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Creation of photo print products via apps attracting new customers to sharing services: study

A study from Suite 48 Analytics shows that going mobile is the best option for photograph-printing vendors in terms of sales.

The research shows that photo printing applications on smartphones are attracting new customers who have never printed through these vendors before, as well as increasing shares. These customers are new to photo printing vendors in general, meaning that going mobile is attracting a whole new group of consumers for them.

“The key takeaway from the research is that the creation of photo print products through apps is attracting a substantial number of new customers to existing photo print product providers such as Snapfish or CeWe,” said Hans Hartman, market researcher at Suite 48 Analytics, Lost Altos, CA. “Going mobile pays for them.

“This maturing photo print trend upends the conventional wisdom that smartphone photographers are only interested in sharing digital photos through social network or messaging platforms, and are therefore not a potential market for printed photo products such as photo prints, photobooks, photo postcards, or photo-enriched phone cases,” he said.

Catching more fish
Hewlett-Packard picture printing vendor Snapfish operates online and mobile. These findings showed that more than 20 percent of its mobile users were new to the service completely.

Snapfish users are given free unlimited-online storage for their pictures. It makes its revenue by offering printing not just regular pictures but also personalized products such as mugs, photo books and cards.
Snapfish offers free prints for using its app

Snapfish claims increased sales and attraction of new customers by leveraging its app.

CeWe is a similar service based in Europe. More than 50 percent of its first-time mobile users are new customers.

This growth in customers could be due to the ease of the services.

Snapfish customers can seamlessly import their photos on other social media photo sites such as Instagram, Flikr and Facebook. Some features that CeWe offers include printing multiple pictures at once and easy browsing through products.

These services tackling photo-sharing and photo-printing together will greatly increase sales revenue.

However, these companies must learn how to increase awareness and appeal to a larger user base.

Although the numbers show that mobile has been successful for these companies, it also exhibits the potential that is being missed out on.

To wit: sales may be increasing, but downloads of the apps and visitors of the mobile pages are not reaching potential.

Card sharp
Aside from pure-play photo-sharing platforms, drugstore chain Walgreens is another company eyeing the potential of mobile picture printing.

Tie-ins also help. For example, greeting card mobile app PhotoCard appealed to Android smartphone and tablet users and offered Walgreens customers 30 percent off when they made a greeting card for Valentine’s Day and picked it up in-store (see more).

Shutterfly, an Internet-based social expression and personal publishing service, also got on-board with photo printing by debuting Wink, a service that combines real-time sharing with photo printing for the social networking generation (see more).

“Photo app developers should see the offering of print products as a valuable additional option to monetize their user base,” Mr. Hartman said. “We recommend these developers add a print-products button in their apps by using an API or SDK now commonly available from B2B photo output providers.

“Ultimately, we see photo-printed goods more being offered on mobile as a feature inside generic photo apps than as a product, i.e. a standalone photo output app,” he said.

Final Take
Brielle Jaekel is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily and Mobile Marketer, New York