The whole world is moving towards digital everything. We have eBooks, electronic forms and even electronic transactions and currency. We've been hearing several proclamations of print being dead and the promise of a paper less world. Still, when it comes to photos, you have to admit, there's no replacement for the good old feel of paper. The joy of sitting around a coffee table with family and friends passing around a bunch of photo albums is not only nostalgic, but also much more fun than looking at a computer screen.
Zoomin.com, one of India's top photo printing websites, and the winner of our 09 Web Award, recently went through a revamp. ZoomIn is a photo printing, personalised gifting, and photo sharing website all rolled into one. We decided to put it though the grind and see what it's cracked up to be.
Zoomin.com offers a host of different products, which make for excellent gifts, such as mugs, bags, mouse pads, calendars, t-shirts, and so on. Each of these products can be customised by having your favourite photos printed on them. Besides these items the website offers photo books and regular photo prints in 13 different sizes right from 2 x 3 inches to giant size 12 x 36 banner prints. You can even immortalise your precious memories on canvas prints as well as collages.
The Zoomin.com website has a clean layout and the buttons are activity based – such as 'create', 'shop', 'share' etc. The entire site navigation is displayed at the bottom panel so you're never more than a click away from any feature on the website. Once you complete registration you can upload an unlimited amount of photos which can be shared with anyone. Zoomin.com also features Picasa and Flickr integration so you can even import albums from these services. Simply supply your username and password, and Zoomin.com imports all your data. You can specify which albums to import/upload, but each import from third-party image hosting services seems to create a new album; definitely a bug. Currently support for RAW and PNG is lacking but it is coming soon.
Yea we're obsessed with Quake and Warcraft III
The process of ordering a product from Zoomin.com is very simple. First pick the type of product you want – mugs, prints, mousepad etc. Then choose a photo from the albums and customise your product by resizing, adding text, choosing styles etc. And finally the payment. All creations are stored in My Creations, and can be opened later so that more copies can be ordered in the future. A feature to share creations would've been nice. There are also some designer styles available from IdeaSpice and others for certain products such as invites and mugs. The interesting thing about the customisation applet is that what you see is indeed what you get. More on that later.
The website also features interesting offers from time to time. For instance, the last week of December had the Deal of the Day scheme wherein members could pick up items for a whopping 90 per cent discount.
The pricing offered by Zoomin.com is extremely reasonable. Standard 4 x 6 prints cost Rs. 4 each and carry a flat delivery rate of Rs. 25 for any quantity! A softcover 5 x 7 photo book will set you back by about Rs 495, while an eco-friendly tote bag will cost you Rs. 150. A customised mouse pad (perhaps with your clan logo) is a cool Rs. 225. The website offers various payment options including netbanking.
Service and quality
Zoomin.com offers doorstep delivery all over India and in fact to the US, UK and Canada. The website also assures you of prompt and speedy delivery. We decided to test the service and quality by actually ordering a few products. We ordered an assortment of 4 x 7 prints comprised of picturesque photos from a recent Mangalore trip, and a customised coffee mug. The customisation applet for creating the Coffee Mug was indeed very user friendly. There are several font styles, borders, backgrounds and clip art overlays you can put over your base photo or image. Once our creation was complete we were able to save it for later. Besides the mug we ordered 20 photo prints in both glossy and matte finish. A set of high quality images as well as some that were deliberately low-quality were used. It is interesting to note that while ordering prints the website instantly raised an alert for the photos that were of low quality. Apart from a choice of glossy, matte or metallic finish each photo could be tweaked in terms of cropping to adjust white spaces images that were of a different aspect ratio. Colour correction was also available. We ordered the same photographs both with and without colour correction and noticed a distinct difference in the two. Colour correction analyzes photos and adjusts color and contrast for best results (perhaps even red-eye reduction). The delivery was very prompt. In the next three days the photo prints arrived, which was the partial order, and we were indeed drinking from our Digit Mug on the 7th day. The order tracking system was also flawless, providing information on each step of the delivery process.
The print quality was exceptional for both the photo prints as well as the coffee mug. The paper used was Kodak Royal which is a high-quality paper. Even the low res image came out quite well. As for the mug, the quality of the underlying material (ceramic) and even printing was standard quality. The preview for the mug was exactly as the finished product. No shifting, cropping, or pixelation.
Who's the competition?
There are quite a few websites operating in this space in India. On the one hand, there are sites such as Snapfish.com backed by HP, and on the you have estudios.in, itasveer.com, gkvale.com. The last one is popular photo studio in Bangalore that has diversified into photo printing and sends printed copies and customised gifts anywhere in India. Each of these websites has one USP or the other. Either a product category that is not available with others or cut-throat undercutting on price. Take the case of picsquare.com, offering a customised wall calendar (11" x 17") for just Rs 649 – a size not available on Zoomin.com. Check them out and tell us about your experience with them in the comment section below.