Business Model Changes

I figure someone else will have started a topic on this, but I haven't found it...

I received an email a couple hours ago stating that on 10/10, Fotomoto will be changing their business model. As one of those people that sells only a few prints, as I understand it, I can:

Pay twice as much (increase from 15% to 30%) for using Fotomoto, or
Pay the SAME amount (15%) PLUS a $120/year fee for using Fotomoto, or
Pay a slightly lower amount (10%) PLUS A $300/year fee.

Before I head off to find an alternative (I figure if I'm reading this correctly there will very shortly be a lot of current members asking about more cost-effective alternatives), I figured I'd ask if I'm reading the email correctly.

I'm not sure I understand the process model changes, so I'm not sure how they'll affect me, but from my reading, the intent appears to be an effort to cull the herd, getting rid of those of us that don't have large sales numbers. Which makes sense, since I'm sure 80% of Fotomoto's income comes from 20% of the members.

I'm hoping I'm incorrect in my understanding, but if so, I'm sure others will correct my misconceptions.
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  • I’m puzzled about value.
    1
    It would be nice to have more than a 10-day notice. Can you make a 30-day notice so we have time to evaluate the choices?

    Also, you may blog about this, but as I understand it, this is how your service will work vs. the old system:

    Old System:

    1. You have a shopping cart that goes on our website that we have to integrate with our web design.
    2. We pay 15%.
    3. When we get an order, you collect the money.
    4. We upload the image to your website.
    5. You pay us.
    6. You handle customer service.

    New System:

    1. You have a shopping cart that goes on our website that we have to integrate with our web design.
    2. We pay either 30%, or a fee and 15% or 10%.
    3. When we get an order, you collect the money.
    4. We upload the image to your website.
    5. You deposit the money minus the fee into our PayPal account.
    6. We pay some portion of the PayPal fee or all of it (you haven't looked into it yet--seriously?).
    7. We pay the printer directly via credit card.
    8. We handle any returns.
    9. We pay our credit card from the money that you deposited into our PayPal account.
    10. We deal with the extra accounting, data entry and paperwork that this involves.

    If this is true, then why wouldn't I just use a shopping cart on my site that eliminates you as the middle man? It's actually easier for me to upload an order to WHCC, MPIXpro or Bay Photo via ROES than it is to use your system. Going this other route has many less steps and less fees.

    1. I install a shopping cart on my website that I have to integrate with my web design.
    2. I collect money via PayPal.
    3. I upload the order to the lab of my choice using ROES, which is much easier, because I don't have to load a browser, go to your site, make multiple clicks until I get to the page where I upload an image.
    4. I pay the lab directly via credit card that they keep on file.
    5. I pay the credit card from the money I collected via PayPal.
    7. I pay my somewhere around 3% fee based on my volume. I think I'm less than that with my volume.
    8. I handle any returns.
    9. I deal with the extra accounting, data entry and paperwork that this involves.

    The only thing that's missing between your new business model and my own fulfillment process is YOU and your 30%, or a fee and 15% or 10% fee.

    If this is true, then what exactly do you offer? In the past, you offered a no hassle way to get paid from selling prints. There's a lot of hassle in this new model.

    To me, it seems like you offer a plug-in and that's it. If that's the service you want to offer, then why not just offer the plug-in for sale?
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    • Ahmad (Official Rep) October 03, 2012 00:31
      Bryan,

      It's correct, we will charge your credit card, but all the information (including your print cost, if you choose us to do the print) will be in the same system. You enter the credit card once into the system, and you won't have to do anything after that. And yes, you would be able to earn cash back on your card, if you have a good credit card... :)

      --Ahmad
    • This is the downfall of the new model for me, at least. One of the reasons that I like this system is I don't have the extra accounting to deal with. Basically, all you're offering now is a plugin that takes the order, because everything else that happens is the way I used to run my fine art prints. There's really limited reason to use your plugin, because what you used to do

      *take payment
      *take care of ordering and paying for the prints
      *send me a check
      *take care of customer service

      you don't do any more. Now, I

      *take the payment
      *take care of paying for the prints
      *take care of the accounting
      *take care of customer service

      If someone comes up with a Wordpress plugin that simply uses java to add a buy print button to every image on my website, and make a simple lightbox shopping cart, then it does everything that you're doing without the fees. Back in the day, I coded something that did pretty much that. That's all you're really offering now for a higher price than everything you did before. Heck, in Wordpress and Nextgen, I could code a shortcode with a PayPal buy now button and insert it to every image in Nextgen, and save the fee for minimal work and it would do pretty much what you're doing.

      Am I understanding this correctly?
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  • 1
    I became read-only on this yesterday to give myself time to think about a reasonable course of action. I came to FM because in my mind, it was worth 15% to have someone handle the simple, grunt-work part of photography - getting the quantity and size, and delivering a print. Up 'til then I was handling that myself and I was glad to turn it over to someone that could do it with economies of scale that generated a significant profit for them at 15%.

    I don't believe, however, it is worth 30% in this economic climate, when clients are no longer ignorant of the real cost of automatically processing orders and getting adequate machine prints.

    On the other hand, you who are stating that there are good alternatives must be delusional, 'cause Ahmad has stated repeatedly that:

    "I personally do not know of *any* free service with a support OR low fees like ours. And there's a good reason for it: good quality and service costs money."

    "as you can see all other good services also charge pretty much the same amount."

    "I know there is no other service like Fotomoto, but I hope you see that as a good thing - that a unique service with a great support deserves $10 / month! :)"

    So, lets look at a couple examples of "great support". As many of you are aware, the purchase widget has has been a sore spot recently (at least 5-6 months of "recently):
    Poor default selection of sizes,
    Poor ability to display other sizes,
    Inability to customize the default displayed sizes,
    Inability to change the default number of sizes.
    Requests to correct these shortcomings have been requested for a LONG time, with the repeated response being "We have higher priorities we're working on."

    Would it be accurate to say we now see what those higher priorities were?

    Store style and layout when integrated with a website: Does anyone know HOW LONG the "Buttons" option has been displayed in "Style and Layout" without being implemented?

    It's not an indictment of Derek or Ahmad, but "GREAT" service and support is RESPONSIVE. Months requesting a change to the purchasing widget with no response (by response I mean FIXING, not telling us it won't be fixed), and over a year waiting for buttons instead of the current buying toolbar aren't "great" in my book. I'm not sure about anyone else's.

    I suspect someone up the food chain at Fotomoto decided they've got enough 4 and 5-figure per month clients to generate revenue, and it's time to get rid of us "low earners"... Long term, I think that's a mistake 'cause if history holds, if those 5-figure earners find someplace a nickel cheaper, they'll be out the door. But, the bottom line is it's their sandbox and they get to set the rules. As always we vote with our pocketbooks or our feet.

    From my experience as a software consultant, I'd say virtually ALL companies have a core of high income generating clients that essentially subsidize the other 90%. You don't price that other 90% out of your company or surprise them with sudden, huge increases 'cause it's VERY expensive to get them back once they're gone. And it's even harder to get new clients once your reputation for that kind of business practice gets out. And those folks that leave, WILL make sure a lot of other people know how they were treated.

    For me, I'll continue to watch the discussion of alternatives here and determine whether or not I:
    Go back to handling my own orders, printing, and delivery (which has some positives - I can do my own printing, which reduces cost and helps ensure my clients get high quality work),
    Move elsewhere - if I'm going to have to pay a monthly fee, I want more flexibility, customizability, responsiveness, and services for it,
    Stay here and just jump in and out of the $10/month plan - this will happen if I decide I'm too lazy to do it myself or find an alternative.
    Or, stay with the 30% plan and raise prices a ton to cover the additional processing, float on money if I"m having to pay for the printing, cover the additional fee for Paypal (or whoever), and whatever other nickel-and-dime charges get tucked into the new model.
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  • Ahmad (Official Rep) October 02, 2012 22:49
    We have two new posts in our blog about about Payments In The New Model and More Details On The New Plans. These posts should address some of your concerns and answer some of your questions (including the PayPal / Stipe fees).

    Please let us know if you have more questions.
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  • This reply was removed on 2012-10-02.
    see the change log
  • I wanted to update this for accuracy. ZF cannot integrate seamlessly with your own external site. If you sue their website and templates, then you can have your own domain name and it is seamless. however, they offer no way to customize your site, no css, php, external plugins. If you don't like the options they offer, then you're just out of luck. I wasn't very impressed with their customer examples either. Some of the sites look very amateur, indeed, even though they use the templates.

    25% total fee for free is much better. Thank you.

    You still might have some stiff competition on the pay side from Zenfolio which offers a 12% fee for prints, plus frame options, for 10.00 month. The 10 option is fully integrable into external websites also. Right now, Zenfolio offers much more than FM does for 10.00 month.

    8% for digital
    4% for print your own
    12% prints
    framed prints
    on site storage
    watermarking
    etc.

    Plus, no Paypal needed.

    -----------
    AGAIN, they do not offer seamless integration with your external site. ZF is mainly a template site, and seamless integration is only possible if you use their templates.
    -----------

    For me, I have to soon make my decision to go Zenfolio or stay with FM. The reasons is that if i stay with FM, I need to create and upload all of my nearly finished images to my own WordPress galleries.

    Zenfolio does things differently. All of your images are stored on the Zenfolio site, and embedded into your external site. Currently for WordPress users, this is done using RSS or a WordPress plugin, or a simply "shortcode" that WP uses for embedding things. However, ZF is now planning to offer full integration with WP.

    In any case, I'll need to make a decision because I don't want to go through the process of creating galleries, uploading, and otherwise deploying my images twice.

    ZF offers a trial period will full access to their paid accounts. I think I'll do a test run to see how much work it will be integrating ZF into my WordPress site.
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  • I’m over it
    2
    Ahmad - the price amendment is a very small step in the right direction but we are still being charged more money for more hassle!

    Convenience is what society craves and people are prepared to pay for it. Take this away whilst charging extra for the privilege = unhappy customers that will leave you.

    Your operation seems to be very knee-jerk in it's approach, might I suggest taking some time out on the matter, hold off the new plans until you are sure this is the right decision for all parties involved.

    You have/had a great product it would a shame to waste it.
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  • Not exactly perfect, but my brother, a web designer and Wordpress designer, mentioned that he thought that I should change to WooCommerce, which would be better in the long run, but a bit more work up front to setup.

    Here's the link: http://www.woothemes.com/woocommerce/
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  • 1
    Sorry Fotomoto,

    I've signed up with Zenfolio Premium for $10 per month and I get 422 products for my customers to choose from. Tote bags, magnets, t-shirts, framing and all the standard stuff, but also full support globally for shipping as they have print partners worldwide. You send them the full hi-res image, and they act as a back up service for them too, so no need to pay for the likes of Carbonite. This also means I don't have to keep uploading the final files for each sale, as they already have them, and they provide watermarking too. In fact they provide everything I need except a DNS nameserver. This is the sort of thing I was suggesting when I talked about added value.

    I wish you all the luck with your new model, but be advised. Zenfolio does offer the same solution you do. But bigger, better, and for the same $10 per month.
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  • This reply was removed on 2012-10-03.
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  • For those considering Zenfolio, you should chime in here if you are using WORDPRESS. They are considering a fully seemless integration plugin with WordPress.

    http://zenfolio.uservoice.com/forums/...

    I do think that FM's model of allowing seemless integration with external sites is the future. It's the most professional looking solution too as people stay on your site as opposed to going to a FM site URL to see the galleries.
    • view 2 more comments
    • Well, I'm also moving away from Wordpress to use a Zenfolio template, to it will be seamless. As I will keep marcusmonaghan.com as the URL, there will be no mention of Zenfolio or their print partners anywhere. Not even in the packaging (except in europe with PhotoBox). I'm find the uploading of images so much faster than I did with Wordpress also. I can upload and update whole galleries at a time time.
      Zenfolio did offer a wordpress plug-in but i guess they could not do it was a well as Fotomoto so they scraped the idea, but that was back in 2009. Technology has moved on a lot sinse then, so maybe they have a new widget they are working on.
    • They are still "contemplating the WP plug in. You are right, if you use the ZF website and template, and you're ok with that, then you can have your own domain name work seamlessly. If you're ok with not having the options to customize your website anymore than ZF allows--no css, php, plug ins etc., then it's a good choice.

      That just doesn't work for me though. I need a custom site.

      I do not like the idea of pushing people to a Paypal site to pay, however, as that seems kludgy and amateurish to me. Offering Paypal as a payment option is good business, but moving them off the members site to an external Paypal site is lazy.
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  • I have a question about the Paypal payment method for customers.

    So when a customer is ready to "check out" they are pushed to the payment option, which is Paypal? There they just enter their CC number or use their Paypal account to pay?

    I've never been redirected to the Paypal site to pay for a product, so I don't know what type of hassel it is for the customer. I'm assuming there is none, just enter the CC information on the Paypal server, which everyone knows is safe, and pay the charge?

    However, keeping the customer on the FM screen to pay looks much more professional than pushing them to the Paypal site. What is this, Ebay? You know what I mean?
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    • Oh, no! This is *not* good. Keeping buyers on my site is a primary reason I use Fotomoto. Leaving my site to go to PayPal will be a huge point of confusion for many of my less computer-savvy clients.

      I urge you to reconsider.
    • Hey Derek, is it possible to NOT do this using paypal? I mean does paypal not have the ability to do a seamless transaction? If not, I guess I can use Stripe. Still trying to stay with FM.
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  • Have been loyal Fotomoto customer for years and been stoked with how easy it was to integrate into my site. After reading through the various posts and sharing some of the same concerns as the other people posting, there are a couple questions and feedback I have that I don't see being addressed in other posts. (It is possible I just haven't seen it.)

    The original FM email that came out stated: "Starting October 10th, we will begin offering 3 models. Our members will have one week to choose one of the offered models. Starting October 15th, we will stop offering our service in its current form."

    The last I checked a week is seven days, the 10th through the 15th is actually 5 days. (I'm just sayin'.) I do appreciate the advanced notice, but the terms seem to be in flux - as if depending on the amount of blowback. A few posts have questions regarding the new model that employees have replied, "I will get back to you next week."

    Not having a solid plan on announcement day and not being able to answer our specific questions, essentially negates any advanced notice (which wasn't much to begin with) and makes it near impossible to fairly compare your service to any others. Personally, part of my reason for picking FM initially years ago, was it wasn't complicated. I didn't have to spend time looking over the different models and try to figure out all the intricacies of fees and pricing involved, unlike everywhere else. You were simple. It made sense. Now I'm thinking not so much.

    I'm not sure if this new business model idea was broached in the forums/social media before this week or not. In the future, if you are wanting to respond to customer feedback similar to how you seem to be (lowering transaction fee on free account, paying the 3% paypal / stripe account fee) this may be a better place to start and float / work the idea. If you are going to make such a drastic change across the board, have the details figured out, anticipate questions, give users more than a week/5 days. Particularly when staff can't get back to them with an answer for a week/7days. And once it is out there to your customer base stand behind it, own it. I'm left with a feeling of is this happening and when mixed with what are they going to do tomorrow? While I can truly appreciate FM's stance on not sending a bunch of email, I just learned that customer's were being charged .99 transaction fee for orders under $10.00. I would have appreciated an email about this. I'm not one to read a company's blog, visit it's forum, or any of that on any kind of regular consistent basis. I'm here because of the initial email regarding the service change. I'm sure there must be others out there like me who don't have time to sift through all the information. I only learned of the changes to the changes because I took time out to try and figure out what I was going to do. (Still no clue - further away from deciding after coming to the forum.) It would be nice to get updates like this via email - maybe users could choose how much or how little they want to be contacted via email through their dashboard?

    So after all of that:
    1. Are you still sticking with your roll-out date of the 15th with 3 models offered as of 10/10?
    2. Is there going to be another updated document similar to the initial email, perhaps a webpage, that outlines your proposed service, fees, pricing, details, etc.

    I like the concise answers that are being provided regarding fees in the forum. I think it would also be helpful if there was a current "Upcoming Service Offering Page" we could get to from our dashboard. Even if you have to frequently change it at this point, at least we could easily find info rather than weeding through posts.

    I'll jump off the soap box now. I have tried not to gripe but rather be constructive and provide feedback. Hopefully you can provide answers to the questions and might find the feedback helpful.
    • Derek (Official Rep) October 04, 2012 08:14
      Hi whittedann,

      Thank you for your feedback and continued support. Our management is closely monitoring and participating in this thread, so your voice is being heard.

      To answer your questions here:
      1. Yes, you're correct on the dates.
      2. Yes - we will definitely post a page that outlines the plans offered, and as usual, we'll post the needed articles in our Support Center.

      Last, my best advice on how to keep abreast of any discussion is to follow this or other threads in our Community. If you just want the necessary details, check for blog updates or you can wait for the official documentation in the Support Center.

      I hope that helps and kind regards,
      Derek
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  • Few specific questions about the new model:

    1. Since the payment is sent directly to the artist right after, do we still offer return policy to our customers?

    2. I am slightly confused about the post re: subsidizing PP costs. What is "company"? Could you please make an example?

    3. Discounts: now that we have an option to pay for printing from our pocket, could we offer deeper discounts (negative income) and store credit?

    4. Ability to customize widget for Pro/Pro+: any details? Any plans on mobile/responsive design?

    5. One of the best and most valuable features of FotoMoto is the printing partner network, since we get to choose one now, could you please make a list of them and let know if we are allowed to communicate special requests to these shops?

    Thank you,
    -d.
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  • 1
    So, after reading the new blog posts, things are a bit more clear. It looks like costs for low volume users have gone up 47% (15 vs 22% transaction fee), plus there is no way to save the 3% paypal transaction fee to receive our payments. I personally would prefer the option to be able to receive a check after 30 days to avoid the 3% PP fee.

    The major issue I have with this business model change is the speed of the switch. 10 days is not much at all. Photographers need more time to evaluate options, rather than being forced to commit so quickly. The other thing not specified is if there's a contract with the Pro plans--do you have to commit to a year and pay monthly or is there a cheaper pay all at once option?

    Also, a common gesture of goodwill is to allow those currently using the service to be grandfathered in for a certain time period, say six months, at current rates on the current number of websites, but after that, you are forced to choose your plan. Or a cheaper option is presented for all current members as of a certain date; while new users must choose from the new plans. From a current Fotomoto user's point of view, paying more and receiving less benefits doesn't encourage us to stay.
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  • I agree the timing is discouraging. I have two events coming up -- one tomorrow and one on Saturday. I will skip setting up sales for the event tomorrow since it would get caught in the service change crossover and not worth the hassle/risk. For the event on Saturday, however, I have already agreed to set up the images for sale at agreed upon prices so will have to eat the loss of the new increase in fees. Plus, I fear there may be ordering glitches since the gallery will be loaded before the crossover but orders (if any ) might occur both before and after the crossover. Who really thinks this will go completely glitch free? Moreover, I have had checks mailed to me by Fotomoto in the past so have to quickly spend time I don't have over the next few days researching Paypal/Stripe, setting up an account, and incurring whatever fees there are with that. I clearly don't have time to research and test out alternatives to Fotomoto in the next few days although I hate to even have to use Fotomoto for clients without first having the chance to see how the new service works (like someone asked -- will the client now be taken to a paypal site? I also have questions about how all this works for state sales tax purposes since the point of the change seems to be to avoid having to send 1099s -- does this now make me responsible for collecting state sales tax from the client? If so, since there seems to be no way to do this, will I have to pay state sales tax without being able to collect it from the customer -- need to ask my accountant about that one but again no time to get an answer before I have to post the event photos for sale? So this might be yet again another cost built into using fotomoto? I would love to be able to sort this all out before having to test it on clients next week but I think the best I can hope for is that no one actually buys any prints from this weekend's event!
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  • I’m frustrated
    I forgot to add that I have also been having technical problems loading images for sale into Fotomoto today so am feeling especially grumpy!
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  • Zenfolio update:

    The best ZF can do with external site implementation is to offer a link to the ZF galleries, which takes people off of your external site. You have the option of offering your logo or text or both at the top of the ZF gallery to link back to your site, but that's so, so 1999.

    Also, your URL will reflect the zenfolio URL when customers click through to a gallery:

    So, once you click through to your Zenfolio site, your landscape gallery (provided you have specified your Friendly URL for the gallery) will look like: http://dwdallam.zenfolio.com/landscap.... Does that make sense? --ZF CS.

    This is not going to work for me. I don't want customers leaving my site and having to link back to it each time they want to view a gallery. Total kludge on ZF side. But they are mainly an in house template site. Again, not professional enough for me. It's just a fancy Flicker like site, really, as it has the same "You stay on our servers and use our templates" business model.
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  • I've disconnected FM from my galleries. I will just self-fulfill orders until we get something else in place. Since we host our own site/gallery, we will probably just install a cart, and I will continue placing orders. This is what I was already doing the majority of the time anyway, because FM's catalog was so threadbare. I only kept the FM service for clients' friends and families with very basic print needs.

    Honestly, had this been the tiniest bit thought out, discussed, and communicated to customers with a clear plan in place, I would have considered staying. But this has been so random and clearly not well considered that I feel I have no choice. I feel certain that if I stayed, I would always worry whether another half-baked plan was being hatched at any given moment, and how badly it would effect my relationship with my clients.
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  • This reply was removed on 2012-10-04.
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  • Derek (Official Rep) October 04, 2012 17:28
    David and all,

    Please keep our Community rules in mind here: "we reserve the right to remove any spam related to inappropriate language, mentioning or linking to other companies".

    It's one thing to do a bit of comparing our new business model to other companies, but posting a promotion for another service's special offer for people that want to leave Fotomoto is over the top.

    I am in to open community discussion and don't like deleting people's posts, so please keep your posts within our guidelines.

    Thanks for your consideration and kind regards,
    Derek
    • Should have left it Derek--lol. Just shows how NOT FM other options are. FM is unique in that it does seamless external sites. This seems to be a business model no other company can duplicate.

      I looked at Shootproof and it's not going to work for external, seamless sites.

      I also cannot do ZF because, like I said in another post, ZF is like a fancy Flicker site. Maybe it's just me, but when I see sites that use templates that all pretty much look like they come from the same source, I immediately think AMATEUR! that's just me though, Who knows? Maybe "we're all the same" is the future?

      FM can't be hurt by sites that require that you use their website to conduct business because FM doesn't even offer that. I love what FM is doing and is trying to do. it just agrees with me.
    • Wow, for someone who just today went looking for this type of solution, it is clear that FotoMoto doesn't have its act together in any way. As of right now, even the Blog posts trying to explain things to people are 404s! Looks like a company management nightmare.
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  • Derek,

    I have a friend who uses Paypal as his billing source, and his website is completely seamless. No one sees Paypal at all.

    I have no idea if this can be implemented for FM members, but it can at least be seamless with individual websites using paypal.
    • Derek (Official Rep) October 05, 2012 07:06
      Hi dwdallam,

      Thanks for the feedback.

      At first release, customers will enter their payment information within our shopping Cart widget as usual if the seller is using Stripe as a payment accounts. If the seller uses PayPal, we will re-direct the customer to PayPal to make the payment. This may change in the future, but for now that's what to expect.

      I hope that clarifies and kind regards,
      Derek
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  • Couple of things have kept me from pushing more sales through Fotomoto:
    1) My first print order was packaged in a brown envelope with nothing more than a cellophane print sleeve with prints inside. Prints were OK but overall impression was less than enthusiastic. Not the way I want clients to feel when their prints arrive in the mail.
    2) There does not seem to be a way to upload files to Fotomoto and put into collections with different pricing options. I would have to load into my site, click through each one and then go rearrange into collections.
    I left Fotomoto online but have not encouraged portrait clients to use the service, only remote, event customers.
    Now that I'l be paying a fee, I'll be changing to Zenfolio.
    • Cory, if you don't need an external site that shows only your own URL and that stays on your external site, and you are ok with using ZF templates and their website, it may be a better option for you.

      If you need full control over your site with css, php, 3rd party plugins, and the rest, ZF won't work for you.

      I would also like to ask, what do you mean by "the prints were ok"? How was the quality of the print? Also, was there any backing material in the envelope to stiffen the package so as not to dog ear the images?

      I've mailed images in brown manila envelopes before and they came to the client bent! Now I make sure to insert back and front stiff cardboard with the image sandwiched between.
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  • Derek (Official Rep) October 05, 2012 20:02
    Hi Corey,

    Thank you for your questions...here are some answers for you.

    1. We're soon to make some big changes to our service, and you'll have the options to fulfill prints yourself or via any print service you like in addition to the services we're already integrated with. For details please see our recent blog posts.

    2. Please see How Fotomoto works on your site... for an explanation of how our system works. You actually don't upload any images to us, and you can set product and pricing options in your Fotomoto Dashboard.

    We hope that clears things up for you and helps you to make the decision on whether or not Fotomoto is the best solution to sell your work from your website.

    Kind regards,
    Derek
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  • Derek, is there anyway for us to see what the Paypal site will look like once people click to pay?
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  • I’m feeling much better
    I am feeling better about this whole Business Model Change, but I am confused still. I really like that you dropped the fee to 22% and decided to cover paypal stuff. The thing that confuses me is that you will be taking half of the selling price (correct me if Im wrong.) Wont you be charging me 25% (including paypal fees) then I will have to pay for the print? Is this correct?
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  • Jared,

    In the past the cost of the print was taken out of the selling price as well as the 15% fee. The difference now is that you get the money minus 22% and then have to pay for the print rather than having it taken out first. Other than the % increase it comes out about the same.

    You alway have had to "pay" for the print.
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  • I'm still trying to grasp all of the changes, as are others. So why the change for us to pay for the print rather than keeping it in house?

    So what happens with returns, not just customer satisfaction returns, but quality issue returns? Do we need to contact the printer individually, explain the return, go through the order ID number, and then watch our CCs to make sure the charge is credited to our cards?

    Then, do we do the same thing with Paypal?

    I'm seeing a nightmare scenario.

    I'm also seeing that you will effectively get rid of all your problems with free customers. They simply won't use the service: Credit cards, Paypal, charge backs oh my (plus the 25% fee).

    I really like what FM does, and I'm trying desperately to continue, even as a paying customer, but I'm also having a hard time justifying the new changes.

    I mean I can set up a simple shipping cart with 4 different prices for prints, and then use my own printer (he's in Oregon only 200 miles from me, and I know his product is both quality and consistent). Also, Paypal will integrate seamlessly with my external site, so customers don't need to leave my site to pay. And the printer drop ships with my business name on the package.

    It would take a little while to set up, for sure, but then except for PP fees, I keep all of the profit. Since I'm dealing with my CC and Paypal now with FM, the extra business side is relatively similar to the new FM method, financially speaking.

    I do understand this is this not strictly apples to apples. FM offers more than I can using simple Paypal integration. And I need to submit the order to my printer--fairly simple as an upload to his website.

    I do hope that the steps to use FM are outlines in a clear number format in the near future (Credit Card use, Paypal steps, return steps, etc.). I also hope that the steps our customers will go through will be outlined as well.
    • view 4 more comments
    • I'd like to see how you end up implementing Woocommerce. When I looked at it, it seemed that I would need to build 'products' rather than adding an easy drop down menu to all of the photos already present on my site.
      Please add your site address so I can see how you end up doing this.
      Thanks
    • You do need to build products and there's a bit of a learning curve setting up attributes and variations, but after those are set up, it's easy to add a new picture (product). It doesn't add an easy drop down menu to preexisiting photos. You do have to add them to the store one at a time. My brother and another work associate of his are planning on making a plugin for Woo that automagically adds a photo product when you upload a new picture, but that's in the future. Here's the test site that I used: http://test.woothemes.com/bryan/
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  • It took me a while to wrap my head around this as well but, the more I think about it, the better I like it.

    Here's how I see it:
    Old:
    Customer clicks 'Order Print' - money collected by Fotomoto and put in escrow x 30 days - email sent to Seller who uploads image - Image sent to single (?) lab for fullfillment with money used from escrowed account - print delivered to satisfied customer within ... days - money released to seller 30 days later

    It was an okay system but limited as far as options other than prints.

    New:
    Customer clicks 'Order Print' (with new options? different/customizable banner?)
    Money instantly wired to Seller's Paypal/Stripe account minus --% fee for Free/Pro/Pro Plus user
    Email sent to Seller who uploads image to Fotomoto or to choice of own lab or own printer
    Lab withdraws cost of print from Seller's credit card on file (I already do this with matted prints via Bay Photo anyway)
    Lab/Seller sends image to satisfied customer
    No need to wait for funds to be released

    I think the New system will end up leading to better sales of matted/framed prints where the margin is improved. That should pay for itself. And to self fulfill is awesome! Can't wait to get that first order for a matted print and order it myself via Bay Photo.
    • view 1 more comment
    • Don't get me wrong...anything I can do to make the ordering and fulfilling process easier is awesome. That being said, I missed having control over the product I sold by relying on Fotomoto's printer partners and their packaging. Nothing beats Bay Photo in my opinion and it'll be nice to be able to take orders via Fotomoto and fulfill them with the printer of my choice and whose product I trust wholeheartedly.
    • Derek (Official Rep) October 09, 2012 18:05
      Hi Eyal,

      Thanks for the post, and yes - the new options will give you much more flexibility in how you want to fulfill your prints...we hope you like it =)

      Also, just so you know, Bay Photo is (and has been) one of the services we have been using and will continue to use for automatic fulfillment.

      Kind regards,
      Derek
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  • Derek (Official Rep) October 09, 2012 18:19
    Hi all,

    We appreciate all of the questions about how the new business + process model is going to work. For the latest information please see our recent Blog posts.

    Regarding how the order process will work, there will be a few important changes - please see Fotomoto order process for details.

    Hopefully that will answer many of your questions.

    Kind regards,
    Derek
    • view 2 more comments
    • (1) OK so after the customer orders the print, all sales are made by us? In other words, we will set all printing prices according to our printer and all shipping charges in the Dashboard?

      (2) With Stripe, if a customer does not have an Amex CC, then they cannot place orders? If true--who would ever use Stripe? That's a recipe for lost sales.

      (3) All applicable tax laws, which means interstate sales tax laws too?

      And you might be breaking California tax laws if you do that. I cannot charge tax for labor in California, only hard products are taxed, like paper, frames, anything that is manufactured. The person "reselling" that product is required to pay the sales tax back to the state--the person who uses the resellers license is responsible for paying the taxes on those products. They way I understand it, since I am not selling anything except my labor, passing taxes to me and having me pay the tax would put me in an illegal position.

      Also, are taxes collected in the state the print is made, or where your members reside? If the state where there are no sales taxes, please print all order in states where there are no sales taxes collected.

      I'm so confused about #3 I have no idea where to start trying to be tax legal in my state.
    • Derek (Official Rep) October 10, 2012 18:15
      dwdallam, I'm going to hold off on answering your question here so I can get you an official response. We'll post the information as soon as possible.

      Thanks in advance for your patience and kind regards,
      Derek
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  • I’m confused
    How do we order at cost with the new system? Is it possible to still order at base cost cutting out the paypal 3% and fotomoto's 22% fee using coupons?
    Also are we charged tax again when it is charged to our credit card?

    Without going into specifics, at $10/month I can get a lot more with a competitor..even with the same commission 15% of the ENTIRE price is a lot more than 12% of only the MARKUP along with lower base prices.
    • The main thing FM offers that other sites do not is seamless integration to your own, external and custom website. Professionals usually prefer this. I do. If you only need a template website with your images on the server where you do business, then you are probably much better going that route.

      Do note that with other "full service" options you only get what they give you website option-wise.

      That's not necessarily a bad thing. It's just not what FM does.

      Also, whereas FM use to be easy to implement, today, not so much. You need a Paypal account, you need a credit card account, you will need your resellers license, in some instances, and you'll need to make quarterly payments to your State and Federal tax organizations--even if you are not making money, and even though you are not reselling anything. This alone may sink FM.

      I mean when a potential customer reads the implementation process, they may be so confused they just leave:

      (1) gives us your credit card.
      (2) well pay you using PP
      (3) your CC will get charged for prints, but nothing else, then we'll make the order and send you the tax, if any, to your PP account.
      (4) then you can get your own documents in order and pay your state tax board with the taxes we collect on orders, and instead of allowing the customer to pay the tax, pass it to you. (still don't see why this is)
      (5) but if you want to use your own printer, you call them and upload your images. But we'll still take the order initial, then pass it to you. (No idea how shipping costs will work when using our own printers)
      (6) if you want to use our printers, well place the order for you, but we'll still collect any taxes that you will have to deal with. And your CC still gets charged for the prints, but only the prints. We'll take our fees from that order, including the tax, and pass the tax to you.

      What? Who's on third? That's what I said, who's on third? I just told you, who's on third!"

      I've spent more hours trying to figure out how this new system is going to work than I have on my photography lately.
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  • I’m Disappointed
    Well, Fotomoto has a right to a profit and to increase prices as it sees fit. What I find unprofessional is the short time frame with which this change has been made. I have had to load a client event for sale today at prices agreed to several weeks ago and there are clearly still quite a lot of questions and confusion about exactly how the new Fotomoto system will work -- and no time to test drive the new process for my clients -- plus I would have to have taken a loss on any print sales under the new prices.

    Moreover, I have actually been unable to load any new photos into my Fotomoto sales cart for the past week -- not sure if this is Fotomoto's fault or that of my website host but the result is the same -- I am reluctant to use a new service/process for clients that I can't test beforehand and I can't seem to use Fotomoto now even if I wanted to. Since I had to research, set up and test a new PayPal account anyway, I went ahead and tested out some other online sales sites at the same time and set one up for my current event. It has some pros and perhaps some cons over Fotomoto but at least it seems to be working and I have been able to fully test drive it.

    So for the time being I have disconnected all my albums from Fotomoto, although I might have been inclined to stick with Fotomoto given enough time to fully understand and test out the change. I do not sell a lot of photos -- use it only for events where people usualy don't buy much anyway -- so am probably the kind of client that Fotomoto does not mind losing but there some things about Fotomoto and the way it worked with my website that limited my use of it even more than I would have liked. It has always been somewhat glitchy about working with my website -- often unable to load images and you can't really tell the images are for sale in my viewing albums (which kind of defeats the purpose) -- plus the Fotomoto branding was OK for the price but not something I really want to pay more for. I like the new self-fullfilment option but is it really going to cost the same 25% of the full price whether we use automatic or self fulfillment? If so, then that is not an attractive option at all.

    It is possible I could be back after all this is sorted out if it appears the new Fotomoto is attractive compared to the other options out there but the speed with which this has been rolled out -- and the resulting inconvenience it has caused me -- leaves a bad taste in mouth so that I will certainly be inclined to look elsewhere.
    • Derek (Official Rep) October 11, 2012 08:22
      Hi Janet,

      We appreciate your feedback here, and I want to address a few points from your email:

      1. You mailed us a few days ago about an issue with your site, and we responded less than 20 minutes later, offering to help you resolve the issue, but we never heard back. If there is a problem or misunderstanding about how our system works, we're always happy to help.

      2. The new changes are fairly straightforward. If you haven't seen it already, please take a look at the order process document we released. If you have any questions about it, we're happy to answer them, and if you prefer to ask in private, you can just email us.

      3. My simple advice on how to figure out whether the new business model will work for you is to take your average monthly profits, and do a few minutes of math to see which plan works best for you. If you don't sell a lot, then a 25% transaction fee doesn't amount to much money...hopefully you'll find that our support alone is worth the fee.

      4. Regarding how the Buy Buttons appear on your Viewbook site, please note that Viewbook is in charge of the design/implementation of Fotomoto on their sites. You can always choose other site design options to make the Buy Buttons easier to find, or if you have feedback on how their designs might work better to help you encourage sales, I'm sure they'd be willing to listen. Worst case scenario, you always have the option to use another Fotomoto-compatible service that more-closely matches your needs.

      Finally, as dwdallam has been pointing out, we are very unique in what we offer, and personally having seen the new changes, I think it's still a good deal. Of course you need to figure out what solution is best for your business, as that's what you should use. Regardless, I would urge you to be patient for a few days so you can review the changes and evaluate how Fotomoto will work for your business. If you need information sooner than that, just ask us, and we're happy to explain it to you personally.

      Kind regards,
      Derek
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  • I’m frustrated
    This new rollout will kill my option to use fotomoto as I do not have a credit card. Is there ANY way for fotomoto to continue taking the payment as the current system works?

    Very very disheartening as I have spent a month of design and coding time on my new site, I toasted my old ecommerce as I made a choice after quite of bit of competitive research to switch to fotomoto.

    Now all this work is lost and I am back to square one.
    • Derek (Official Rep) October 11, 2012 18:32
      Hi westcoastsurf,

      In order to use Fotomoto without a credit card, you'd need to:

      a) Be on the Free plan because monthly subscription fees currently need to be charged to a credit card, and

      b) Be fulfilling products yourself (Manually) because with Automatic processing we charge the print costs to a credit card.

      We are looking in to the possibility of offering more flexible payment options, but at present this is the only option I can suggest. We do apologize for any inconvenience this is causing you, and hopefully we can still offer you a way to sell prints from your site.

      I hope that helps and kind regards,
      Derek
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  • I’m disappointed
    Despite the fact that I am disappointed about some aspects of the business model change, I understand that sometimes changes must be made in order to ensure solvency. The real issue here is the lack of any meaningful reaction time your users have been afforded in the process. Given the timing of the announcement, the earliest acceptable implementation date would have been 1/1/13.

    If I stay with Fotomoto, how can I trust that sweeping changes like this won't be implemented with almost no notice in the future? Realistically I can't. So unfortunately I am looking for an alternative; Fotomoto is no longer in the consideration set.

    Derek - You were fantastic to work with every time I had an issue. Thanks and I wish you well.

    Bill
    • view 1 more comment
    • Thanks for the Reply, Derek. The timing definitely frustrated me but I will consider Fotomoto as one possible path forward.

      Bill
    • Derek (Official Rep) October 25, 2012 01:11
      Thanks Bill - we hope to be able to help you sell your very cool images in the future.

      Kind regards,
      Derek
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  • I’m frustrated
    I have only now seen the details on the new plans on your website, with the table detailing the newly limited functionality.

    On the free plan:
    No custom logo is fair enough, but taking auto pickup away from the free plan is pretty poor I think.

    On the Pro plan:
    Why do you limit the number of collections? That really sucks, particularly when we have to pay for that service? Any reason behind this, other than just differentiating it from the more expensive plan?

    Generally:
    What really gets me though is the FORCED use of paypal (in Europe that is). I dislike paypal. Not because I had personal negative experience, but because of millions of other people compaining about the experience as a seller. Google for 'paypal sucks' and get a feeling for what it'll be like. I simply have no interest in getting in the middle of some random customer disputing a print and paypal just charging the money back. I thought this is what we pay you for (the 15% before).

    Just to reiterate the general feeling. I understand why you make those changes, and look forward to being able to user other print providers (in the UK), but this just feels rushed, unnecessary pressure on us. Please bring some positive news soon. Our site will go for the Pro plan, for now. But you have lost a lot of trust, and I will keep an eye out on alternatives!
    • view 4 more comments
    • Thanks for your reply Derek, however my concerns about paypal persist. We cannnot use Stripe, because we are based outside the United States. Stripe are very explicit about that: https://stripe.com/us/help/faq#countr...
      I realise payment is an annoying and complicated issue. But getting that right will make a big difference!
    • Derek (Official Rep) October 15, 2012 05:57
      Hi Stefan,

      You're very welcome for the reply, and as mentioned, over time we plan to offer more payment methods (Amazon Payments, Google Checkout, and possibly others such as Moneybookers).

      Since Stripe isn't an option for you, I hope that PayPal will suffice for now, and please do stay tuned for future payment options.

      Kind regards,
      Derek
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  • 1
    I really hate how this works.

    "If you want Fotomoto’s print partners to process your orders, you will also have to provide your credit card information which will be used to cover the print cost."

    Why can't this just be deducted by FM at the time of customer purchase and FM pay the printing cost? That way everything stays in house for returns, etc.?
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  • I just signed up with the pro plan. I understand about the fee increases (although it was sudden), everyone has to make a living and sometimes free just means you don't see how it is monetized. So, paying up front works for me.

    2 things

    1) Paypal vs stripe. Stripe seems to require an SSL and quite a bit of coding just to use it. Or can you just sign up and use it as a "bank?" From what I saw the answer is no. (I think I can't use it with squarespace since they don't do SSL). So that leaves paypal. But I have to agree with some of the above comments about paypal and its problems. One of the things that brought me to fotomoto was the ability to have users not use paypal. I know plenty of artists use it, but the paypal page just feels dinky (very web 2000). I know they have a plan (for a fee) that allows integration but then you have to hire a shopping cart... It was this whole mess that brought me to fotomoto. The combination of shopping cart, payment gateway, and print fulfillment.

    2) Sales tax. I pay it for my custom clients, but I'm not sure how this now works out since it seems transactions will be taking place entirely out of my locale. Am I now responsible for paying their local sales tax?
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    • Thanks, D. I'm finding this all a little confusing. I guess it will be clearer once it is in action. (I did sign up for the stripe account and connect it - is that all? Maybe I'm making this more complicated in my head than it actually is). And probably reading about it when I was having a little insomnia wasn't helping. A really basic FAQ would help with this as I am new to taking on-line payment anyway.
    • Derek (Official Rep) October 15, 2012 05:53
      Hi Ginny,

      Dmitri is correct, and we've got a very simple integration going with Stripe, and it looks like you've got everything set up (I checked your Dashboard).

      In case you hadn't seen it, here's an article that walks you through the account migration process: How to transition your existing Fotomoto account,

      For more about Stripe, please see their website, but in summary Stripe does handle direct payouts to your bank account.

      Last, please do note that as mentioned in your Dashboard, the new model won't take effect until we complete the switch (scheduled for tomorrow).

      I hope that helps and kind regards,
      Derek
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  • I can't believe you people are seriously considering staying with Fotomoto!? First of all the print fulfilment service is now down to you to pay for out of your funds! Anybody wonder about Fotomoto funding, seriously!? Look guys they have no money, why else would they want their customers to fork out for the product cost of a product they are selling - no other print fulfilment partner does this - they are sitting there with a widget doing exactly nothing more than offering you a shopping kart feature for your site and a choice of print partners that they probably get a kickback from as well (if they don't then their CEO wants shooting!) - and you are seriously considering paying them 22% or locking yourselves in with a subscription - utterly amazing!

    It's not like there aren't alternatives if you want an automated service, in the US you have Fine Art America (with Fine Art Europe as a domain setup if you are this side of the pond) and if you are concerned about quality there are literally dozens of printing labs in the UK and Europe offering print fulfilment. Ok you have to do a little more work on the widget side of things if you want that dealt with by your site - but then there are plenty of photographers site hosting services that do just that.

    And if you are an event or wedding photographer then you shouldn't even be thinking about services like Fotomoto, no doubt you have seen the multitude of print labs that will print your work with albums and packages aimed directly at your business. They have hosted domains just for you, with your prints and albums and password secured private viewing areas - that market is covered.

    No, Fotomoto is dead, it is no more, it is a deceased parrot!! Stop trying to put it upright on the perch, it will only fall over again!

    Sorry Fotomoto, but I just find your refusal to realise your business model is no more totally ridiculous (how you can't make money out of just writing a bit of code and setting up deals with print fulfilment partners, well, it defeats me) and cobbling together this win win scenario for yourselves AND getting people to go along with it? Well I'm gob smacked.

    The funny thing is I only ever sold one print, and I presume it went OK as I got paid - so I don't even have a axe to grind - just incredulous really!
    • Yo, you have some facts mixed up, so let me clarify.

      (1) First of all the print fulfilment service is now down to you to pay for out of your funds!

      Answer: If you use Strip, FM takes care of everything including printing.

      (2) they are sitting there with a widget doing exactly nothing more than offering you a shopping kart feature for your site and a choice of print partners

      Answer: Ummm, no. They offer you a way to track your clients with a web based invoicing system. All of your transactions are kept on their servers for future use and tax purposes, marketing whatever. They also do all of the billing for you.

      (3) and you are seriously considering paying them 22% or locking yourselves in with a subscription - utterly amazing!

      Answer: What is utterly amazing is how inaccurate you are. It's 25% and that includes all fees, Stripe and Paypal. There is no subscription. You pay for a month and you're done, unless you want recurring billing. You can get in and out anytime you want.

      (4) It's not like there aren't alternatives if you want an automated service, in the US you have Fine Art America

      Answer: Well, no and no. FM is the only service where you can totally integrate your won website with a full shopping cart--for free. The services you mention are in house services, where you need to have your website on their servers, and you use their templates. So FM is unique in offering a way for professional photographers to seamlessly integrate their own professional websites with a full shopping cart and invoicing solution.

      (5) And if you are an event or wedding photographer then you shouldn't even be thinking about services like Fotomoto, no doubt you have seen the multitude of print labs that will print your work with albums and packages aimed directly at your business. They have hosted domains just for you, with your prints and albums and password secured private viewing areas - that market is covered.

      Answer: Again, FM is not even competing with in house template based systems. This is a unique store in that your won website can be integrated, not a template on a server like Flickr. FM is not a Flickr like site. And no doubt, if you need a professional custom website on yuor own host, then, no doubt, your examples will simply not work.

      (6) No, Fotomoto is dead, it is no more, it is a deceased parrot!! Stop trying to put it upright on the perch, it will only fall over again!

      Answer: Doubtful. There are no other services like FM. Like we've been discussing, and you have been using as examples, if you want a template driven site on an in house server, with little or even no way to customize your site outside of the template options, then there are many options, and they are perfect for those who have no use for a custom websites, or those who are hobbyists and sell a couple photos a year, for instance. But for a professional who needs full control over his or her own website and hosting service, FM is it.

      (7) how you can't make money out of just writing a bit of code and setting up deals with print fulfilment partners, well, it defeats me

      Answer: That's because you don't understand all of the other things going on, such as tracking all of your customers, offering a way to negotiate commercial contracts through their website which act like binding legal agreements, always with FM to go back over and find them, keeping track of your sales, and most importantly-integrating a shopping cart system into any custom website out there. Do you know anything about coding? Try it sometimes and you''ll see why the options you listed are all in-house, and not custom. It's a lot of work getting everything to work with all of the options out there, like color boxes, popups, CMS's, and the myriad of other gallery options you have using your own custom website.

      The main problem with the new business model was that you had to go through a few steps that were indeed too convoluted. One was having to charge yourr CC for printing and shipping and not having an integrated store front with Paypal. With Stripe, you not only have an integrated store, just like we have now, but you no longer need to use your own CC for prints.

      So it's coming along. And as far as the fee goes, well, 25% is a good deal for everything they offer just to see if you can sell any prints. I mean you get to use their service for free. And if you do start selling, you can easily move to one of the pay per month options and cut yuor fee by more than 50%. That's a pretty good deal if you ask me.

      Last, the services you give as examples have their own pay options too. For instance, if you want to remove their branding from your store front, you get to pay them a monthly fee. I think you really need to get yuor facts together before you start trying to compare FM to the services you mention. As professional photographer, I don't want my website branded with JOE'S PHOTO WEBSITE. And if you don't want that either, you're going to be forking out the monthly fee. Go look at Flickr and see how "professional" those things look. LOL.
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  • +1. Especially on the website issue. For anyone trying to sell anything visual, style counts. Putting my stuff up on on a bland template is not acceptable - the field is just too competitive. Ditto using a sub-domain such as amateur.smugmug.com.

    And regarding the money issue - maybe you don't know what has happened in the printing industry over the last ten-fifteen years, but almost everybody went out of business. Many companies that did excellent work had to close their doors because the margins were gone. The fact that FM keeps its lights on is huge, much less has gotten any investment. Printing has gotten very competitive.

    Also, I looked into those other services. Emailed to get info and all I got in response was half-answered boilerplate replies from a robo-server. In contrast, I get real answers from FM from a person (unless there is something I don't know about Derek - he does seem more patient than most human beings so maybe there is something there). Since I have to count on them to deliver my product sight unseen, I need to know that if there is a screw-up and I have an angry bride that there will be a person I can get a hold of to straighten things out (and quickly because my product must be there by wedding days). Not having my art printed on canvas bags and mugs doesn't seem like much of a loss. (I would like to be able to sell sets of boxed thank-you cards with custom printing on the inside however).

    This is why I am staying (and paying) even though I have yet to sell anything through them. But that is on me and my marketing more than their service.
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    see the change log
  • I paid for more capacity in server just to have enough space for fotomoto auto pickup material. But suddenly fotomoto business model had changed and my server expenses became useless. Sad and unpredictable.
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