The face of business today is changing due to advances in digital technology and the Internet. And because technology is so easily accessible and affordable, we live in a tech-savvy consumer economy. Consumers now have access to equipment, devices and online processes that threaten traditional, brick-and-mortar businesses by allowing shoppers to interact directly with end suppliers. Nowhere is this more precalent than in the professional photography industry.
As photography quickly transitions into a digital market, consumers are able to purchase quality photo equipment and easy-to-use software, allowing them to edit photos from the comfort of their homes and to upload and send files directly to low-end photo labs for digital processing. The evolution of digital photo technology has transformed average consumers into photographers, or so they think. As a result, it would seem that professional photography is on the decline, quality photo development is thrown to the curve for the sake of saving a dollar and high-end photo craftsmanship becomes exhausted. Photographers need innovative and affordable methods to reach their consumers, now more than ever.
If pro photo studios are to survive, they must adapt to their surroundings by embracing the digital revolution. One way to accomplish this is to develop an Internet presence through an online storefront. For example, Apollo Photo Imagizing, a full-service photo lab known for its press-printed and specialized photographic products, is reaching out to professional photographers with a new marketing tool called Photo Boutiques by Apollo.
A Photo Boutique is an e-commerce website branded with a pro studio's name and logo, connecting photographers with their customers on the web – a place where this meeting would not have happened before the digital transition. Combining online proofs and easy-to-use shopping carts, these online galleries allow photographers to sell their professional images with a variety of customizable options – all of which can be viewed from a home computer.
Designed to increase photo orders and streamline client interaction at the click of a mouse, Photo Boutiques can be easily customized with little work or hassle for photographers. Photographers enjoy the flexibility over how to implement their sites into online marketing strategies – Photo Boutiques can stand alone as the studio's official site or function as an extension of the primary website. Studio owners selecting a standard membership can also control their storefronts by selecting the color scheme and site design as well as their across-the-board profit percentage using Apollo's price list. Premier memberships allow more customization such as advanced site design, individual product prices and product selection menu. Photo Boutiques give customers direct access to Apollo's quality, custom photo products designed with the studio's images. Orders go directly to Apollo, where credit card payments are processed and products are printed and shipped under a studio's brand name and logo.
Since the digital takeover that has affected the vast majority of industries, consumers have been exposed to more options and product offerings. Online photo retailers give consumers ways to create customized products such as calendars, greeting cards and memory books. Since customized photo products and gifts are a growing trend in photo consumerism, Photo Boutiques help photographers offer personalization to their clients. For example, wedding portraits can be uploaded to a Photo Boutique serving as a library of images. After a photographer uploads images, a bride can be invited to the Photo Boutique in a variety of ways, including an e-mail with a link to her special collection organized by event / wedding name. She can then share this link with friends and family, so more people will access the online gallery to view images and place orders for personalized photo mementos of the wedding.
The online photo industry is already booming and is expected to grow even more in the coming years as more consumers gain direct access to affordable photo equipment and digital processing online. But Photo Boutiques can help photographers remain competitive by offering consumers easy access to prints and personalized photo items printed with unmatched quality while still keeping the professional involved. Photo Boutiques are ideal marketing ventures for small businesses lacking the resources to create and maintain a sophisticated website, complete with product offerings and order placement. But these online storefronts can also complement the current marketing initiatives already in place at larger photo studios.
Photographers in a down economy can make a splash in the e-commerce pool, as traditional forms of advertising and marketing become fewer and less effective. Having an online presence is important for business survival today. An online presence can take a variety of forms; a Photo Boutique can tie an online storefront and e-marketing plans to a central location for photographer-client interaction. Marketers tend to agree that the Internet is becoming the most common, effective form of advertising. The Internet is here to stay – it's time to embrace the power of the World Wide Web and adapt to the growing demands of a digital-centric economy.