Words - Industry - ImageTx – The web site


ImageTx – The web site

Small, simple but beautifully formed

Researching the options for photo-retailers, when considering the internet route for consumer prints from digital camera files, John Chillingworth met one entrepreneur who has created a software package with the potential to make life and profit margins comfortable for every business on the high street.

With the photo industry, investing time and energy in disabusing the public of the impression that they can only view their digital images on a computer monitor, it is not surprising that the major players, FujiFilm, Agfa, Kodak, et al, decided to offer their retailer customers a means of capitalising on their digital camera sales, with a web-based photo-print service.

Kodak is marketing its worldwide Ofoto scheme, FujiFilm has its FDi Print promotion and the newly formed Agfaphoto division of Agfa UK offers the Agfanet Printing Service. All in their infancy in terms of participants, they are clearly ideas which have a place in the digital future for consumers.

However, there is a new ‘kid on the block’ with a concept, which is so user friendly that it appears to make the competition look like ‘big brother’ on a bad day!

Reading the runes
Before the rise and rise of digital imaging, Imagecare Technical Services Limited, a Midlands-based distributor headed by Bob Sheldon was a small, but highly professional enterprise, which followed photo industry developments very carefully, always keeping a step ahead of developments in the field for which it was best suited.

Because, in the past, Imagecare customers included a high percentage of photo retailers, as well as prolabs, it is hardly surprising that with the explosion of public interest in digital cameras, generated by the publicity machines of the major ‘corporates’, the company has identified and capitalised on the ensuing opportunities for high street retailers.

In his research Imagecare director, Bob Sheldon, found that despite the attractive software offers from the major manufacturers, the vast majority of independently minded small businesses would be likely to prefer to control their own web site print ordering systems, with no strings attached.

With in-house computer programming expertise available, Imagecare have created, tested and now marketed ImageTx, their software package, which does just that!

Asked why his system should be seen as viable, when the major manufacturers are busy locking in retailers to their own print ordering technology, Bob Sheldon explained, “Unlike other systems on offer. With ImageTx, there is no need to download software, or set up accounts to use the service.”

From the photo retailer and processing laboratory point of view, by using ImageTx they have their own low cost, easy-to-use website, which can also be integrated with their own existing sites, if required.
Using this home-grown package that includes an online trading facility and a merchant bank account, the retail customer has a simple, easily understood route to ordering photo prints, photo CD’s, Tee-shirts and all the other options on offer from their local shop.

For the retailer? No commission to pay to the software supplier and no locking into a disembodied system over which they have no control. Instead, there is an initial setup fee and a small annual maintenance charge.

Working with ImageTx
It is never wise to take the maker’s word for it, when it comes to matters digital, so what do those companies who already plan to profit from Imagecare’s offering?

In Dumbarton, near Glasgow, Ian Wilson of Photo-Ecosse, operating a busy high street business, which sells consumer level digital cameras and media cards, has other strings to his bow.

Despite experiencing a drop in photo processing orders to keep his Konica and Photo Me machines busy, they are already printing from customers’ digital files extracted from the cameras he had previously sold to them.

He also has two photo Kiosks, but it is ImageTx that provides Photo Ecosse with the additional source of revenue that is needed. “I was looking for a way of capturing the computer-buffs who also use a digital camera. ImageTx does just that and the simplicity of the print ordering system that fronts as our own web site is a bonus,” says Wilson.

“Bob Sheldon and his son have given us a vision for the future from which, I am convinced, new business will come rolling in, particularly as our publicity in leaflets and local advertising produces results.”
In the Midlands, ICL Imaging’s David White, whose company is well known in the trade exhibition and display field, producing the exhibition graphics on its work hungry Durst Lambda, is already surprised by the joy of establishing an additional profit centre.

The ICL Photo Digital, the new name for the company’s digital printing service, is already serving the computer-literate public and serious amateur photographers with its new ImageTx based online digital photo print ordering service.

“The many, simple to use, elements of Imagecare’s software, plumbed into our existing web site will be a boon. The programme has given us no computer problems – it even produces the invoices and delivery labels - and, after three weeks of testing, we could not fault it,” David White observed, “so when we have decided on our marketing approach to the public, we expect to be keeping our Agfa D-Lab 2 busy – twenty-four hours a day, if necessary!”

There is, of course, the genuine argument put forward by the major corporations, that with their name endorsing the system, it must be superior, but contrary to popular belief, the cost of independence when installing the Imagecare software is surprisingly low.

What is more, taking the ImageTx route, the retailer has his own fully hosted site which can be customised (changing prices, colour schemes, the logo, etc) at any time.

Examining the company’s web site at www.imagetx.co.uk the assurance that there are no security worries can be seen in black and white.

With the system locked into Imagecare’s online payment partners, WorldPay and having been fully installed, managed, updated and supported by the company, the retailer has a winning formula, to help capitalise on the potential of the digital age.

Sponsored by Imagecare

© Copyright John Chillingworth