Are you looking for ways to expand your printing business? Why not offer customisable photo products that customers will love? Here are 4 easy steps to get you setup!
For printing businesses, having a wider range of products can boost your appeal and give your customers more ways to express themselves. A fast way to expand your product range is to start selling personalized products like photobooks, custom calendars or wall art on the Internet.
So, why should you start now? Despite what you may think, photo products have been growing in popularity for a number of years. There were over 25 million photobooks sold in Western Europe in 2016. In Germany, the sales volume of photobooks grew from 4 million in 2008 up to 9 million in 2016, according to Statista.com.
In Germany, the sales volume of photobooks grew from 4 million in 2008 up to 9 million in 2016
The appeal of these custom products is growing and, with developments in the online printing industry, you don’t require extensive resources to enter this market. Nowadays, you can have an online presence within a few weeks.
Online photo products are a great way to compliment your existing products and satisfy an ever-growing need within the customer audience. In addition to providing additional opportunities for existing customers, you can attract new people, looking for items specifically designed for them.
Last but not least, allowing users to design and order their product online is a huge money saver. Everything is fully automated – your clients select a product, pick a template, do the design, confirm and pay online, with the request going directly to your printer, formatted correctly and ready to print.
In fact, as we’ll explain, you can effortlessly set this up in 4 quick steps. Online printing saves on money, space and makes it even easier for customers. After a quick test to ensure everything works, you’ll be ready to launch your latest expansion!
Step 1: Choose The Right Products
Before you begin, you need to choose what you want to sell. So, which products should you aim to include?
The top three groups of photo products to consider:
3. Canvases and photo gadgets
As already mentioned, photobooks are immensely popular. According to the associate director of InfoTrends’ Consumer Imaging Group, David Haueter, these items alone are expecting to sell over 53 million annual units in the United States by 2019. It’s easy to see why: they can be used to memorialise the likes of weddings, holidays, birthdays and special occasions.
Photobooks are immensely popular (…), these items alone are expecting to sell over 53 million annual units
Calendars, likewise, are very popular due to their practical use, but you should remember that such products are only needed once a year, selling the most between December and January. Haueter also suggests that calendars’ sales are levelling out so, while they’re not increasing like photobooks, they can still become a reliable part of your product portfolio.
Canvas prints are also quite popular and far less seasonal than calendars.
Photo gadgets, such as shirts, cups and mouse-mats, can be cheap to produce and are highly sought after in many areas. There are a large number of businesses out there who want such personalised products to give away to staff, customers and prospective clients.
Step 2: Acquire The Technology
In order to start your photo product business online you need three things:
1. E-Commerce Store
An e-commerce store to let your clients find you, browse your products and make the payment.
2. Online Editor
An online editor to allow your customers to create their own products.
Infrastructure to host the website, templates and your clients’ design.
It can be argued there’s no other way to sell photo products than an e-commerce store. It’s an increasingly preferred method of purchasing customized products. In 2014, 93.9% of custom photobooks were ordered online – a trend that is seemingly growing each year. In an ecommerce store, your customers can select a product and start work customising it, in addition to being able to make the payment.
In 2014, 93.9% of custom photobooks were ordered online
An online editor is a core feature behind every online photo product business. It allows your customers to upload their images, make changes and see what the final product will look like before it gets sent to print. It is essential to have a beautiful, modern editor that is pleasant to use and look at. Creating an editor from scratch with your own IT team, or using freelance developers, could be very time-consuming as these tools are very complex.
This may sound like a lot of work, so let the industry take care of this for you. There are some great editors out there and you can readily find one at the right cost or plan for you. The choice is very wide – from companies, like Printbox, offering all-in-one solutions including store, online editor and infrastructure, to DIY plugins for the most popular e-commerce platforms, such as Magento or Presta.
Step 3. Set Up Your Photo Product Business
This step sounds like a lot of work, but it’s much less daunting than you might think. Once you’ve found the right vendor, you can be printing and selling in as little as 2 weeks.
Communication is key here and you should work with a company that maintains regular contact, as they’ll essentially act as your company’s IT team and internal support.
At this step, it’s crucial to test the entire process a few times. You want to ensure the entire process is smooth and, better yet, enjoyable for your customers. Does the editor work well? Is it fun to use? You need to ensure customers don’t get bored or frustrated and, even after they’ve decided on their creation, that the final product matches their expectations. Create your own photobook, as well as any other products you wish to sell, so you know exactly what you’re selling.
Communication is key here and you should work with a company that maintains regular contact, as they’ll essentially act as your company’s IT team
Step 4: Promote Your Business
Now, it’s time to get the word out. Promote your new online business via:
1. Posters in your store
2. Emailing your customer base
3. Social Media
4. Search Engines
First of all, you should inform your existing customer base. If you have a physical store, put up some posters, but also e-mail people and highlight the ease of your online site.
For new customers, you should consider utilising social media, both through regular posting and through sponsored advertising, such as Facebook Ads. You should try a simple campaign in Google Adwords targeting potential customers in your area.
We will cover how to do the marketing for an online photo product business soon!
Don’t expect miraculous results overnight. It should take almost a whole year to truly assess the value of your range. As stated earlier, some products, such as calendars, have specific peak times, while Christmas itself is often a busy period for all custom products.
Because of this, it’s best to get your range set-up by the summer, as this will give you time to test the range, adjust as necessary and start your marketing efforts to gain exposure in time.