Minimum order fee pickle!

frog116

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My proofing is done online with a gallery password. My client logs in, views their images, and places their order online. My shopping cart is set up so that they must meet the minimum order fee (which is only $50 for crying out loud) before they are allowed to complete check out.

However, on many occasions, another family member (such as grandma) is given the password and logs in. She wants to order 1 print and 1 print only. So, grandma's order comes to a whopping $10 and when she tries to checkout she is stopped bc she doesn't meet the minimum order charge. This turns into a phone call asking if she can bypass the fee yada yada yada.

If I don't let her bypass the fee, she just doesn't place an order at all and is left angry. (Why they don't just tell the original client what they want is beyond me. Sometimes it's family issues etc.)

But, you can probably understand the issues it creates to allow grandma, auntie, etc. to bypass the fee but yet require it of the contract holder. From a financial business stand point you all can understand why it's insane to allow them to not meet the fee. But from a personal "trying to satisfy the customer" business stand point, you can see where saying "I'm sorry grandma, you have to meet the fee no matter what" leaves a customer with a bad taste in their mouth. Not to mention, it lost me a sale. (Hey, 10 bucks is 10 bucks).

I used to allow only the contract holder to place orders, but that came with its own set of issues as well. There are so many variables and instances of "my ex husband can place his own order but we are not on speaking terms" etc. that I found I was bending the rules then as well.

I really feel like I am left in this funny grey area and I just don't know what the answer is. What do you do differently?
 

sm4him

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I'm not a pro and don't have to deal with this stuff (Reason #1,543 WHY I'm not a pro...), so bear that in mind with my response.

Here's what I'd do:

Drop the "minimum order" requirement for everyone. Instead, raise the fee $50 to the actual client. Maybe offset that with a "credit" for them to use when ordering to get maybe $10 off or something on the total order.
For the others, don't put a minimum order fee on it, but make the shipping/handling charge higher for totals under $50, to cover your actual costs.

From the client side, I can completely understand why Grandma might not want to just tell her grandchild (the actual client) what she wants and have it added to the initial order. Maybe Grandma is buying them as a surprise.
 

IByte

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Minimum for all and here is why.

The family can essentially go through other relatives to buy photos they only want, and bypass the minimum requirement. Then you're out of some hard earned cash.

Let her do it then explain in FULL that this is only a one time deal. I would give her a time limit of this deal.

Change the policy after(if she still does) that ANY and ALL people ordering there's a 10 dollar minimum requirement.
 

cgipson1

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You can't make everybody else happy without being miserable yourself. Really make the $10 minimum blatant, and in your face (no fine print), and stand by it.

or not.. your call! ;)
 

tirediron

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I like Sharon's approach. Personally, I find minimum orders very annoying (I fully understand why you have this set up however), and I think they are especially difficult for fixed income clients, and people who may not be as 'computer savvy' as they could be, not fully understanding what the problem is. Up-front the fee to the initial client, rebate part of it as a credit so it seems like they are getting something and then when Gran or Aunt Sally does want that single 8x10, they can buy it, you've got your money and everyone's happy.
 

Atavar

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I would approach it from a different angle and do it with shipping. Say shipping is $15.95 or something but free shipping on orders over $50, or some variation of that. People can understand and accept that way better than minimum order.
 

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Get rid of the minimum $ amount on orders, and up the price of your session fee by $50.
 

flow

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I would look at sales and see if you're really benefiting from the minimum in the first place. Do you get a lot of people ordering $55 worth (they're getting just enough to get past the minimum)? Or is it more common to get the big $300 order anyway (people who are going to buy the prints they like, regardless)? If it's the 2nd, I would drop the minimum altogether, and accept the occasional small order as a minor annoyance.
 

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I would approach it from a different angle and do it with shipping. Say shipping is $15.95 or something but free shipping on orders over $50, or some variation of that. People can understand and accept that way better than minimum order.

May not be possible if the OP is using a online printing service that automatically mails the prints to the customer.
 

Big Mike

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Are you fill these orders yourself, or is it a service that prints & ships for you?

I know first hand that it's time consuming and somewhat annoying when a client (or client's family etc) place small orders. Sure, $10 in your pocket is better than a kick in the butt....but if you have to take the time to send the file to the lab, then pick up (or pay for shipping) to get the print...then package and send the print out etc. It doesn't take much before that $10 just isn't worth the effort.

So I think that one viable solution is to increase your shipping charge. Maybe something like a $20 'shipping and handling' for every order. That gives a nice padding for small orders and should cover most 'regular' orders. It may not cover larger items, but if you get 10 small or regular (easy to ship) orders, for every large one...the bottom line should be OK.

Or, as some have mentioned, you could just build in some additional revenue in another way. Raise your sitting fee by $50 and then give everyone free shipping etc.

Yet another option is to raise your print/product prices. If you don't like getting a $10 order...then don't have anything in your price list that is $10. I was at a business seminar by a photographer and he changed his business model so that he didn't sell any prints (or at least didn't list any). What he did sell was 'photo art pieces'. The lowest thing on the menu was call 'desk art' or something like that...and it was an 8x10, in a frame with a display stand.

And of course, it should be worth mentioning that on-line sales isn't the 'best' technique. Most photographers find that they can get significantly higher sales by presenting the images in-person. Big screen, nice music, comfortable scenario etc. Then give them the only opportunity to purchase prints.
 

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I think that one viable solution is to increase your shipping charge. Maybe something like a $20 'shipping and handling' for every order. That gives a nice padding for small orders and should cover most 'regular' orders


Problem with that is people KNOW you are ripping them off when you charge $20 to ship a single 8x10 print. And if they know you are ripping them off like that they are not likely to do business with you again.
 

pixmedic

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we do an online gallery with no minimum ordering.
HOWEVER...one of the things KmH turned us on to that really worked out well for us, (and I was VERY skeptical at first) is in person proofing.
I realize this doesn't work in every situation or for every person. we still use an online sales gallery for out of town family and friends, but for clients that
are still in town after the processing work is finished, we do the proofing in person. the pictures we have picked out go on the laptop and we make a few prints of the best ones just to show some different sizes and how they will look on a wall. we definitely are not the greatest sales people on the planet, but we did noticeably better with in person proofing than we did with just online proofing. Again, this is for clients that are still local after the shoot.
 

Big Mike

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Problem with that is people KNOW you are ripping them off when you charge $20 to ship a single 8x10 print. And if they know you are ripping them off like that they are not likely to do business with you again.
That's a possibility. But when the shipment arrives and it's in a nice box, professionally wrapped and packaged, maybe with a thank-you note included...perhaps they will forget about the shipping charge and just be impressed.

On the other hand, we should all know that it's much better to have clients that won't balk at a $20 shipping charge. We want clients that choose us because they like our style, not because we are cheap and they are trying to save a buck. So it all comes back to common advice...raise your prices.
 

CCericola

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Just increase the price of your cheapest product to your order minimum. If your minimum is $50, then the cheapest item to buy should be $50.
 

Big Mike

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we do an online gallery with no minimum ordering.
HOWEVER...one of the things KmH turned us on to that really worked out well for us, (and I was VERY skeptical at first) is in person proofing.
I realize this doesn't work in every situation or for every person. we still use an online sales gallery for out of town family and friends, but for clients that
are still in town after the processing work is finished, we do the proofing in person. the pictures we have picked out go on the laptop and we make a few prints of the best ones just to show some different sizes and how they will look on a wall. we definitely are not the greatest sales people on the planet, but we did noticeably better with in person proofing than we did with just online proofing. Again, this is for clients that are still local after the shoot.
It was a few years ago when I was reading up on it...but there was a really great discussion about it, on a professional photographer's forum (paid membership required). The technique has been called many things, but the term 'projecting' was the buzz word at the time.

The idea is that you not only show them the photos in-person, but large. Projectors were the best choice at the time, but larger screen HD TVs are a viable option now. The most successful photographers would not only have a studio, but also a sales area that is specifically designed for this in-person proofing technique. Heck, I knew one or two photographers that didn't shoot in a studio, but did have an office/sales area. Many will use their own home/living room.
This allows you to set the scene and tilt all the factors in your favor. Nice lighting, nice music etc. Maybe food & drink etc. You put the clients (concentrating on the decision maker (usually Mom)) in the optimum viewing position. Then you hit them with a great slideshow of images. "If they cry, they will buy"
A big tip is that you want both him & her, if it's a couple or family shoot. You want to take away the option for them to say "I just have to ask my husband".
And of course, you want to limit their time to buy. It may seem high pressure, but sales are sales...you either get them or you don't.

Of course, this takes a good deal of set up and investment, but if you talk to those who've done it well...it increases sales by a factor of 2, 3, 4...even 5 times.

Some photographers will go to the client's home, then use a lap top or projector. This is still better than on-line, but it lacks the impact of a sales room. Once you are on their territory, you loose control of the situation. There are often too many distractions and it's harder to keep them focused. Plus there is the subconscious level of respect. If they think that you are too big and important to come to them...that they have to come to you...they will likely be more impressed and willing to buy.

There is specific software that is made for in-person proofing. I can't recall the name, but I'm sure someone will know.
One feature is that you can easily take a photo of their living room (or whatever space) and then accurately show them the size of a print on their wall. I've heard a few photographers say that it almost always gets them an up sized print size/sale.

An 8x10 sounds (to most people) like a large print...but really, it's very small once you hang it on a wall. So if you can do something to show how small it is, and how nice a larger print will look...it can make for larger prints
 

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