Calling all Alpha Testers
For the last few weeks, I’ve been giving you some tips on how to get your photography business running in the online world. We’ve covered things like workflow, sales and online websites. But now I want to go one step further than just tips, and give you a sneak peek at the application we’ve been working on. PhotoMerchant is not just a blog – we’ve also been working on developing an application that will enable photographers to upload their photographs to the web, show them to customers, and sell online – all in one application. We think our product will revolutionize the way photographers do business online.
I am pleased to announce that in a few days, PhotoMerchant will be entering the alpha 1 phase of its development. This is a very exciting time for us as we have been working on PhotoMerchant for quite some time now and the alpha stage is where we will put its functionality, stability and usability to the test.
PhotoMerchant is primarily aimed at photographers who want to sell their photos online. It allows photographers to upload and manage their photos with the end goal of selling them online to either their existing customers, new customers or the world at large.
If you’re interested in using the “pre release” version of PhotoMerchant and helping us to put it through it’s paces… email us at email@example.com. If you help us test out our new web application you’ll get a PhotoMerchant subscription of your choice at HALF PRICE. That’s right, when PhotoMerchant goes live, you can choose the subscription level you want and get it for 50% the marked price! Interested yet? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Want more detail?
What is PhotoMerchant?
PhotoMerchant is an online sales, workflow and presentation tool that allows photographers to sell their photos online. Imagine being able to setup all your print sizes, paper types, options and products you wish to offer, as well as various discounts like volume, earlybird and coupon discounts. Then, adding shopping cart functionality along with credit card processing facilities to your own website, or if you don’t have a website, using the one that PhotoMerchant automatically creates for you. This is what PhotoMerchant does. It actually does more, and you can read below for more detail.
PhotoMerchant can integrate with your own website to turn it into a fully fledged e-commerce photography site where you can sell your photos and manage customers as well as handle orders, payments, printing and shipping. In the not too distant future PhotoMerchant will also be integrating with a number of Professional Printing Houses around the globe as well as providing post processing services and a host of other value-add features.
If you are interested in having a “first look” at PhotoMerchant and also helping us test the alpha version, leave a comment on this post or send us an email at email@example.com.
Alpha 1 Testing Phase
The alpha 1 testing phase will commence on 2 April 2008 and we are now looking for a cross section of photographers from the following genres: portrait, wedding, event, sports, landscape, school, seniors, animal, divorce, glamor, product, real estate, corporate, baby, travel and food photographers. If you fit any of these categories and you take photos with the objective of selling them then we want to hear from you.
Okay, so what can you expect?
The application will contain almost all of the functionality we will go to market with, however, it will neither have the final interface nor will it be bug free. What we need you to do is to put the application through its paces and record any bugs, suggestions for new features and usability issues in the process.
So you think you’ve got what it takes to become a PhotoMerchant test pilot? Then read on.
If you are interested in participating in the alpha testing phase please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or just leave a comment on this post with your email address and we’ll contact you!
Features you can expect to see in Alpha 1
Photos are uploaded to the PhotoMerchant system and are stored on fully redundant secure infrastructure. All rights to the photos remain with the photographer and are completely under the photographer’s control.
- Photos are organized into Albums and Child Albums
- Photo can be tagged with multiple words which makes it easy to find images that you or your customers want
- EXIF information is pulled from each photo uploaded and stored in the database. There are plans to make this searchable
- Photographers and customers can comment on photos
- Photos can be easily copied or moved between albums.
- Albums can be set to private or public. Private albums require a password to get in
- Albums can be set to expire on a given date
- Your photos can be organised into folders and sub folders on your PC, then uploaded to PhotoMerchant. PhotoMerchant can then automatically create albums and child albums that reflect the folder/sub folder layout that was uploaded.
- Images can be “mass tagged” during upload
- Fully redundant storage is employed in the backend
- Depending on the subscription level, photos can be stored in two different continents for ultimate redundancy.
- Our aim is to provide a storage solution that can be used to safely store your photos
- Customers can be arranged into groups
- The photographer can view what’s in their customer’s shopping carts at any time
- Customers who refer new customers to you can be offered a percentage of the refered customers sales revenue as store credit
- Customers can be associated with albums an receive store credit when anyone purchases from that album
Products and Options That Can Be Offered
- Paper Sizes: Any number of custom paper sizes can be offered by the photographer
- Paper Types: Any number of custom paper types can be offered by the photographer and these can be associated with certain paper sizes
- Album Items: These are items that are associated with an entire album such as CD/DVDs that contain all images, proof sheets, etc.
- Image Options & Option Groups: These are used to cater for anything that we haven’t thought of! For instance the photographer might want to offer Blemish Removal & Skin Tone Softening. These are Image Options. An Image Option can be placed in an Image Option Group.
- All the above features can be arranged into Feature Sets which allow any combination of features and options to be put together. These Feature Sets can then have Pricing Models applied to them so that multiple pricing for the same items can be achieved by using “Collections”…
- Collections are what pull it all together. They combine albums, images, feature sets, pricing models and discounts into logical groups
- Pricing Models are used to set the pricing on all items, products and options.
- Pricing options that can be configured are:
- Wholesale Price
- Retail Price
- Wholesale & Retail modifier (i.e. dollar amount or percentage)
- Taxable/Not Taxable
- Shipping Price
- Shipping Taxable/Not Taxable
- At launch we are hoping to offer full credit card facilities for 4 major currencies (USD, CAD, GBP & AUD) with more to come.
Internationalization & Localization
- Dates and numbers can be shown in the customer’s/photographer’s locale. So an Australian date of 24/03/2008 would look like 03/24/2008 to someone in the USA. This is all configurable.
Discounts and Specials
- Volume Discounts: Discounts that can be offered when a customer spends a certain amount
- Earlybird Discounts: Discounts that can be offered for a limited time.
- Coupon Discounts: Coupons can be given to customers to provide them with some type of discount
- Customer Registries: Like a bridal registry. People can contribute money to the owner of the registry (e.g. a bride) and the bride’s account is credited with the money.
- All customer orders are archived and always available for viewing even if the albums, images, products & options have been deleted.
- Orders can be viewed and summarized
Sales Reporting Tools (Just a few)
- View the number of times an image has been purchased
- View the amount of revenue generated by an image/album
- View the amount of profit generated by image/album
- View customer demographics
- View calendar financials (day/week/month/quarter/6 monthly/year/total)
- And more…
- There’s quite a bit more, but you’ll have to apply for the alpha testing phase to find out!
Duration of the Alpha Phase
At this stage we have no fixed time frame in mind for the alpha testing phase. How long we’ll keep at it will largely depend on how well our application stands up to your scrutiny and the level of feedback we receive, both in quality as well as quantity.
So please, apply now to become a participant in the PhotoMerchant alpha testing phase. Send us an email at email@example.com or leave a comment on this post with your email address and we’ll contact you. I’ll be providing more information about PhotoMerchant over the coming weeks, if you would like to stay informed subscribe to our RSS feed.