Fotomerchant 2 – A summary of what’s new and what’s missing

When the team at Fotomerchant sat down 12 months ago to start talking about Fotomerchant 2 we opened our email clients and notebooks and dusted off many a support ticket in preparation of a massive information gathering session. The goal of this meeting was have a think about what a Fotomerchant 2 would look like. We wanted to build a platform that would allow us to develop and release new functionality rapidly so that we could provide the best possible application for our photographers.

For me, as the “Engineering Czar” and one of the founders, it was really important that we build a product that we could improve upon on a fortnightly basis. As many of you are aware it has sometimes taken us months to release new functionality. Believe it or not, we’ve hated this probably more than you! Thankfully, what we’ve built is highly flexible from a “code” perspective. I’m enormously proud of what the development team has built and it was an invigorating 10 months working and developing with them. We solved some massive problems and have some exciting plans for the near future (I’m not allowed to talk about them just yet).

I won’t blabber on about this any further. Anyone at Fotomerchant HQ will tell you that I could bore a brown dog to tears yapping on about ones and zeros. So, without further ado, here is some of the enhancements and new functionality you will find right now in Fotomerchant 2.

What’s new

Blogging

The beginnings of a photography centric blogging platform has been built. It’s intentionally VERY basic initially because we want to understand how you guys and girls are going to use it before adding more advanced functionality to it. Currently you can do the following:

* Give your post a title
* Write a post
* Set a custom permalink (url) for each post, or let our system generate one from the title
* Choose a “hero” image for the post
* Set an automatic publish date and time so that you can queue blog posts for automatic publishing or publish immediately
* Set custom meta data for Search Engine Optimisation purposes (SEO)
* Your customers can add the “hero” image to their favourites or shopping cart
* Your customers can share your blog posts on their social networks

Some more advanced features such as comments and RSS feeds have not been implemented at this stage. Feel free to let us know if these things or anything else is important to you. That’s what helps us understand what our photographers need!

Feature Sets and Pricing Models are gone!

That’s right folks. You heard me correctly. We have completely obliterated the Feature Set / Pricing Model functionality from Fotomerchant 1 and replaced them with what we call “Catalogs”. Catalogs are just that. A catalog where you define the products you are selling and their retail prices all in the one place.

The “Products” that are available to be placed in Catalogs can be either self fulfilment, direct fulfilment or digital products. We also have not populated accounts with all the available direct fulfilment products from our partner labs. You are responsible for picking and choosing what you want to deal with so that you’re not constantly searching through lists of 500 or more direct fulfillment products to find what you want.

Checkout

The checkout process your customers go through when they purchase from your website has been completely re-done and streamlined. For instance: paid digital only orders are a simple 2 step process for your customers whilst free digital orders are a simple 1 step process. More complex orders are never more than 3 steps to payment. However no matter which way you look at it there are less steps for your customers than there were in PhotoMerchant 1 and also a lot less form fields for them to fill in.

Image protection

Now applied throughout your entire website. This includes previews, thumbnails and even Sliders!

Search

Your customers can now add photos to their cart directly from the search results page on your Fotomerchant website.

Drag and drop

Photographers can now drag and drop photos and galleries in order to organise them. This has been one of the most frequently requested features over the past 2 or so years. Additionally, photographers using modern browsers can simply drag photos from their computer straight in to a gallery to start uploading :)

Keyboard shortcuts

This one is more for advanced users and one that I wrote myself. After spending day after day in Fotomerchant 2 to determine what it was like for a photographer to organise and manage a lot of galleries and photos, the most frustrating thing for me was that I had to do a lot of clicking to do simple things like add tags to photos, preview photos, delete photos, hide galleries, etc. So I bit the bullet and wrote a little module that allows photographers to hit keys on their keyboards to perform common tasks (delete, preview, add tags, remove tags, etc). After adding these 4 or 5 keyboard shortcuts I was able to do what I wanted to do a lot faster!

Faster uploads

(when using IE10+ Firefox, Chrome or Safari 6+). Try it yourself to see how fast it really is!

Pinterest site verification

For those of you who have Pinterest Business set up, you can now verify your site with Pinterest. Additionally visitors to your website can now pin photos to their own Pinterest boards (if you turn it on).

Customer favourites

This one has been one of the most frequently requested features. It is now possible to view the favourite images your customers have added to their accounts on your website!

Watermarking

Previously a single watermark was created for photos and digital download products. Now you can create as many Watermarks as you want, each with their own opacity and width settings and then pick and choose how you want to use them.

Contacts (previously Customers)

Customer (now Contact) section has been slightly enhanced. This is part of a bigger plan which I’m not going to talk about here :)

Order management

We’ve completely re-worked how photographers manage their orders in their account. We’re by no means finished with this however. There’s a lot more to come.

Digital download processing

Much much faster digital download processing – they even keep their original filenames (with resolution added).

Admin interface

The admin interface has been completely re-designed from the ground up. It’s simpler, cleaner.

API

An API is in the works and will be used to power a number of external applications and projects in the future. It’s not quite ready for prime time but when it is, external developers will be able to create websites and apps that are powered by Fotomerchant 2.

Templating platform

The beginnings of a templating platform which will allow us to to FINALLY offer more templates for your websites. We have a grander plan here which will be the subject of a future post. Web developers stay tuned ¶ :)

Plans and pricing

We’ve added yearly plans as a payment option for photographers who want to save money and are happy to pay once a year.

Dave

Our beloved Dave found himself a girlfriend. She’s quite shy, but if you’re really lucky she may appear to say hello :)

What’s still missing

A few months back we were reviewing the progress of development for Fotomerchant 2 and determined that we needed to find a way to launch the new version as soon as we could without sacrificing quality.

As previously mentioned, Fotomerchant 2 has a lot of new functionality that has been built in to it. However, a few months back we could see that there were a number of pieces of functionality that existed in version 1 that were going to take a little bit of time to finish and most importantly test. We decided that we would aim to launch the product even though there was some functionality missing.

So, below is a list of features that are currently not available yet. However, a large number of these features are either almost complete or complete but untested. As such we will be releasing them as they come out of testing over the next few weeks.

If you see anything on the list below that you really want to see put in Fotomerchant 2 please let us know! Our estimations as to what is important to you all might sometimes be incorrect and the only way we’ll know is if we can gauge how many people need these features.

Packages (Now available in Fotomerchant 2)

We know this is a popular feature that a lot of our photographers use. We have modified the shopping cart system completely and regrettably had to pull packages from initial launch at the last minute. It is mostly finished from a development perspective but is completely untested so we are holding off until it is tested.

Direct fulfilment USA (Now available in Fotomerchant 2)

USA accounts don’t have it yet. The development is complete we just need to do some final testing with Burrell Imaging (our US direct fulfilment lab).

Exposure gallery template (Now available in Fotomerchant 2)

Development almost complete – a few bugs with IE 10 exist and there are some performance enhancements we need to add.

Lightroom uploader (Now available in Fotomerchant 2)

We need to modify the Lightroom plugin so that it works with the new version. Nearly complete.

Cash on Delivery payment methods

We weren’t too sure about this one. Not too many of our photographers use this feature so it was a lower priority. We are however still going to be implementing it because it fits in to our grander plans *wink *wink.

Image Comments (Under review)

We have no plans for re-implementing in-house image commenting functionality for images in galleries. The amount of spam that gets posted on images (even with a tonne of spam protection at our end) is astronomical! We are considering using a 3rd party commenting service such as Disqus at a later date for comments. However, where image comments was once used for customer to photographer communication about photo shoots and orders, photographers can now see their customer’s favourites in the admin interface to avoid the need for this.

Bulk image editing (Now available in Fotomerchant 2)

This will hopefully be less necessary in the new system. However, we know that it is important to many photographers and it will be coming.

Order tools (Now available in Fotomerchant 2)

Some rarely used tools such as the self fulfilment cut list generator and order exporting tools are not available yet. They are definitely coming though.

Internet Explorer 8 support

Unfortunately we had to drop support for internet explorer 8 when using the admin interface. Some of you might know how much developers despise Internet Explorer purely because it is a nightmare to develop for. We have kept support for Internet Explorer 9 but if you are using it then you won’t have access to the new drag and drop uploader which is faster than the popup uploader. This functionality is simply not supported by IE9 and unfortunately there was nothing we could do about it.

We highly recommend using Google Chrome due to its fast speed and high quality. However, recent version of Firefox and Safari will also work just fine.

Final words

Over the coming weeks and months we will be releasing frequent updates to Fotomerchant 2. These updates will include enhancements to existing functionality as well as features that were available in PhotoMerchant 1. We’ll also be updating the blog and our facebook page much more frequently with constant news about the progress of all things development.

As always we would appreciate your feedback so feel free to leave a comment, jump on our Facebook page or tweet us @photomerchant.

Written by

Derek is Engineering Czar and Co-founder of Fotomerchant. He once picked up a camera and started shooting but everyone screamed so he stopped.

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  • Michael Bailey

    Hey Guys, looking forward to the changes. A couple of questions:

    1. How easily will we be able to migrate our sites to the new engine? I don’t have a huge catalog, so will I be better off starting from scratch?
    2. Have you made it easier to make free image downloads available? The current engine requires registration, which makes it more trouble than it is worth but I would like to offer free downloads for desktop wallpaper phone wallpaper and Facebook cover images without having to jump the customer through a lot of hoops.

    • photomerchant

      Hey Michael!
      1) The new engine is much easier to use, especially when it comes to setting up your catalog. I would suggest have a play with V2 and setup a catalog with a Gallery to get it right, then it will be easy to apply to any other Gallery. If you want us to migrate all your photos, orders and customers you will have to wait a couple more weeks before we can automate it for you. If you want to get cracking and start again, you can just rebuild from scratch in V2 (we’ll extend your trial for as long as you need)
      2) Offering digital downloads (for free) is much easier now and the check out it way, way simpler – almost a two step process. Give it a try and see! no more postall address or other superflous information required. Just a name and an email address.

      • Michael Bailey

        Thanks for the reply. I’ll get a trial going and start uploading – it will be a good chance to thin out the catalog and bring it up to date as well as get a head start on the free downloads. I take it when the time comes you will move my domain over to the V2 site?

  • Belle

    This is great guys, thank you so much. I am very happy to see the pricing models have gone because that was so confusing! As for the rest of it, awesome work. Thank you.

    Final question… how do we get it?

  • Jodie

    Does this mean our web addresses will change? I just had a heap of business cards made up :(

    • derekclapham

      Jodie,

      If you would like to keep your .photomerchant.net address that’s fine, we’ll just need you to give us a heads up if you’re going to be following the self migration route so that when you’re ready to make the switch we can point the old photomerchant.net web address to your new fotomerchant.com web address.

      Clear as mud? ;-)

      • Jodie

        Is it possible to do the automatic migration when it becomes avail and still keep the photomerchant address? The reason I ask is that the migration will be very time consuming and I am on Satellite internet due to my location – this means that I am also limited in data allowance per month

  • Michele Jackson

    Will the photographer be able to post direct to their Facebook BUSINESS page?

    • photomerchant

      Absolutely! You will be able to publish to any Facebook pages you have connected to your account.

  • marty

    go Dave! score

  • Warwick

    Are future updates and changes going to make us go through the whole rebuild process again?

    • photomerchant

      No sirree!! This will be the last time you will have to transfer your old site across to the new system. We’ve rebuilt the entire application from scratch so that it is much easier for us to develop new features while reducing the impact on you and your website.

      You’re welcome to wait a little longer for our migration tools to be available if you do not want to manually move everything across yourself.

    • linda

      will we have the ability for our blog followers to add comments?

      • photomerchant

        hopefully, though we don’t have a timeline on this at the moment. We’re looking at a broader commenting solution that can be applied across the site including comments per image and blog posts.

  • linda

    Hi,

    Just a few questions. Will the blog have the ability to use html to build? i want to incorporate video from youtube and vimeo. I want to use website links as well, is this something you area going to include? I like the blog idea, I am just a bit concerned that it is a little too limited.

    • photomerchant

      Hi Linda, there should be the option to have HTML and links included in your blog posts. For some reason it fell out during one of our releases and I expect it to return soon. That will mean you can insert images (from your galleries), sliders, assets and embeddable HTML widgets such as Vimeo & YouTube. The blogging functionality has lots of room for expansion – we just want to see how people are using it and would like to use it before we flesh it out further.

  • Odille Esmonde-Morgan

    This is the first I’ve heard of the new platform! I had the most awful palaver trying to get my domain name pointed at my Photomerchant account. In the end I had to turn it over to your support guys (who were great) and the hosters, and pay you each a feee. Do you mean to tell me I will have to do it all AGAIN!? Not happy.

    • photomerchant

      Hi Odille. I’m sorry to hear about your domain woes – they’re easily the most difficult thing when dealing with the Internet. Even we have problems with domain stuff and we live & breathe this stuff. Now that you’ve done it once, it should be very easy to do it again – we certainly wont charge you to help get you across the line.

      We’ve been working on this new system for the past 12 months and have attempted to keep everyone up to date on our progress via our facebook, twitter, forum and email broadcasts, but it appears not everyone has received the message. The new system is faster, easier and more powerful and there are lots of benefits to moving across. We realise that there may be some hiccups in moving to the new system, but they far outweigh the benefits of the new system.

      We will be putting up a blog post that explains the difference between the two systems soon.

      You don’t have to make a decision now – eventually we will automatically move everyone across, but for those who do want to start using the new system, they can start to migrate now.

      Our goal is to make this as painless for you as possible Odille.

  • Karen

    how do you remove the “add to favorites”button? I’m in the U.S. and we don’t spell it the same way, and doens’t look like there is an option to adjust the spelling.

    • Karen

      *is not

    • photomerchant

      Hi Karen. The ability to rename and remove the favourites button “to favorites” is still in development and we hope to have it updated soon.

  • June

    Hi, A review of several photo sites complained that fotomerchant still did not have compatibility with smaller platforms such as iphone and ipad, and that the viewer had to scroll around to see the image. In today’s world, this is a deal buster. Does your new version have auto flexibility to auto size to the smaller screens? thanks

    • photomerchant

      Hi June. Our websites have always worked on mobile devices but have not been optimised, requiring the scrolling method you have mentioned. The websites are yet to be optimised but we are looking to roll out changes in the future. We know how important mobile functionality is in today’s age and hope to have a solution to announce in the future. Sorry.

  • danny izzo

    When we migrate over will the new system bill us for lab fees and subscription fees, etc. the same as before? It has been a major headache having to call the bank and OK charges nearly every time an order is placed.

    • Steve

      Sorry Danny, thought I’d mentioned this in one of your earlier tickets. The billing structure / schedule is the same, however we have a US merchant account now setup and attached to the new Fotomerchant system. So once you migrate this security headache with the banks will be a thing of the past as the billing will appear to come from within the US! =)

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  • Mike W

    Again, I am submitting a formal complaint on http://MelissaWilliamsBrown.com (54.215.0.71 hosted at AWS) but a Fotomerchant client named Melissa Williams-Brown MelissaW1970@gmail.com IG: @Melissabrowninoz

    RELATED FILES: https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=1v54ZlhqgVX_BDbl4htUqtJ_wNipPIAma
    Here are screenshots, a zip file with the HTML of of the SIX versions of the “About Melissa” section [http://melissawilliamsbrown.com/aboutmbwb9] in past month. She identifies me by my first, middle, and last name. With statements that I am a convicted drug dealer, drug addict, mentally ill — among other things. Is this how I photography merchant website should be used?

    Also, I’ve attached TIME STAMPED change logs which captured the abusive activity.

    The website changes the URL many times and modifies the text. In doing so they are putting more content for Google to crawl. Lately, when people search for my name on Google they find several pages of this malicious content coming up.

    Fotomerchant provides the shopping cart for melissawilliamsbrown.com and are listed as registrant for the this website. I have complained over 8 times to Fotomerchant over past year and got no response. Even though the website has blatantly, repeatedly violated Fotomerchant’s “terms of service” listed in section 7.1 [https://www.fotomerchant.com/about/terms/#7]. I am escalating this to Amazon Web Services (where you purchase server space) since Fotomerchant has done nothing. This hateful content is against Amazon’s terms of service as well and this email is being sent to them also.

    This has been an ongoing, recurring problem for over a year now. I would like an update on what is going to be done as soon as possible.

    Michael Eric Williams
    301 Demonbreun St
    Nashville, TN 37201
    +1.615.200.2668
    michael.eric.williams@outlook.com

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/14d9345aaad53886e3cf71213406bcc17d494cf1a4ee591de4531413018904ea.png https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/88f64b0df58c66b1fcb20d54ba38ab5c0a3ac9b00c3a3b2c7d6976b59b67c153.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/f7fcc9d473f32e504922bb31f80cb6f027bea668f01118ab691162db74903c14.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/9f6ea40c75d86e2fc9a57ecf30b0a0c3046b66660c46a1752b33134ec2de5037.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/dc65acfa9e6027879f77197b5e5a9e390dc3e44c7103a48899b453352bf949e2.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/d6caacf25106a6e87441cb5852a22b0931de33acf6730b2aba584e79310d8770.jpg