Star product: Taopix

Simon Eccles
Monday, March 10, 2014

Software designed for personalised photo gifts.

What does the system do?

Taopix is a software system enabling printing companies to offer online creation, ordering and payment for photobooks and related gifts. Originally end-users downloaded the Desktop layout and ordering application to their own computers. Last October Taopix introduced an Online version, accessed though standard web browsers. Its use of HTML5 coding allows access via tablets and smartphones in addition to PCs. 

What is the target market?

Commercial printers, professional photo labs and existing photo gift retailers. Taopix also targets brand owners wishing to offer photo-related gifts, who can then partner with printing companies. 

Users can set up ‘white label’ branded websites, either for themselves or for their customers. For instance, a sports club could put its own brand on pages linked to its website, but admin and fulfilment would then be handled by the printer. 

Once created, the books and other items are locked in so they can only be printed by the owner of the service. Printers can offer product templates from a library developed by Taopix, or they can add their own. The same template creation tool works for both desktop and online versions.

How does it work?

For the Desktop version the application and a choice of templates are downloaded. Users choose a new project and start adding photographs and text. When complete they click the order button, make a pre-payment and the images are uploaded in optimised resolution. 

For the Online version, customers go to a website and create their book there. When complete, they proceed to the shopping cart for pre-payment. This includes upsell options, such as higher quality paper and accessories, gift cards and vouchers. 

In both cases, end-users are sent an automated email link to an online preview which can be viewed and shared by email or social networking sites.

A securely encrypted PDF job is sent to the Taopix Production back end system, together with a customisable job ticket. The Connect module also allows XML connectivity to existing workflows.

What’s the difference between Desktop and Online?

The latest Online version means instant access for customers and works on a wide range of computers and mobile devices. However, it means full resolution images have to be uploaded before the products are created, which may be an issue with bandwidth limitations or data contracts. It also requires substantial server power at the receiving end. Printers need to run Online on a Windows Server system, with its capacity depending on the volume of work. Taopix recommends using a datacentre to run the server. 

Desktop means the customers have to download and install the application, which may be blocked by some IT managers. But after that, the heavy work is carried out locally and only the smaller optimised image files are uploaded at the end. 

“We believe Desktop is still very relevant for gifts such as photobooks due to the amount of images typically involved,” says Neil Bather, managing director of Transeomedia, Taopix’s UK distributor. “It’s quick to download and, thanks to all the processing being done by the computer, there is minimal investment in server hardware.”

Are there any options?

Options include single or multiple branded storefronts, multiple production locations and language support for overseas customers. There is also the option of localised payment gateways and currency support if customers wish to trade outside the UK.

What’s the USP?

According to Bather, it’s the end-to-end platform, with no need for additional development work apart from the user’s choice of website design. 

How easy is it to use?

End-users don’t need training. The printer end software is designed to be very simple to use, according to Bather. Training can be classroom-based or delivered on site. Telephone, Skype and Team Viewer support is delivered by UK-based staff.

How much does it cost?

Pricing depends on number of branded sites. The Solo level allows a single site; Professional up to five sites; and Enterprise is unlimited. The cost also depends on whether the customer software is Online, Desktop, or both. Thus there are nine possible combinations, with prices ranging from £11,750 to £40,000.  


SPECIFICATIONS

Modules Online and Desktop customer ordering, Production back end, optional Connect XML interface module

Price From £11,750 to £40,000

Contact Transeomedia 0845 643 7490 www.transeomedia.com


ALTERNATIVES

Chili Publish Chili Publisher 4.0

A sophisticated online layout, automatic image enhancement and previewing tool. It can be template-driven for B2C work, or fully interactive. It uses HTML5 for mobile device access. This is not an end-to-end system so you have to integrate it with a storefront and production workflow yourself, or go to a third-party developer. 

Price £35,000 one-off cost, plus 20% annual support

Contact Workflowz 07811 200 611 www.workflowz.com 

Pixfizz Cloud-to-Print

A cloud-based service hosted by Pixfizz. Features include multi-user collaboration on shared projects, mixed orders (eg photobooks plus calendars), ability to link to external image sources and ‘smart ‘ image uploading. There’s support for social media and analytics, while integration with print workflows is aided by XML and JDF.

Price From £2,500 for set-up, plus £4,350 first-year subscription

Contact Pixfizz 020 7183 2457 www.pixfizz.com

Pixami Photo Site 

A US system offered either hosted (software-as-a-service) or licensed on local servers for large users. Royalty and non-royalty models are also offered. The end-user platform is web-based and compatible with tablets. Users get a complete e-commerce system, with delivery of imposed PDFs for printing. 

Price Start-up fee of $7,000-$20,000 (£4,270-£12,200) plus 5%-7% royalty on sales

Contact Pixami +1 925 465 5167 www.pixami.com


USER REVIEW

“We’ve had Taopix for years. We put a lot of products through it for our Smileyhippo service. It¹s very powerful. Now the challenge is marketing, how to tell customers the best route to go down”         

Mark Hipperson Director of 2M Print

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