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October 2010

We love October! October kicks off the end-of-the-year-mad-dash-for-prints-three-month-print-buying-marathon! Throughout the months of October, November, and December, more prints are sold than during any of the other months in the year, with each month getting successively busier.

To help you make the most out of these awesome holiday months, we have been busily working behind the scenes adding additional storefront functionality and improving the quality of your images. So what exactly have we done? Well, you're going to have to read the newsletter to find out!

New and Modified Functionality

Print Sets in Products

Many people have found that offering products containing user-selectable prints is a very popular option with their customers, and they have created products such as albums, collages, multi-print packages, and bulk discounts using this ability. Seeing how popular the user-selectable prints option has become, we wanted to take it a little further and make the option even more flexible and accessible to everyone. So, without further ado, we happily announce that in addition to standard print sizes, you can now also add print sets to your products!

So what exactly does this do for you? Quite a bit, actually! For example, you can now offer packages containing multiple instantly downloadable images. Or, you can offer a product containing loose prints AND instantly downloadable images. Or, you can offer a product that includes multiple canvas prints. Or, a t-shirt and a mug combination pack, etc. Basically, this change opens up your product creation possibilities to an almost unlimited amount. Enjoy!

Print Sets in Products

Scheduled Invoice Reminders

Another option that has become increasingly popular is invoicing. Through the invoicing system you have been able to create invoices and then immediately email those invoices to your clients. Although this basic functionality has worked out fairly well for many people, we thought it was about time for a little bit of an upgrade. So, starting today, we have added invoice scheduling and reminders. The way that scheduling and reminders works is very simple: create the invoice as you normally would, and at the bottom of the form enter a reminder/scheduled date. On the morning of the selected date, an email containing a link to the invoice will be sent to the email address(s) associated with the invoice.

You can use this new option to create and schedule invoices in advance (payment plan invoices, for example), or you can use the selected date as a reminder for your clients that you may have already emailed. If the invoice hasn't already been paid by the selected date, the email will be sent automatically, and if the invoice has been paid, no reminder will go out.

Scheduled Invoice

Custom Cropped Images - Update

We originally announced custom cropping in August, and since that time we have made a few enhancements to the site that makes selecting crops easier for your clients, and helps you more quickly view the cropped information. The changes that were made include:

Image Quality

Improved Image Quality

Those of you following us on Twitter are already aware of this change, but to everyone else, we are happy to announce that the image quality on your Instaproofs storefront has been significantly improved! With the changes that have been made, jpg compression artifacts are reduced (virtually eliminated) and the clarity and sharpness of the images have been dramatically improved. Having your images display as clearly as possible is one of our primary goals here at Instaproofs, and we believe these changes bring us one step closer to perfection in that area.

Although we do all that we can to help ensure that your images are displayed as nicely as possible, there are two things that you can do as well:

Step 1) Ensure that the images you are uploading are sized correctly. The images that we store on our servers are limited to 1280px on their largest side; images uploaded larger or smaller than this are resized to fit these dimensions before we use them on the storefronts. Although uploading images larger than our recommended size (1280px on the largest side) will not negatively affect your images, it will cause your upload time to be significantly longer than it needs to be. On the other hand, uploading images smaller than 1280px will negatively affect your images since the pixels will need to be stretched before being used.

In our efforts to increase the image quality on our storefronts, we randomly took the measurements of 250,000 images as they were uploaded, and we were a bit surprised by the results. Over 60% of the images being uploaded are smaller than our recommended size! Out of the 60% being uploaded that are too small, here is how the uploaded sizes break down:
Image Upload Size
As you can see from the chart above, many people are uploading images that are much too small to be used effectively on their storefronts. If you happen to be someone that uploads images smaller than 1280px on the largest side, we highly recommend that you change that practice.

Step 2) Make sure your images are uploaded with an sRGB color profile. Many of the still-popular web browsers ignore color profiles entirely, and saving your images with a non-standard profile can result in a fairly large color-shift when they are viewed in any of those browsers. Here is a short article explaining this in a little more detail: Color Profiles on the Web

News and Helpful Information

November's Discounted Weekend

The first weekend in November is a discounted fee weekend! What this means is that from November 5th through November 7th, all orders placed through your storefront will have their fees reduced from our normal 15% to just 6%! If you were planning on putting on a sale to help get the holiday orders flowing, this might be a great opportunity for you to do it.

Custom Storefront Contest

Ever since we announced the ability to customize your storefront CSS files, many people have decided to give it a shot. Some people have changed their background colors, some have changed their buttons and text, and some have even managed to change their logo sizes and some of the layout of their images. We have loved seeing the customizations being made!

Because we have enjoyed seeing the custom storefronts so much, we have decided to hold a custom storefront contest! Prizes will be awarded for the three storefronts that are:

We will be accepting storefront URL submissions up until Thanksgiving Day, and the winners will be announced on December 1st. The prize for the “most originally designed” and the “most fully customized” storefronts will be $50 American Express gift cards, and the prize for the “best overall design” will be a $100 American Express gift card!

Submitting your storefront to this contest is simple: once you have your customized storefront looking the way you would like it, shoot an email to contact@instaproofs.com and let us know that you are ready for us to take a look. Since there is more than a month before the contest is over, go ahead and take some time to make your storefront look its best! Good luck to everyone!

Avoiding and Disputing Chargebacks

With an increased number of orders coming in throughout the holiday season, an increased number of chargebacks generally come in as well. Avoiding and disputing chargebacks is a relatively simple thing to do, and by following these common-sense tips you should be able to get out of any chargeback that might come your way:

  1. Always, always, always, ship with delivery confirmation. This is the single most important thing you can do if you would like to be able dispute chargebacks submitted against your company. If you don't use delivery confirmation, there is no way for you to prove that your clients have actually received their orders, and without proof of delivery you will lose the dispute. Don't just do this during the holiday season; make it a regular business practice.
  2. If your clients pick up their orders from your studio, require a signature from them stating that they have received their order and that everything is correct in it. The signatures from your clients will work in place of delivery confirmation receipts, and that in turn will make disputing chargebacks a fairly trivial procedure.
  3. Ship your orders quickly. Our service agreement states that all orders must be shipped within a three week time period, but the quicker you can get them out the better. Some people get nervous if they haven't received their orders within a couple of weeks, and they get especially nervous as Christmas looms ever nearer. To avoid chargebacks resulting from non-receipt of merchandise, ship your orders as quickly as possible.
  4. Double-check your order details, and package your prints correctly. Shipping your orders quickly (with delivery confirmation) is a great way to avoid most chargebacks, but occasionally chargebacks come in due to incorrect prints being shipped and prints being damaged during delivery. Before each order is sent out do a quick double-check to ensure that the correct prints are being sent, and that everything is packaged in a way that protects the images during delivery. For example, large prints can be rolled into shipping tubes, and smaller prints can be packaged with cardboard inserts or placed in small boxes to help them avoid being damaged.
By following these four simple suggestions, chargebacks can be virtually eliminated for you and your company. Fewer chargebacks also means a larger number of satisfied customers, and a larger number of satisfied customers means potentially more business.

Conclusion

Good luck to you through this upcoming holiday season! If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to shoot us an email and let us know.


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Richard Photo Lab

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It's a Girl!

Congratulations to Instaproofs' president, Adam Ellis, on the recent birth of his beautiful little girl!

Lily Anne Ellis