that, in simple terms, you are setting up a very specific online store and you have to promote your products – you either need to hire a B2C digital marketer or a digital marketing agency.

You probably need to reshape your customer support policy. Most photo products are created in the late afternoon, in the evening or at night. Reports are stating that many people buy things online while being at work, this is a different situation, though, creating a photo product is more engaging and happens in free time. It is advised to introduce late afternoon/evening shifts.

Production/delivery is another key factor. If you are experienced with Web2Print, it shouldn’t be an issue. But if you aren’t, there’s work that needs to be done. Special workflow for short-run jobs must be created. Automation is of utmost importance, even if you are selling just a couple of books a day at the start because you’ve got to be ready for growth and the peak season. There is no time for manual administration of delivery as well, customers are not happy to wait for something so personal as a photo product. You should consider outsourcing delivery processes if you think that you are not an expert in the field.

The perfect solution has one more important ingredient: great photo products software.


Seven tips for finding the right photo products platform

  • user-friendliness is crucial
  • don’t forget about a smooth and flexible customer journey
  • if possible, get ready-to-use designs
  • think on how to organize the back office
  • check configuration possibilities
  • think ahead with your hosting & scalability
  • don’t forget about your mobile users

Enjoy setting up your photo products online store!

A photo is worth a thousand words - they say. Mateusz puts together thousands of words to make photo products even more awesome. An avid reader, always ready to talk about obscure music. A huge fan of grass court tennis.