Dakis used the IPIC conference in August as a platform to re-launch its upgraded Pro Event Hub platform, a localised , distributed take on the SmugMug photo ordering business model, enabling photographers and photo labs who operate in the same area to collaborate more easily.
Australian photographers use Smugmug for its pixel-for-pixel cloud storage and template website features, but the ol’ Tyranny of Distance makes its print order fulfillment options less attractive, as the wholesale labs it partners with are located in the US and UK.
As Dakis CEO Philippe Hugron noted at the IPIC session, cost of goods on Smugmug is high for photographers, shipping is also expensive and takes a long time – especially to far flung corners of the world like Australia and New Zealand – and there is no ability to customise with local school or sports club logos, etc.
He also said that Covid and the various lockdowns have prompted a shift towards dealing with local businesses, which the Pro Event Hub addresses.
For the photo lab, developing an events hub business:
– delivers stable revenues which smooth out the seasonality of photo retailing;
– is way less price sensitive than going up against commodified Harvey Norman and Big W prices;
– results in selling more higher ticket, higher margin items;
– helps develop a relationship with local photographers and potential new consumer customers.
Wedding, schools and event photographers get a low-cost, ‘frictionless’ path to more sales, can offer faster turnaround times; and can avoid shipping costs (with click-and-collect). The lab sets the product cost for the photographers and they, in turn, set their own pricing for their customers, hopefully at a decent premium above normal retail prices. ‘Photographers will sell at their own premium prices – not a retail price. Wedding and schools photography commands a premium,’ said Philippe.
There are two options for local photographers and labs to work together: At the lower end, the photographer’s image galleries are hosted on the lab’s website, either password protected or open, and the photographer supplies clients with a link where they can view the images and place orders, with revenue direct to the lab and split with the the photographer.
‘An added benefit here is that photographers will be sending customers to your website. Ideally, they will become customers of your store.’
Larger professional photography businesses with established brands would more likely choose to run the galleries and a shopping cart as a pop-up on their own websites. Orders are channelled through to the lab, with the end client not necessarily aware who is doing the printing.
On these external accounts, the photographer pays directly to the lab via credit card or account.
‘This is for photo labs who want to build a network of partnering photographers,’ said Philippe. ‘It’s not about having one or two photographers, but going out there and recruiting 10 or 12 and then building to having hundreds on your own network.’
He said that with 10 partnering photographers, each of whom are shooting one event per week, and with each event generating $500 in sales to the lab, $100,000 in gross profit can be made at a margin of 40 percent.
Philippe pointed to schools seeking new fundraising options could be another potential customer for labs offering the Pro Events Hub, which resonates with another initiative, photofundraising.com.au, which Inside Imaging recently reported on.
(While our photo retailing readers will be well aware of Canadian-based Dakis, it may be unfamiliar to professional photographers. It is a relatively small software developer business focussed on helping small businesses in the photographic industry, with a profound understanding of the photo retailing channel and a solid customer base in Australia. Local agent is iPhoto. Many independent labs – including Fitzgerald Photo in Fremantle – have been using Dakis software for many years for online ordering of both prints and hardware, and lab automation. The business is renowned among users for its responsiveness and personal communication to its client base.