Category Archives: Guest Author

Still Using Product Photography to Drive Sales? Part II


Today’s guest post is from Brian Seipel, a marking project expert at Source One Management Services focused on helping corporations achieve both Marketing and Procurement objectives in their strategic sourcing projects.

While this guest post is a bit off of the beaten path for SI, it’s a very interesting one and relevant for those Procurement professionals that want to run with the marketing bulls.


Five Ways Rendering will Beat Out Photography

In Part I, we noted that rendering needed to be “as good” as a photograph for organizations to ditch photography, and for this to happen, rendering needs to offer more. What is the “more” that is needed?

Here are several examples of what “more” means in this sense:

  • Perfect conditions – every time. Let’s face it: there are plenty of elements of a photo shoot that can (and will) go wrong. This is especially true of outdoor shoots or tricky products. Think of Breyer’s next “ice-cream-cone-on-a-hot-summer beach” ad. With rendering, you control all aspects of the environment, leaving nothing to chance – bad weather can’t shut down your rendering, and there’s no hot sun to melt your product.
  • Don’t like it? Change it. Another reality of product photography is its element of permanence. Once a shoot wraps, it is over. Small-scale changes may be possible in post-production, but also may incur additional charges. Larger changes will require a costly reshoot. Rendering provides the flexibility to make changes right up until the point you have your perfect image.
  • Rendering goes where photography can’t. Imagine filming a fly-through of the many intricate elements of a watch, with the viewer flying over the watch face and delving deep into the watch’s moving inner gears. Imagine this watch transitioning from a solid object to an exploded view, showing how a thousand individual components come together to form the whole – all while still ticking away and moving in time. These are powerful ways to showcase a product, but creating them with traditional photography or videography would be a struggle at best. With digital rendering, achieving these views is no more difficult than capturing a standard image.
  • Entrée into augmented reality. Just how far augmented reality will go in helping an organization reach customers is still an unknown. However, definite marketing plan synergies exist by developing a rendering that could not only replace a photograph but also feature in an augmented reality app.
  • Rendering keeps getting more cost-effective. To be clear, rendering may still be expensive depending on what work you need done. However, the fast pace of advances in this area have dramatically cut costs to the point where many organizations see a direct financial benefit to making the move. Photography costs are much less flexible – the costs related to studio space, product and equipment storage, and prop warehousing will always be present. Even though photography equipment keeps getting better, staying on the cutting edge of hardware still requires a large outlay of cash for studios, which is passed onto customers in every shoot.

Is Rendering Viable Now?

Given the speed at which technology is moving and just how lifelike the results are becoming, a transition to rendering from photography will, for many organizations, be a matter of “when” and not “if.”

So, at what point is this switch viable? For many organizations, this is a judgment call. For many, rendering can achieve results faster than photography and at a better price point. For others, rendering supplements photography to achieve results that traditional production can’t.

Thanks, Brian.

Still Using Product Photography to Drive Sales? Part I


Today’s guest post is from Brian Seipel, a marking project expert at Source One Management Services focused on helping corporations achieve both Marketing and Procurement objectives in their strategic sourcing projects.

While this guest post is a bit off of the beaten path for SI, it’s a very interesting one and relevant for those Procurement professionals that want to run with the marketing bulls.


Still using product photography to drive sales? Why there may be a better way!

Pictures are certainly worth a thousand words when it comes to products sales, and well-shot product photography is a key aspect of many sales and marketing budgets. Many organizations recognize that those “thousand words” are the least of their worries, however – those pictures are worth a large chunk of their budgets as well. In fact, the higher-end or more physically detailed the product is, the more organizations can expect to pay for a proper photograph.

Any organization operating in the luxury space has likely asked the question, “Do we really need to put so much money towards product photography?” Unfortunately, the answer has always been a resounding “yes” from Marketing – until, perhaps, now. As with all areas of business, technological advances are offering a clever disruption to the product photography space.

Digital Rendering: The Product Photography Killer?

Many organizations are either turning to, or considering a test run of, digitally rendered images to replace product photography. In a nutshell for those unfamiliar, a rendered image is one generated entirely from a computer. Without going too deep into how rendering works, here is a brief overview:

  • The Wireframe: To start, we need to build a model of a product. The wireframe defines the shape of an object by taking a 2D or 3D drawing and developing it into a digital model.
  • The Skin: At this point, the model alone has no form. Typically, this empty “space” is represented visually as a simple set of intersecting lines (hence the name “wireframe”). The skin, or texture, applies visual characteristics to the model. Consider a product made with both white gold and brown leather – two materials that are very visually different. The gold would be light, smooth, and highly reflective. The leather would be rough, rich in dark color, and non-reflective. All of the attributes of these materials must be perfectly reconstructed in a digital environment.
  • The lighting: When a product photo is taken, excruciating attention is paid to creating a compelling lighting setup. Lighting is used to evoke specific emotional reactions or showcase key elements of a product. This is just as true for rendering – lighting sources have to be both created (how bright, focused, and warm or cool the light source will be) and directed at the model (determining what direction light should come from, and how many sources are needed to effectively light a product).

Think about any Pixar movie you’ve ever seen – these are beautiful examples not just of rendering, but also a fair representation of just how far advances in rendering have come. As amazing as they seemed to us when they first hit theaters, early digitally rendered movies look crude by today’s standards. The pace of development is moving extremely fast, thanks to refined techniques, better digital tools, and more powerful computer platforms to run them on. In fact, it is becoming extremely difficult, if not impossible, to discern a photograph of a product from its comparable rendering.

But it isn’t enough for a rendering to be “as good” as a photograph. For organizations to ditch photography, rendering needs to offer more. And it will. How? Come back for Part II.

Give Your Procurement Practice Some Backbone! Part II

Today’s guest post is from Torey Guingrich, a Project Manager at Source One Management Services, who focuses on helping global companies drive greater value from their Procurement expenditures.

In Part I, we discussed how as an organization moves from decentralized/departmental procurement decisions to a centralized procurement and strategic sourcing department, there are bound to be some growing pains when it comes to working with departmental stakeholders and that transitioning to an effective central procurement and sourcing model will require changes. We discussed two preventable gaps that undermine the transformation process and in today’s post we discuss two more.

  • Lack of management tools or processes.

    Procurement needs to be equipped so that once spend and suppliers come under purview, they can effectively manage each component. This doesn’t have to be a full software solution, but Procurement should be setting up some standards so that stakeholders can feel comfortable with handing off pieces of contract and supplier management to Procurement. This may start as a simple Excel sheet tracking contract notice and term dates, and can evolve to full contract management and compliance departments. With Procurement handling these components, stakeholders can reallocate their time to accomplishing departmental goals as opposed to tracking performance and dealing with contracts, SLA, and pricing issues. Having Procurement involved in supplier management can actually help the working relationship between suppliers and end users as stakeholders can rely on Procurement to play “bad cop” and push where necessary without putting the day-to-day relationships in jeopardy.

  • No clear way to provide feedback.

    When a business moves to a centralized model, there are sure to be some bumps in the road. It is key to have two-way communication between Procurement and other business units to continually improve and refine the process. Positive communication (e.g. sharing success stories) is a great to share how Procurement is benefiting the company and other departments (e.g. reducing costs, improving service, etc.), but be sure to also open a forum for constructive feedback. I have seen positive feedback shared through company announcements, newsletters or quick “blurbs” in departmental bulletins. Procurement departments can solicit feedback from something as simple as a quick email survey when projects close or by establishing more formal project debriefs to talk about what went right and what could have been improved with the stakeholders involved.

As Procurement professionals, it is key understand from a stakeholder perspective the challenges with letting go of control and autonomy for project and purchasing decisions. Procurement and executive-level management need to ensure that the Procurement department is being set up for success by establishing company policies and processes that will give Procurement the authority and standing it needs to be truly effective.

Thanks Torey!

Give Your Procurement Practice Some Backbone! Part I

Today’s guest post is from Torey Guingrich, a Project Manager at Source One Management Services, who focuses on helping global companies drive greater value from their Procurement expenditures.

As an organization moves from decentralized/departmental procurement decisions to a centralized procurement and strategic sourcing department, there are bound to be some growing pains when it comes to working with departmental stakeholders.

Two of the main drivers for this are that:

  • Stakeholders are used to making decisions.

    End users and department personnel feel they know what is best to support their needs and may have had free reign in the past to make purchasing decisions for department-specific needs as well as more general categories (e.g. office suppliers, laptops and desktops, IT accessories, etc.).

  • Stakeholders are used to managing relationships with the suppliers with whom they work.

    Because stakeholders are making their own purchasing decisions, they are also typically managing the negotiation, contracting, and ongoing relationship with the supplier.

To transition to an effective central procurement and sourcing model, changes will be necessary within the organization to support the new structure. As someone who has helped clients transform (or build) their procurement operations, I have some seen some preventable gaps that undermine the transformation process and cause frustration for Procurement and the business units they support.

  • No standard procurement process.

    One of the first steps for establishing a central procurement department in an organization is to ensure that those in Procurement are singing from the same sheet when it comes to process. If you have a mix of past (or no) experience, each person is likely to come to their role in Procurement based on their past processes (or lack of processes) in mind. Begin by defining what the standard sourcing process looks like for your company and communicate that process to the organization as a whole. Reiterate Procurement’s role and the stakeholders’ role within that process; the goal is ensure end users are familiar with and are able to embrace the process, not to cut them out of it. Certainly not every project and/or purchase may follow the same process, but having a standard and communicating this to end users provides a familiarity with how procurement works and what the stakeholders can expect. Having a standard process allows stakeholders to feel comfortable working alongside Procurement and not feel as if decision-making is being stripped.

  • No defined (or enforced) Procurement and Contracting policies.

    Many times I have seen organizations start pushing centralized purchasing decisions and procurement support without any organizational policies that establish this new standard within the company. Without clear organization policies (and management support of those policies) for where, when, and how Procurement should be involved in departmental purchasing decisions, stakeholders are bound to continue to work in a vacuum.Any policies put in place should cover at a minimum the procurement process, how and when procurement needs to be notified of a purchasing need, and authorization levels (e.g. who can sign for what, spend levels that require certain level of sign off). Many times, part of that process includes a legal component in terms of who is actually authorized to sign agreements, purchase orders, etc. Many companies employ a checklist or agreement cover sheet that requires multiple sign-offs that may include review by the stakeholder, legal, procurement, and others before the final signature on the agreement is completed by the authorized party. Without a clear and communicated (and backed by management) policy, contracts typically continue to be signed by business units without any Procurement knowledge or oversight. While this may threaten the autonomy of some stakeholders, Procurement and management should be explaining the benefits of this oversight, especially for high value agreements or purchases, and the pitfalls these policies help prevent.

If only these were all of the gaps. These are just the beginning, In part II, we will discuss two more gaps that need to be prevented.

Thanks Torey!

How to Keep Print Costs Manageable — or Find a New Printer if Your Old One Can’t Part II


Today’s guest post is from Brian Seipel, a marking project expert at Source One focussed on helping corporations achieve both marketing and procurement objectives in their strategic sourcing projects.

In Part I, we noted that the printed materials that accompany products are an important part of any business. Yet, despite the slipping quality or rising prices, it is all too easy to stick with the same print shops year after year to fulfill this need, never pushing back, even when the cost savings can be substantial. In our last post, we addressed some ways to control costs without changing suppliers. Sometimes they are enough, but if they are not, then you go back to market.


Taking a Look at New Suppliers

For every good relationship between a printer and customer, there are plenty of bad ones as well. With a long-term relationship, it is easy to hold a supplier less and less accountable — Quality issues may arise more often, SLAs may be ignored more frequently, and pricing could easily become less competitive if you aren’t challenging your incumbent. For any of these reasons, it may be time to start looking for a new supplier.

So, what are the most important factors when searching for viable alternates? See the list below for just a few key criteria:

  • Start your search with shops that specialize in your specific type of job.
    Would a digital print shop be more viable than an offset printer? Are you looking for single pages of print or full color, bound product manuals? Do you have a need for variable-data printing for labels?
  • Evaluate shops in terms of their capacity.
    Is there facility and staff large enough to complete your jobs? Is there enough storage space to handle the capacity you are bringing to them?
  • Keep an eye on deadlines.
    Make sure all shops can describe their turnaround time and on-time delivery rate guarantees.
  • Quality control is key.
    You’ll want to be sure to learn not just about QC programs in place, but how the shop responds to drops in quality and the escalation procedures they follow to get things back on track.
  • Identify distribution centers and map them against your final destination points.
    Other logistics concerns, like multi-point shipping, inventory management, warehousing, and kitting services may also be key to your relationship.

These are all excellent points to cover when vetting potential partnerships, but it isn’t enough to take their word for it. The proof is in the pudding, and you’ll want any shops on your list to back up their claims:

    • Bake key promises into SLAs.
      When shops make promises around any of the points above, be sure to get them in writing. Codify not just the promises made, but also any related KPIs, penalties for not living up to expectations, and a clear plan for escalating and rectifying problems should they arise.
    • Schedule facility tours.
      Take a look around the shops, themselves, and consider whether the capabilities and capacity visible match the company’s claims.
    • Ask for references, and follow up.
      Tours provide a snapshot of what a shop can do for you, but you will need some history to understand if a prospective alternate is a viable long-term partner. Ask about consistency in quality and ability to hit deadlines. Find out how shops perform when something goes awry, and how they managed to fix the issue.


Push Your Suppliers to Do Better

Some printers, recognizing their role as a partner and not just a supplier, will approach clients with ideas for process or product improvements, and recommend cost savings strategies that alleviate budget pressure without reducing quality. Many other printers — don’t.

When was the last time your printer came to you with a great idea to achieve any of these goals? If it’s been too long, or never happened in the first place, now is the time to push them to prove why they’re the best shop for the job. If they can’t, it may be time to see what else the market has to offer.


Thanks, Brian.