One of the replies inspired us to make this photobomb featuring Benedict Cumberbatch:
A bit of Googling unearthed some similarly themed photos where things progressively get worse for the Wildlife Photographers:
One of the replies inspired us to make this photobomb featuring Benedict Cumberbatch:
A bit of Googling unearthed some similarly themed photos where things progressively get worse for the Wildlife Photographers:
Many people use our websites to buy works of art for their friends and loved ones.
But giving art prints as gifts is not straightforward.
There are many potential risks and it’s difficult to know if you’re making the perfect choice:
Is it the right colour?
Will it match their decor?
Will they hide it in a cupboard until I next visit them?!
We wanted reduce these risks and so today we’re introducing the Universal Gift Card.
Our new gift cards come in two options:
a digital card emailed directly to either you or the recipient.
In terms of redemption options, recipients of the Universal Gift Card can choose between:
Any image from our archive of over 100,000 fine art prints;
a personalised typographic print, created using their choice of words, names or dates to create something truly unique.
We believe this creates a much better offer for gift recipients and reduces the risks for potential gift purchasers.
Your recipients are no longer tied to a single shop but can instead browse dozens of unique art collections, each offering completely different styles of art.
Occasionally we are approached by clients who are considering purchasing (or, more likely, being given…which tells a story in itself) a fine art printer.
It’s an exciting prospect, right? Prints produced instantly and perfectly, handed over to hordes of customers, all purchasing at significantly higher margins than might be achieved by using a distributor.
Well, not always.
Printing is complicated. Printing requires specialists to get consistently great results. This means at least some of your retail team will need to be extremely proficient in not just working the print equipment but also correcting any issues that occur.
Your trained staff are a single point of failure. If your dedicated well-trained members of staff are not available on any given day then your entire print operation grinds to a halt.
Print machines break down. Just think of your own office printer and the number of times it gets jammed or causes you problems. Maintaining the equipment is an on-going headache for everyone involved. The drain on resources (and disharmony it then creates amongst your team) should not be underestimated.
It’s an expensive enterprise to set up…and to maintain. There is a sizeable upfront financial commitment to expensive hardware and training, and then an ongoing financial commitment to inks and paper substrates, without pre-confirming your potential demand. These initial and ongoing costs (even when the main print equipment is provided for free) typically destroy any ROI that the ‘theoretically’ improved margins from printing yourself would provide.
Fine art print machines are big. And it’s not just the printer itself, you will need room for substrate and ink storage, the cutting and finishing areas, and so on. Is that a profitable use of your available retail space?
Customers hate waiting for prints. Even the most expensive machines remain relatively slow if the quality settings are set at a respectable levels, and this results in dreadful conversion rates. Queues build up as customers have to hang around the shop
It completely destroys the ‘theatre’. The impression of purchasing a premium product created with top-end materials and processes - complete with associated premium price points of course - is lost.
It creates a huge amount of wasted product. Just visit any museum shop currently operating this type of service and you’ll see buckets of wasted materials from defective prints.
Framed or canvas products are difficult to offer in-house, which is unfortunate since framed and canvas products usually have the best cash margins. Often, in-house print shops tend to sell only smaller format unframed prints for this reason, and any benefit to the consumer of zero delivery costs are immediately offset by the huge reduction in choice. Inevitably this tends to lead to two systems being operated simultaneously in parallel - unframed prints available from the in-house print shop, everything else from us. Hardly an ideal solution.
Increased competition. The aggregation of consumer demand and the proliferation of international print APIs means that there is now negligible additional margin to be gained by printing in-store. In fact your true costs are likely to be far higher and your margins far lower. Our print labs located in the UK, mainland Europe, Hong Kong and the USA deliver a great variety of superior quality products, at lower prices, on a 24-hour service, direct to the consumers door. We do not believe any store service currently comes close.
A couple of shots of the new touchscreen kiosk that has recently gone live in the Leeds Art Gallery shop.
The following emails, reproduced with permission, are taken from an exchange I’ve recently been having with a World War II veteran.
Iain was looking to acquire several meaningful prints:
I would like to purchase 3 fine oil prints from your World War II collection, if they are available.
They are as follows:
For your information, I served as a gunner in HMS Arethusa at Normandy and was on board when we took the King over to Juno Beach to meet General Montgomery on 16th June 1944. Exciting times. We spliced the mainbrace!
I also served in HMS Kent in 1943 and took a convoy from Scapa Flow to Murmansk in November 1943.
I am now in my 90th year and would dearly love to own these prints.
If you can email me an invoice showing cost and postage, I would be pleased to forward you my cheque by return, drawn on the Royal Bank of Scotland, Gordon Street, Glasgow.
What a great email! I was fascinated to learn more and started asking a load of questions. Iain wrote back with the following:
I was a Rangetaker gunner, on a twin 4” gun. If you look carefully at the picture you can just see me! Well, maybe not, but you can see the Spitfires protecting us.
I have unforgettable memories of my service in the Arethusa. We were very lucky at Sword Beach in Normandy.
We were anchored one night just off the Mulberry Harbour at Juno or Gold Beach when a very brave Luftwaffe pilot flew over seeding the anchorage with mines.
One fell just ahead of the Arethusa and another plopped just over our stern, blowing off our rudder and screws; a tug pulled us off the beach and all the way up to a dry dock in Glasgow. I was home again.
I was born 7/6/24: so I turned 20 on the day after D-Day and felt quite a man. Who had so many rockets and shells going off on their birthday? It was all quite an experience. I could not believe the rockets were going up for ME; and how did they know it was my birthday! I stayed with the Arethusa and went out to the Med for 18 months until I was demobbed.
Early on the morning of the 16th June 1944 when lying alongside at Portsmouth, through the early morning mist a bunch of men could be seen hurrying along the wharf. It was about 4.30 am.
It turned out to be the King, his ADC Lord Lascelles, Air Marshall Sir Charles Portal, Admiral Ramsay. Admiral Cunningham, the first Sea Lord(?) Brigadier General Laycock and a few other hangers on.
When we got over to Gold Beach, a DUKW came out and took the party ashore to meet Bernard Montgomery, General Eisenhower and General Omar Bradley who were on the beach. We should never have been allowed to get ashore.
General Rommel had been injured in a car accident and General Von Runstedt was of two minds how to repel the invaders.
The King spliced the mainbrace. Whacko!
Iain’s prints are now on the way to him in Australia.
We have just confirmed our Christmas delivery cut-off dates.
For UK Orders:
We are guaranteeing delivery on all products - on all sizes, all print formats - placed on or before 17th of December, 2013.
Although 17th December is the last date for guaranteed Christmas delivery, it is very likely that orders placed between 17th and 20th will still be delivered in time for Christmas.
For International Orders:
Today, we are introducing some extensive improvements to our service and our product models.
We’re making seven major changes:
Migrating all clients from a revenue share model to a simple, fixed wholesale price;
Freezing our ‘picking, packaging and shipping’ costs on all unframed prints at £5.00 and absorbing the latest 50p increase to our Royal Mail contract pricing (a shipping price which remains 35% lower than our competitors);
Introducing a new lower cost fine art substrate for clients who need to protect existing margins;
Ending all split charging for refunds, replacements, re-deliveries or returns. We will now fund 100% of these costs directly, regardless of circumstances;
Upgrading all 19mm canvases stretcher bars to 38mm (400gsm, 100% cotton canvas) and keeping the pricing identical for all bar the very largest size (a hugely improved product for those that wish to switch);
Increasing the range and variety of our Point of Sale products (whilst freezing prices for the third consecutive year); and
Reducing our standard delivery times across all product options by up to 50% or by 5 days per product.
We believe these changes will massively improve our overall service for both our clients and the end consumer.
Some of our prices are clearly going to be increasing but we’ve worked extremely hard to help counter this by freezing delivery charge increases, greatly improving operational performance, eradicating all post-sale charges in respect of refunds and redeliveries, improving the range of product options offered and introducing a new range of fine art prints to help you maintain - and in the majority of cases improve - your existing margins.
Q: Why are your prices changing?
The simple reason is that some of our prices need to go up due increased to costs (in some cases significant), market pressures and our determination to keep investing in new products and features that we believe will drive future growth in your sales.
New employees have been hired, a new platform has been built, dozens of new features have been launched and thousands of updates to our servers have been deployed. All of this investment needs funding from the small % margin we add onto the prices we’ve negotiated with of our manufacturing partners.
Historically, we have supported an extremely complicated revenue share model resulting in a wide variety of very similar but subtly different pricing models. Supporting all of these different models has now become completely unsustainable as our client base has grown. We need to simplify this area of our business and these new product models will help us achieve this.
We also support a very broad mix of differing client requirements, each of whom needs a product and pricing model designed for their specific needs. For example, some clients are primarily motivated by providing the highest quality products available; some are primarily interested in opening-up access to their archives at the most affordable prices; some wish to make the largest potential profit from sales. Our new pricing model better positions us to support these disparate requirements.
The upshot is that we feel this is the simplest and most fair approach to ensure our clients are able to maximise profits whilst we in turn continue to grow our business.
Q: What are your new prices?
We have sent all clients our new pricing models directly.
For prospective clients who wish to find out further information, please contact us directly.
Q: What do you actually do for your share of the margin?!
We’ve recently written a fairly detailed blog post on the full scope of services we provide for clients. We strongly recommend reading it; our print on demand service goes far providing clients with an ‘order interface’ or ‘fulfilment gateway’.
We’ve designed our business to supply clients with both a vitamin and an aspirin.
Most businesses provide products or services that help you do something better (a vitamin), take your pain away (an aspirin), or help you prevent serious pain at a later date (a vaccine).
We help you sell far more print on demand products that you could independently (a vitamin) whilst our service takes away all the pain, time and costs associated with running the service independently (an aspirin).
Q: When does this happen?
The new product and pricing model will go-live 1st October, 2013
We have been absorbing the Royal Mail delivery increase for several months already and we will continue to do so after 1st of October.
Q: What do I need to do?
Most clients will not need to do anything. Your print options and selling prices will automatically change in line with our recommended new model.
For those clients wishing to upgrade or downgrade their product substrates, or who wish to tweak their retail and delivery charges, then please get in touch to discuss your requirements.
Q: Who can I talk to about this to learn more?
As always, please email email@example.com and I’ll be happy to answer any questions.
The sole purpose of our business is to help you make money from your digital images. We know that if we focus exclusively on this goal then everything else will take care of itself.
Thank you so much for using our software and services and we look forward to many more years of serving you and your customers.
Founder, Magnolia Box
AKA “Why should I use your service when I can buy that print cheaper from my local printer?”
We make our money by adding a small % margin onto the prices we’ve negotiated with of our preferred manufacturing partners.
Most businesses make their profits by supplying products or services that help you do something better (a vitamin), take away your pain (an aspirin), or prevent serious pain at a later date (a vaccine).
We provide both a vitamin and an aspirin.
Our software is specially designed to help you sell more prints than you would be able to independently (a vitamin) whilst our service takes away all the pain, time and costs associated with running the service in-house (an aspirin).
Specifically, the full scope of our services is as follows:
We provide all our print on demand software for free.
We don’t discriminate whether you are a National museum or a small regional gallery, everyone gets the same solution, for the same low price: £free.
Our e-commerce software has been designed from the ground up to help you sell your images as custom fine art prints.
This is a crucial distinction when compared to traditional off-the-shelf e-commerce packages.
It is very difficult (read: extremely expensive and time consuming) to customise generic e-commerce software and elegantly transform it into supporting user-specified, custom print products.
Many clients have come unstuck here in the past before discovering our service.
In short, e-commerce systems designed to “box shift” single fixed items are unable to cope with the variety of size, substrate or product finishes your print customers demand. These systems aren’t designed to support an infinite range of product and delivery prices. They aren’t designed to integrate with a variety of different manufacturing partners. They aren’t fit for purpose and it is easy to squander a huge amount of time and money - destroying any potential ROI on future sales - attempting to shoehorn the required functionality into a solution which we will provide you for free of charge.
All software requires ongoing development and maintenance otherwise it eventually corrodes and performance declines.
We continue to invest the majority of our time and money improving our software, creating new features, new applications and ensuring that you’re always using the latest available version.
One we get hold of your hi-resolution digital images and the corresponding metadata we can then run your entire print on demand programme independently, without further managerial input required from your side.
We provide completely transparent reporting so that you can always see your entire order history, collect customer data or monitor analytics but if you wished to take a hands-off approach then we are a trusted partner that is experienced running print on demand programmes completely independently.
Whenever we launch a new product update, feature upgrade, or app then you will always automatically be upgraded, free from any charges.
It (should) go without saying that we don’t charge clients for server hosting.
If your main website or corporate branding changes in anyway then we will quickly update your print on demand website for free, ensuring the design for your sites remains coordinated.
Your offer will continue to evolve over the course of our partnership. You will want to introduce new images, set-up new exhibitions and refresh your online marketing to highlight these changes.
We are happy to design all the creative for these marketing campaigns and to implement all changes, for free of charge, as soon as you’ve signed-off the creative.
There’s no need for insourcing or paying for external designers, we take care of everything in house, for free.
We fund all merchant services and payment processing directly, ensuring your margin isn’t eroded by incidental additional costs.
We have been supplying high quality fine art prints for over 7 years. It’s taken a long time but we now have a huge amount of domain expertise about the best print substrates, the best print machines, the best product options, purchasing prices, sizes and selling prices.
We have acquired a huge amount of data (from 100,000+ orders and millions of web visitors) to substantiate our recommendations. We are domain experts and we know from experience that our solutions and service will help you generate more sales than you could expect to achieve independently.
We collate all our clients orders, across all our different websites, helping everyone to benefit from our economies of scale.
This allows our clients to source extremely high quality products at much lower prices than they would be offered directly.
We acknowledge it’s possible to put ink on a piece of paper for a lot less than we charge.
You can buy a 6x4” photo print for as little as 3p online.
We aren’t operating in this space, we’ve no desire to compete here and we don’t think you should either. We don’t want to mass produce cheap prints using large format digital printers. We won’t ever sacrifice the quality of your finished products in order to make a few extra percentage points of margin.
This means we’ve invested a huge amount of time sourcing the world’s best fine art printers; ensuring we only supply your customers with the very highest quality products. It’s for this reason that we’re continually inundated with a huge amount of positive feedback.
Our order volumes enable us to negotiate extremely competitive domestic and International shipping rates.
Many suppliers inflate their true cost of shipping, helping the cost prices of their products appear cheaper in comparison or simply increasing their overall margin.
We don’t inflate our shipping prices, passing it on at cost and even subsidising pricing when it turns out to be higher than our published rates.
Any printer can provide a great print as a one-off, the real test comes in consistently providing exceptional prints to every single customer. Over the years we’ve learned which fine art printers continually delight the end consumer and which frequently fail to impress.
We collate feedback from customers, continually looking to address any issues that might occur and closely monitor each of our suppliers to ensure that every one of your print is produced to the same standards when originally sampled.
We manually crop your image files and pay for all professional repro work to ensure the best reproduction results are achieved with every print.
This work is highly specialist and expensive but is included where required without charge.
We pay for all product samples and all colour match proof samples, without passing on any of these ongoing expenses.
Our customer service team deals with every single customer service call, email and enquiry.
We provide 24/7 email and call centre support to all clients without charge.
Your customers can contact our call centre at anytime of the day and our specialist customer service team or answering service ensures their queries are handled instantly and professionally.
We have one of the most popular art websites in the UK and partnering with us immediately provides direct access to all these potential customers.
We work extremely hard on search engine optimisation to ensure the traffic received by our site continues to grow. We also run pay per click (PPC) campaigns to market your images without passing on any of these costs. Crucially, we don’t differentiate in terms of the profit you earn from an order that originated on your own online store or one of ours; you always earn the same profit regardless of where a transactions took place.
We’re continually testing new products, new print options and new partners to ensure your digital assets are working as hard possible.
We’re completely focused on helping our clients be as successful as possible selling physical reproductions of their digital images. This means not only must our software evolve but also our product options, sizes, substrates and finishes. Actively evolving the product offer is a core part of our service to ensure your images are always working as hard as they can.
We absorb all costs for any refunds, replacements, re-deliveries and returns.
We’re so confident about the quality of our products and the service we’ve designed to fulfil them that we no longer pass on these additional costs to our clients.
If there’s any problem with the delivery of a product then we will absorb 100% of these costs directly ourselves.
“There are two kinds of startups: the ones that achieve some modest traction on top of a pile of code of which they are vaguely ashamed and the ones that go out of business.