January 18, 2011, 4:57 PM

MyWebGrocer offers retailer clients free access to product images

The web services provider has partnered with ItemMaster, which was formed by a Peapod co-founder.

Bill Briggs

Senior Editor

Lead Photo

 

MyWebGrocer Inc. and ItemMaster LLC announced yesterday they entered a partnership that will provide MyWebGrocer’s retailer clients with free product images and data for use in their digital circulars, web sites, mobile applications and ad networks.

ItemMaster is the braincehild of Thomas Parkinson, co-founder of online grocer Peapod,  No. 47 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide.   ItemMaster, which launched in 2009, was built to manage the thousands of images of the products online grocers carry and information on item ingredients and nutrition, Parkinson says. The selling point for online retailers is that ItemMaster shifts the responsibility—and cost—of managing images and data from the retailers to the manufacturers, he says.

Grocers using ItemMaster so far include Giant Food, Peapod and Stop & Shop. Participating manufacturers include The Hershey Co., Newman's Own Inc. and Perdue Inc.

Traditionally, retailers paid for these product images and data. But under terms of the partnership with ItemMaster, MyWebGrocer clients will now have free access to high-quality product images and greater depth of information about what’s in the products.

ItemMaster provides four elements of manufacturer products: “glamour shots” for circulars, planogram diagrams to illustrate optimal store shelf displays, e-commerce images, and complete product package data including nutrition and ingredients, Parkinson says. “People are surprised that manufacturers don’t provide this information,” he explains. “I became frustrated that there was no central location for manufacturers to upload images and data for retailers and grocers“

After interviewing manufacturers, Parkinson discovered they often don’t have don’t have images or digital versions of the ingredients. That’s because it’s one thing to have product specifications for a digital camera, for example, but it doesn’t make sense to do so if you make a 99-cent can of soup, he says.

Parkinson says about half of the product manufactures he has contacted are willing to pay ItemMaster to develop what can be up to nine images plus product information. The manufacturers least willing to pay for the service, he says, are big companies with many SKUs, which can make the price tag daunting. ItemMaster charges $150 per product to shoot the images with a robotic photographic system, and to transfer the nutritional data and ingredients into a digital file. Volume discounts are available, Parkinson says.

Past options for retailers and manufacturers included hiring a photographer to take photographs of each product, or taking the photos themselves.

Through the partnership with ItemMaster, MyWebGrocer clients get free access to the images and product data, whether they areAmazon.com, or grocery chains such as Dominick’s and Jewel, Parkinson says.

MyWebGrocer provides Internet-based services to more than 100 grocery retailers  including digital circulars, e-commerce for store pickup and home delivery, and mobile applications.

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