With the photo printing sector growing at more than 20 percent per year and projected to be a $1.9 billion industry in 2012 alone, it comes as no surprise that photography communities would look to provide their members with photo printing services. This week Toronto-based Flickr alternative 500px, a marketplace and community for photographers, announced a partnership with Ottawa-based CanvasPop, a provider of custom canvas printing services, to power photo printing for 500px’s members and online shoppers.
CanvasPop, which now has printing and distribution facilities in both the U.S and Canada, will now act as 500px’s order fulfillment partner for both countries whenever shoppers choose to have a photograph printed. “Initially we decided to go with a fulfillment partner in the U.S., at the time CanvasPop didn’t have a facility in the U.S.,” 500px CEO Oleg Gutsol said in an interview. “Since then, CanvasPop launched another facility in the U.S., so what happens now is that customers ordering in the States will get the prints done and delivered in the U.S., so there’s no tax, as well as for customers in Canada, those orders can be now be processed in Ottawa.”
Prior to this partnership, photographers could sell their prints in two sizes, at $199 each, with $42 from each sale going directly to the photographer. Now the site offer five different canvas sizes at the same $199 price tag, but thanks to lowered shipping photographers now get $63 of each sale. In terms of pricing, a regular 20″ by 40″ print on CanvasPop with a 1.5″ wrap would cost $192 plus tax, with free shipping on orders over $150, and costs $199 plus $8.99 in shipping costs on 500px. Orders made through 500px also include the photo licensing, and a digital copy, so while it’s slightly more expensive on CanvasPop right now (the company said they will be adding less expensive options in future), licensing the original image is the main benefit. CanvasPop also offers different printing options, for example .75″ wrap at a cheaper price, so if shoppers are concerned with price buying through 500px isn’t the most cost-effective option.
“It makes a lot of sense for both the users and for us, because we would like to work with a partner that could deliver to multiple geographical points, so not only do the customers get cheaper price points, it also ships and delivers faster both in U.S. and Canada,” Gutsol added.
500px has been on a steady track to evolve from simply being a photo-sharing and hosting site. It introduced an Android app, and iPad app earlier this year, as well as its marketplace, which lets photographers sell licenses and prints. And in July the company acquired Toronto-based Algo Anywhere in July to boost its recommendation algorithm. With this CanvasPop partnership, the company is striving to be a complete end-to-end solution for photographers and photography enthusiasts. However, the company faces stiff competition both from art marketplaces like Art.com, as well as popular Instagram photo printing services including Static Pixels, Instacanvas, Prinstagram, and Kanvess.
Currently the company only offers its print services in the U.S and Canada, but is looking for international print order fulfillment partners to take advantage of its global user base. 500px will also be releasing an iPhone app shortly. With this partnership, and their upcoming iPhone app launch, 500px is increasingly asserting itself as the best Flickr alternative for professional photographers, with a $19.95 annual pro plan and now more opportunities to make money from licensing and offering prints of photos. Making sure their pricing is competitive with CanvasPop’s own pricing, as well as giving shoppers access to the service’s full range of printing options, will likely help increase adoption.
Update: If photographers want to print their own photos through CanvasPop, it’s only $109 + $8.99 shipping, which is less expensive than printing through CanvasPop separately.