The battle of the online photo printers
Snapfish versus Shutterfly
I do have a love of photography and I think one of the great things about photography is the actual print. It is funny how people work. We have all this technology and IPads and photo frames but we still love a good photo book of our family and special occasions. I am approaching both sites as if I want to go ahead and create a book of my own.
Shutterfly at first blush is a lot to take in. They have a very busy site but it seems like they feel like they need to show you that they can do it all. They have a great happy color scheme and there imagery is very child centric. Right off the top it is as if they read my mind. Photo Books are everywhere on the main page. There must be at least 3 or 4 links to printing books. The other thing I noticed off the top it looks like it is easy to sign up with a brief form and I will get 50 free prints. As a potential customer I can tell you I would try them out. I think these sites are great because they lure you in with the free prints but once you are on their site they have you because they give you a great place to store photos.
Snapfish has more of a toned down entrance with not as much clutter. They do have a very friendly flash animation to start off that has a playful fish. I think that is telling me that they are mom or grandma focused because of the cuteness and all the child pictures. I end up finding a link to the product I am looking for. I did notice they offer a similar deal but not as lucrative as Shutterfly. They also do not have the form right up front but you have to click through to begin filling it out. They basically gave up an easier route of signing people up for a cleaner look.
Clicking on the book:
I then clicked on the book on Shutterfly and landed on a very graphical site that basically provided me with two directions. The first was a simple path and the other was a custom path. But that is it… They have very limited examples for me to choose. But as I delve deeper into the process I notice that they are taking me step by step through the process. It actually becomes extremely simple for me to navigate and for me to choose what I want. One thing I thought was great was the integration they have right into your Facebook photo library. Once I chose the size of my book I began to upload my images which were a little slow to load but once it came up it was easy to interface with. I would say their overall process is geared towards a novice user because the directions are clear and simple and there are not too many options to complicate the process.
As I clicked through on Snapfish I found myself on a long page full of lots of different types of books. The variety of books far surpassed that of Shutterfly but it becomes a little more difficult to choose what I want with all of the options. The prices seem actually higher as well. One thing they do have to make my life a little easier is basically an easy button. They have something called Express Photo Books which removes most of the possible options and gets right to the point. It is obvious at this point I fall into their focused audience of books and that is young couples with kids. I do not see the facebook integration but they do have a way I can chat with one of their customer service employees.
Overall I think it is interesting how at first look they were very much the same but as you take a good look at their operations they both have different approaches to their customers. Shutterfly had the appearance of providing a more affordable product and allowing you to create it pretty fast by limiting your options. Snapfish was a little pricier but you get to customize the product a little more to make it your own. So we can see how they are differentiating themselves from each other in order to gain advantage. I would say they both use the same strategy at keeping their customers. They offer you a lot of free swag in order to get you in because they feel that once they have you it becomes a lot more difficult for you to leave and go to their competition.