Both social networks today announced new tools that let e-retailers drive sales directly from their platforms.
An online photo management system lets resellers quickly get the photos they need.
Prana, a manufacturer and e-retailer of yoga apparel and accessories, sells its products through a global network of store and online retailers, many of which ask the company to provide photos and product data to help them sell Prana merchandise. Until last year, whenever a reseller requested photos, Prana could either send photos one by one, or send a massive file downloaded from its content management system that contained high-resolution images of all the product photos available for the season. Because the content management system did not support it, the photos in the file didn’t contain any data that identified the products in the photos, such as a SKU number or product description.
This meant that either a Prana staffer had to locate, download and send individual files to the reseller, or the reseller had to sort through upward of 1,700 photos available for 750 products to find the ones they needed. Both options were time-consuming and frustrating, says Patrick Duffy, lead software engineer for Prana. “The ability to quickly grab a selection of images was nonexistent. There was no quick turnaround,” he says.
In 2010, a Prana reseller told Duffy about Shotfarm, a free photo management system that acts as a photo repository for manufacturers. Using Shotfarm, manufacturers can upload their product photos to Shotfarm’s system and issue retailers invites that grant them access to the files so they can browse and download the ones they want.
Prana decided to give it a try. Duffy says he sent the photo files for that season’s merchandise to Shotfarm on DVD and the vendor uploaded them to the system so Duffy could see how it worked. Duffy says he was pleased with how resellers could choose the images they wanted without having to download all the files. Using the intermediary also freed up time for Prana’s staff because they didn’t have to answer individual retailer requests for photos. “But what I consider even more important is the lack of negative feedback,” says Duffy. “With our old system, reps and dealers were constantly asking for assistance in finding things. That has completely stopped.”
Duffy now uploads Prana’s photo assets each season, which he says takes a couple of hours. Prana can also upload individual new or revised photos throughout the selling season, something it could not do with its prior system without reloading the entire season of photos. Prana also fills in description fields included in the Shotfarm program so the product photos files contain the most relevant identifying information, such as which season the product belongs to, the style number, SKU, color and web link. This additional information helps resellers locate the photos they want without sorting through the whole collection. 45 of Prana’s resellers now snag product photos from the Shotfarm system, and Duffy says he expects the rest of its resellers to begin using it soon.