Monday, 25 February 2013

Why I've stopped using Fotomoto

I forgot to write a couple of weeks ago that I decided to stop using Fotomoto on my photography website. I think I had been using it for about a year, but only received one order. I did have quite a few images listed in the Fotomoto dashboard, so people had been clicking to look at prints. Whether they didn't order was down to the cost, a print size they wanted not being available, or they never intended to order but were just curious about the pricing, who can say?

Anyway, I stopped using Fotomoto because of the one order that I did get. It was an order for 10 postcards. I thought that Fotomoto processed the order, then sent you the profit. Actually what happens is that the payment is paid from the purchaser directly to you. Fotomoto then takes their cut from you (an automatic debit via Paypal).

Then you need to choose whether to use Fotomoto to process the order, or to self fulfil. For the postcards, if you choose to fulfil via Fotomoto, then they use Bay Photo in the US for processing the order. This was no good as

  1. The cost was too high when postage was taken into account since the person ordering the cards was in the UK.
  2. The delivery time would take too long, and according to Fotomoto the customer had selected 'Express' shipping.

So I decided to self fulfill the order. Getting 10 postcards printed is not easy. I looked at RedBubble, but they also get their postcards printed in the US. Eventually I settled on The minimum order was 20 cards, but this just meant I could get some extra cards for myself.

The next issue was that the Fotomoto widget only allowed the buyer to select a crop of the image where the image was cropped to fit the card. I thought they had an option that allowed the buyer to select the whole image, but it turns out that this is for prints only (and then they cut the print size down to remove the borders).

So I emailed the buyer with the different crop options, so they could choose which one they wanted. As it turned out, they wanted the default one (cropped to fit) that Fotomoto gives anyway. In their reply though, they mentioned text on the back of the card.

It's a good job they did, as no mention of text on the back of the card is made in the order details that you can get from Fotomoto. I enquired about this with Fotomoto, and apparently letting you know that the purchaser added text (through their order widget) is not a feature they provide. So

  1. If you self fulfil, you could easily send an order not knowing that text was (or could be) added to the back of the card, ending up with an unhappy customer when they receive their order with the text missing
  2. If you do realise that text can be added and that Fotomoto won't tell you when text has been added, you then have to email the customer asking them if they added any text, what that text was, the font and font size etc. Since they had already done this as part of the order process, this is quite unprofessional.

Anyway, in the end I did get it sorted by emailing the customer, and thankfully they were a nice person. I got 11 cards printed with their design (an extra one just in case anything went wrong with one of their other cards), and 9 printed with my own designs.

With Moo the front of each card can be different, but the back must be the same. So on my 9 cards I have the text the customer ordered printed on the back. This is only a small amount of text, nothing personal, and can easily be covered with a blank sticker.

They estimated that it would take a little less than a week until the cards were printed and ready for shipping. I felt I had to pay for expedited shipping since the customer had paid for 'Express' shipping, and there had already been a delay of a couple of days while I got the issues with the cropping and text sorted. (Though these two days were the weekend thankfully and not working days).

This put me a bit out of pocket on the overall transaction. But I would rather take a small loss on the order than disappoint the customer.

So the postcards arrived here a few days after ordering, I then posted the customer's ones on to them. Moo are quite good in that the postcards come in an outer moo branded sleeve with a removal unbranded sleeve that contains the postcards inside. This then has a slot that you can fit a business card into if you wanted. I didn't bother with this, and just sent them on in the unbranded white sleeve.

I sent them 1st class, and I was hoping they would arrive with the customer the next day, since it was a local address. Unfortunately it didn't, and arrived the day after, which still isn't too bad. So the customer ordered on Friday afternoon and received the item the next Saturday (just over a week). I'm not sure if that qualifies as 'Express', but certainly faster than it would have been from the US. The customer seemed happy enough anyway.

So, with all that trouble, I don't think it's worth using Fotomoto unless you are in the US. My plan is to just offer image licenses, and then let people print the photos using whatever service they want, with a list of suggested services.

This way there's no hassle for me, people can get the image printed and cropped however they like, add text to it, etc, and get it printed using a local printer if they wish. So better for me and better for the customer. It will probably be a while until I get round to implementing this though. For the moment, I have just removed Fotomoto from my website.

Today I was just working on an article for my photo tips website. I was hoping to get at least 2 articles written, but actually I have completed the grand total of 0. I have nearly finished one though, I just need to do a bit of fact checking and probably change part of it I've written that seems to be incorrect.

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