Pixelz has negated all of the challenges around photography that we had been dealing with.
CEO & Cofounder
Open for Vintage is an online marketplace featuring luxury boutiques that specialize in high-end vintage and second-hand fashion accessories and jewelry. We provide a beautifully curated website and all of the services needed to sell online, from customer services to logistics, and post-production for photography.
What needs led you to Pixelz?
The type of boutique owner that we deal with on a daily basis is passionate about fashion and vintage. What they’re not passionate about is eCommerce or photography. For us the challenge was, “How do we get high-quality, consistent photography from boutiques all over the world when those boutiques are not photography specialists and are not motivated to do it either?”
We examined a number of solutions, and what we came to realize was that as a business, our specialty and what we bring to the table shouldn’t be photography. It should be helping these guys across the board, and we decided to look towards technology to see if it could help, instead of trying to engage with photographers. That’s when we came across Pixelz.
What do you see as the Pixelz value proposition?
I got an impression of what Pixelz could do from the site, but it was really only when we started engaging with our account manager that we understood Pixelz full value. Not only is Pixelz bringing on board an operational process for post-production of images, Pixelz brings the expertise, Pixelz brings the guidelines for best practices for taking photography. You understood the constraints that our sellers have.
Not only is Pixelz bringing on board an operational process for post-production of images, Pixelz brings the expertise, Pixelz brings the guidelines for best practices for taking photography
Does Pixelz understand your photography process?
Our boutique owners are amateur photographers at best and at worst they’re people with an iPhone. Pixelz got that they are selling second-hand products so there is no photo studio, there is no nice packaging, they have to dress things on mannequins themselves, they don’t have lighting equipment, and Pixelz was very flexible in terms of developing guidelines that these guys were able to use.
As a result, we removed the barrier of taking photography - and there is a mental barrier when you say to somebody, “Oh, all you need to do is take photos of these products.” They’re like, “Oh, my God, that’s going to cost a fortune, it’s going to take a long time, we don’t know anything about it.” When I’m saying, “Well, all you need to do is refer to this document with pictures and use your iPhone,” it’s suddenly a much much easier proposition.
Pixelz were wonderful about helping us to develop those guidelines.
Was Pixelz flexible and responsive to your workflow needs?
We have done really well at refining and honing the Pixelz process. What I would compliment Pixelz heavily on is the flexibility that the company brings to adjust its processes. We’ve refined our categories and the type of products that go into each of those categories and during that time, Pixelz has also refined how it’s doing the post-production or how it performs the post-production service for each of those categories. Pixelz is thinking like we’re thinking, being dynamic, being helpful. From our point of view, that’s extremely powerful in terms of developing a trusted partnership and a long-term partnership with the company.
What I would compliment Pixelz heavily on is the flexibility that the company brings to adjust its processes.
How have you integrated with Pixelz?
Initially it was light-touch and we would send Pixelz a Dropbox of images, you would do post-production on them and send them back. We realized very quickly that this was very valuable, that we were getting the output we wanted, but the process was taking more time than we would have liked.
This is the biggest compliment we can pay Pixelz: we re-mapped our launch plans for the business and we interrupted our development plans to allow Open for Vintage to be fully integrated with Pixelz via the Pixelz API. We re-engineered our process.
We realized very quickly that this was very valuable.
What is the process like for your customers?
If a boutique is uploading product onto our boutique portal, they initially put in product descriptions and product data, and then they get the option of attaching photography. When they do that, a popup appears asking whether or not they need any post-production; it’s a simple “yes” or “no” click. If they’ve selected a fashion item, they then get asked whether they need a 3D shadow or an invisible mannequin. If that happens, they get asked to combine two pictures, click next, goes to Pixelz, 24 hours later it appears in their portal. Post-production done, fantastic.
It’s a very streamlined process. It means that our team can focus on other things, and it enables the boutiques to very, very quickly see results. There’s an initial hesitation when they put the photo up and there’s noise in the background, but now, suddenly within 24 hours, they’re looking at a commercially usable, excellent photograph that’s going to sell their product.
How much development time did integrating with the API take?
It was initially scoped for approximately half a sprint, so about two weeks in development. We took more time than the initial two weeks, but mostly because we spec’d what we needed.
Did increased integration provide you a competitive advantage?
Initially we thought it would just be a simple “yes” or a “no.” Do you need post-production? Do you not need post-production?
We found that because of the intricacies of each of the product categories, and the differences between them, it would be better to take a bit more time at the outset to map each of the product categories to a specification. So if we want jewelry done in a certain way it would map to the jewelry specifications.
That increased the amount of development time, but the result is that we now have a very sophisticated setup and we don’t need to worry about it again. As a business, we can move forward with confidence that we’ve got a really seriously good solution in place that provides us with a very, very substantial competitive advantage.
We can move forward with confidence that we’ve got a really seriously good solution in place that provides us with a very, very substantial competitive advantage.
Was Pixelz responsive to your needs during development?
There has been tremendous honesty on calls with our account manager, moments when people would put their arms up and say, “Actually, I don’t know the answer to this, we need to get our developers involved.” Pixelz has been very dynamic and very flexible at getting people on the call, getting subject matter experts on the call, and working through things with us. It’s been, from that point of view and from a human level, it’s been a pleasure.
...our sign-up rate of boutiques selling with Open for Vintage has increased because of Pixelz.
Have there been concrete gains as a result of working with Pixelz?
There have been many gains. It’s critical for a business at our stage, pre-launch, to make a very, very good first impression on our customers and ensure that as we go live we are looking as good as we can. We also want to make sure we’re making a good impression on our boutique customers. It’s important with a marketplace that it’s not just your end customer that you’re concerned about: you have to always be mindful of your boutiques as well.
From an initial sign-up perspective, when we’re going out signing up our boutique partners, Pixelz has made explaining the proposition around photography much easier. As a result, our sign-up rate of boutiques selling with Open for Vintage has increased because of Pixelz. There is a concrete gain there.
The other gain is around the output that we now have of quality product imagery on the website. I think you would be very, very hard-pushed to find anyone else who is going to be able to launch an ecomm business with product imagery looking as good as ours is going to look, particularly considering all of our imagery is of items that are second-hand and have been shot in a boutique by an amateur. Pixelz has negated all of the challenges around photography that we had been dealing with.
as a small startup Pixelz brings an awful lot of expertise and service, and from a technical point of view a relatively straightforward integration as well.”
Would you recommend Pixelz?
Yes, I would recommend Pixelz. I think the service and the people have been excellent, and in a very short space of time working together Pixelz has become our trusted partner. I would also emphasize that Pixelz brings value from launch. If we were a very large marketplace processing thousands of images you would bring a lot of value, but equally as a small startup Pixelz brings an awful lot of expertise and service, and from a technical point of view a relatively straightforward integration as well.
We are big proponents and supporters of Pixelz.
We are big proponents and supporters of Pixelz.
One of the things we find valuable is the fact that things improve over time if Pixelz is getting the right feedback. Processes take time to be developed and refined, and one of the things we have found very, very helpful has been the Quality Inspector feature. Like anything when you’ve got human beings working, things aren’t necessarily always done exactly the way you want. That’s fine, it’s about how you come back from that, how you respond to it.
What I’ve been impressed with is the responsiveness of the Pixelz team to acknowledge when things haven’t been as smooth as it potentially may have been, and Pixelz willingness to improve that process. There’s no sense of digging in the heels or being overly defensive. Pixelz is incredibly supportive and keen to learn and to develop a better service and product for their customer.
I think from a cultural perspective, that is something really positive to see that’s running through Pixelz as an organization.
Pixelz is thinking like we’re thinking, being dynamic, being helpful. From our point of view, that’s extremely powerful in terms of developing a trusted partnership and a long-term partnership with the company.