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eCommerce Pawnbroker Vantage Point : Sam’s Locker
Original post featured on Sam’s Locker’s website here. Sam’s Locker is a pawn shop located in Boise, ID, with a core belief to do right by others, even within every transaction.
We at Sam’s Locker would like to share our experience with developing a streamlined photo taking process to get better e-commerce pictures and a more efficient way of posting our listings onto Craigslist and Facebook, all while keeping in mind our future development of our website store front.
Initially, we were using an android phone because of the abilities to connect to WiFi, post photos online via the Facebook and Craigslist apps, the overall ease of use, and being able to plug it into the store computer for quick upload to our Point of Sale System (Bravo) and eCommerce site www.boisesale.com.
We quickly realized that this is very time intensive, even with a fairly developed streamlined process. When you are processing items with $5-10 markup time, the margin is very narrow and you must find the best process in order to increase profits and decrease overhead.
After a considerable amount of research we found no simple, ready-to-go solution for setting up a photo area for product photos (for eCommerce) when keeping efficiency and processing time in mind. However, by determining our key points/objectives, we were able to find a solution to improve our previous process immensely.
Our list of key points
- An overall better quality of photos.
- Eliminate the need to connect any devices to a computer for transferring photos.
- Decrease duplication of typing product information repeatedly for Facebook, Craigslist and our eCommerce store.
Better Quality Photos
- A high-end camera isn’t needed for product photos, any DSLR will do – we choose to use our Nikon D50 with the stock lens. The key here is having manual settings to come up with a standard configuration that works well in the light set up you choose. I’d recommend going with a low cost camera you already have (you can even pull one off of your shelf), or find one that has a wide lens and good aperture if you have to buy new.
- Lighting is very important to the success of good photos. We choose a 3 light setup from Amazon for under $100.
- A white, gray or solid colored backdrop is important to provide contrast when photographing your inventory item. We had one already that we leveraged for this, along with some white paint and sheets.
- Adding a few mirrors can make a huge difference in the lighting quality. Find out some tips for mirror placement in this article: http://digital-photography-school.com/lighting-with-mirrors/
Eliminate the need to connect your device to a computer for transferring photos
- The solution we were looking for was to have our camera auto save to our computer or networked drive. So the quickest, simplest way to do this was to purchase a WiFi SD card – the Eyefi SD Card from Amazon for under $100 – which allowed for us to accomplish this.
- WiFi enabled cameras may be able to do this same thing, but we found it difficult to find one that allowed us to save directly to the computer instead of cloud storage.
- Coming from a technical background, the idea to leverage computers to automate some of this was absolutely the way to go.
- We decided to use Parse Hub, which requires moderate technical ability (no programming experience), to extract data from our online store. With this data, we could then bulk post links to our product through Facebook and Craiglist, therefore leveraging free marketing. Instead of manually typing things over and over, we now simply run an extraction of the data, then copy and paste it into other locations.
- We are currently working to make even this process fully automated with a programmer, so that as soon as we post something into our point of sale system, it will auto post to all other locations as well. A bit costly to set up, but in the end it reduces time, increases efficiency and we figure after just a few months, it will pay for itself in employee savings.
We hope you enjoyed this quick write up, and as always if you have any questions, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.