I assigned my “technical staff” — this is the same person who painted the Homesote display panels — to start taking pictures of the inventory that is soon going up on my upcoming eCommerce channel.
I’m not complaining, or anything, just sayin’: this is true grunt work, a tedious process, in which each item has to be photographed multiple times under various light conditions and at various distances from the camera lens in order to obtain at least one good result. This is because needlepoint canvas has a tendency to show up as as odd looking checkerboard squares in a picture, which is not attractive looking at all.
Each picture has to be cropped, and sized to a certain standard pixel ratio in order for the catalog to appear uniform. This is not as easy as it sounds, as some/many bordered canvas designs are not exactly rectangular or square, so you have to compensate in the cropping.
Then a copyright notice has to be slapped on each pic — although this is mostly automated through a free software package I use (I would have to write a script to make this bit run hands off). Finally, the pics have to be uploaded to the eCommerce site, re-verified, and hooked up to automated global tax and delivery/return rules.
This is not at all like loading a pic to WordPress.
You have to follow a fairly technical procedure to create a batch load file that contains meta info re your pics as well as URL links that point to the pics themselves which have been preloaded elsewhere.
The entire process involves a lot of patience, a modicum of skill with a digital camera, basic knowledge of Gimp, and familiarity with spreadsheet packages.
And after all this is done, I will have to maintain some kind of (presumably semi or fully automated) link between the eCommerce site and the inventory system I will be using for the B&M store so that I can end up with an integrated financial picture with what is going on with both channels.
So, in view of all this image preparation work, it is not with beaming smiles that the average needlepoint shop owner views obvious examples of where their hard labor has been ripped off by sites like Pinterest.
If needlepoint were a different sort of business, it would probably make sense to formalize this process for one and all.
For example, needlepoint shop owners and designers could pay an extra ten bucks or something in their dues to an industry trade group in order to automate the process to everyone’s benefit.
If there were a central image repository for needlepoint designs, then each store owner would not have to duplicate this costly and tedious process of image management. It would be performed by by some trusted, non profit central trade organization, that would presumably outsource the actual image management on a competitive bid basis.
Many industries do this sort of thing; banking and credit card processing come to mind.
Designers could control the resolution of the images they wish to publish of their work, and assign uniform product codes that would make it easy to for store owners to identify and download the pics. They could also more easily track copyright infringement via Google image search and other means.
The repository could live in the cloud, and if you were a dues-paying TNNA or ANG member, you would get an ID and pwd that would enable you to create your inventory via a simple point and click download and eliminate this inefficient, duplicative process.
Although in the long run this would save a lot of money and help modernize and reduce friction in the industry, this idea would probably never work as designers would be afraid that hackers would break into the repository and steal their designs in one fell swoop.
And B&M needlepoint shop owners would be aghast at having to compete increasingly on price alone when it came to big ticket items.
Designers and shop owners, both, would bridle and bicker about the fee: how much should it be? Should everyone pay the same flat rate? Should it be based on usage? Should the images be linked to only or downloaded? If the hot link model is adopted, who is going to pay for the bandwidth? If I pay more, do I get extra benefits? Why should a newcomer benefit after I have spend months or years paying this new fee, while they get the goods right from the get-go.
So nice idea, but probably one that is dead in the water, although the problems I have just mentioned could not doubt be resolved by committee to ensure fairness and equality of access.
So in the end, my weary technical staff-cum-Homesote painting crew is going to have to spend the better part of the week taking digital images and monkeying around with Gimp and spreadsheet hell.
At least now I can discern one possible inner meaning behind Melissa Shirley’s fabulous design.
© Erin McGrath and Needlepointland.com, 2012 – 2016