Fast-forward a few months into working with their vendor and their mistake becomes painfully obvious: they end up spending tens-of-hours a week emailing their vendor about rejected images, re-explaining their quality requirements through endless email chains, tracking down lost images uploaded to the wrong places and pulling their hair out over not knowing when they will get their product images back.
Outsourcing their image-editing was supposed to boost the efficiency of their creative operations, but instead, it caused bottle-necks, stress, and crippled their creative workflow.
Why do so many attempts at outsourcing go wrong? The reason is because evaluating outsource solutions based only on price-per-image doesn’t take into account all the hidden, indirect costs that often come with poorly-run outsource solutions.
And often, those indirect costs make the cheapest solutions on paper the most expensive solutions for your business. (You can calculate the true cost of retouching using Pixelz Retouching Cost Calculator).
If you are on the market for an image-editing outsource solution, these are some of the indirect costs of outsourcing that are overlooked by only comparing price-per-image.
Poor Image-Editing Quality Kills the Efficiency Of Your Creative Operations
Rejecting images because of poor quality or incorrect retouching requires preparing feedback, resending style-guides, and waiting for confirmation from the vendor that they understand their mistakes. For some vendors, this process can require several days. And every day your teams spends waiting for their images to be ready causes costly bottlenecks that affect your entire creative workflow.
With a company like Pixelz, image quality simply isn’t an issue. We’ve edited tens-of-millions of product images with an error rate of less than half of one percent and have an established reputation for quality, delivering world-class service to some of the largest fashion brands and retailers in the world.
In practice, our proven track-record over the last nine years means that your team can upload images to Pixelz at night and be certain that those images will be ready the next morning, edited to the quality expected by a professional brand.
That is the power of a perfectly integrated outsource solution: it should empower your teams to boost efficiency in your creative operations, saving you time and money without any additional frustration or stress.
Endless, Unproductive Communication Makes You Slow to Market
The quality issues that often plague the cheapest price-per-image solutions are often compounded by their use of the simplest communication tools, namely, email and a cloud file-sharing service like DropBox or Google Drive.
This approach to interacting with customers helps keep their prices low by passing the cost of communication onto you and you team.
This is because email and file-sharing limit how effectively you can communicate your needs to your vendor. For each batch of images you upload, you will need to re-specify your requirements, even if those requirements are identical to those of a previous batch. Rejection feedback will require an endless back-and-forth to clarify what about your images needs to be fixed.
And if you need your images more quickly, you are stuck hoping your vendor sees your frantic email or Skype message in time to prioritize your images. And if they don’t? You might simply be out of luck.
The ultimate cost of all of this waste is not only that someone on your team has to be assigned to handle all that communication, but even worse, you end up hindering your ability to get your images to market.
That is a huge cost to take on, especially in as competitive an industry as e-commerce or as seasonal an industry as fashion. Your outsource solutions shouldn’t be the cause of your business lagging behind while other brands are pushing out new content and catching the eyes of customers.
Your outsource solutions shouldn’t be the cause of your business lagging behind while other brands are pushing out new content and catching the eyes of customers.
This risk doesn’t exist with a solution like Pixelz. We have invested in developing our own proprietary software that makes it easy for you to manage your image files, specifications, and feedback all in one place and helps you get your images to market faster.
Our 'Specifications' page allows your team to easily upload and manage your images and specifications. In a few clicks, you can specify exactly what you want done to your images, from output file sizes and alignment to shadowing effects to product-specific retouching. And you can save those specifications for future batches of images, so there is no need to setup the same requirements for every batch of images.
Need to reject an image for us to re-work? No problem: write a quick comment about what isn’t right and click “Reject Image” and we will get it fixed for you.
What if you need your images in a hurry? There’s no need to give us a call. Just hit “Expedite” and we will prioritize your images and get them back to you in three hours.
All of our world-class software was developed so that we could achieve what should be the goal of any image-editing outsource solution: to improve your creative workflows, reduce waste in your daily operations, and allow you teams to focus on other high-impact work.
A Slow Onboarding Process Causes Frustration for Stakeholders
All of those communication and feedback issues discussed in the previous two sections are going to be painfully obvious during one of the most critical steps in working with a new outsource vendor: the onboarding process.
Chances are, the process of working with an outsource solution will include convincing several stakeholders in your company that outsourcing has the potential to help your operations become more efficient. It is also possible that it will require that you let go of some of your own retouching team with the expectation there will be less retouching work that needs to be done in-house.
And that is going to place a lot of expectations on you to ensure your outsource solution brings the benefits you promised to your organization.
Your stakeholders will be expecting that, at the very least, you and your team are able to maintain your retouching quality and increase efficiency. Your team members, whose friends you may have let go in order to outsource, will be watching with a critical-eye to see if the outsource solution can deliver the quality and speed of their friends and colleagues who were replaced.
Unfortunately, with the cheapest price-per-image solutions, there is the potential for the onboarding process to quickly become a disaster. Onboarding is likely to include:
- Difficulty communicating your retouching standards to your vendor.
- Images being sent back to you edited incorrectly.
- Inconsistent quality
- Rounds of test images
- Skype calls to your provider to give feedback directly to them to make sure they are understanding where they are falling short.
Meanwhile, other teams in your creative flow will be forced to wait longer for images than before. The images you get back won’t have the same quality as when you retouched the images in-house. Stakeholders may begin asking questions about when your vendor will be fully up-and running and you will be left without any concrete answers. And all that combined frustration is likely to cause a dip in the morale of your team.
This an all too common nightmare scenario.
There just simply aren’t that many companies out there like Pixelz. Thanks to our propoeritary S.A.W. System that combines world-class software, A.I. and talented human retouchers, we can seamlessly integrate into your creative operations in a single afternoon. We have built our platform specifically so that you can create an account and start uploading images and get them back within a 24-hour period, without the mess of months of onboarding.
If you want to see how easily Pixelz can integrate into your creative operations, you can sign up with us and receive 10 free images to try out our software and services for yourself.
Your Outsource Solution's Inability to Scale Can Limit Your Own Business Growth
You started working with your vendor with the agreement that you were going to upload around 1,000 images per month.
But what happens if, in six months, you want to increase that to 2,000 per month? Or 5,000? And what if that increase in images also includes a change to your style guide that requires more advanced retouching?
For most vendors, this is going to pose a real issue that is difficult to overcome. The cheapest outsource solutions can’t simply go out and hire additional people to handle your extra capacity. And in many of the places where these solutions are located, finding people with more advanced retouching skills is incredibly difficult.
The cheapest outsource solutions can’t simply go out and hire additional people to handle your extra capacity.
Ultimately, they may try and handle your additional capacity anyway. This will require them to edit faster and to a lower quality standard to meet your capacity demands.
Or, after months of investment in on-boarding and working together to finally get your images right, your outsource solution will simply inform you they are not able to scale to meet your image demands.
This limitation in scalability isn’t addressed by a price-per-image comparison, but the potential cost to your business is huge.
That is why it is so important to compare the capacity potential of different outsource solutions when you are researching different options.
For a company like Pixelz, there simply aren’t any concerns regarding capacity. Our hybrid AI and human editing system enables us to edit tens of thousands of images a day and millions of images every quarter. Once you start working with Pixelz, you never have to switch to another solution. We can handle any retouching task and any number of images you might require in order to help your business scale and grow.
Risk of Damaging Your Brand By Supporting Unethical Business Practices
Unfortunately, there are outsourcing companies operating unethically in efforts to maintain as low a price-per-image as possible.
Even worse, companies that rely too heavily on price-per-image as a criteria for selecting an outsource solution risk both rewarding these unethical companies with new business and associating their own brand with unethical business practices.
And with consumers more concerned about what their products are made from and how they are sourced than ever before, associating with these types of outsource solutions can be detrimental to your company’s reputation.
Working with a company like Pixelz, however, means a clean conscience and a business partnership you can be proud of. From day one, Pixelz has focused on becoming an impact sourcing solution by integrating Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) into the fabric of our company culture. Our hundreds of staff working in Vietnam work in modern offices that look like any tech office you might find in San Francisco or New York with the perks to go with them.
We offer our staff a performance bonus system to reward those who do great work, maternity and paternity leave, paid vacation, team building events and other benefits to make sure all of our staff feel taken care of.
Treating our staff this way is critical to Pixelz’ ability to deliver top-quality to our customers. It helps us attract top talent in Vietnam’s competitive job market, helps us keep our staff turnover low, and helps us create an environment where staff take pride in the work that they do.
Outsource solutions are extensions of your own business and you should be proud of who you choose to work with. It is a mistake to overlook the benefits of working with a company that values CSR by using price-per-image as your primary criteria to compare background removal services.
Ultimately, a good background removal or image-editing outsource solution should be a business solution. It should integrate seamlessly into your creative workflows, free-up your people from doing repetitive tasks, save you time, save you money, and be a company that operates in a way you can be proud of.
In order to find that perfect outsource solution, it is critical to look beyond just price-per-image and instead take a more holistic approach to calculating the total cost of the service and its impact on your business.