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Who wants to print photos any more when digital platforms are so convenient? A lot of people it seems. The photo printing market was valued at US$14,769.9 million in 2019 and is expected to reach US$27,335.3 million by 2027.1
Why such a resurgence of interest in the printed picture? One of the most significant changes is the rise of the photobook. These easy-to-create documents are used by professionals and everyday photographers to celebrate and capture memories including birthdays, holidays and anniversaries.
CEWE, Europe’s largest provider of photo printing services is one of the largest players in the photobook sector. It has successfully adapted to the dominance of smartphone photography (88% of all pictures are now taken on a smartphone2) and offers printing as an online branded service via many retailers across Europe. Many of these house CEWE Photostation kiosks in their stores.
“We successfully adapted to the switch from analogue to digital photography,” says Dr. Reiner Fageth, Member of the Management Board at CEWE responsible for Technology, Research and Development. “Now we want to sustain growth in a world where smartphones are the device of choice for most consumers, while others continue to use more advanced compact and DSLR cameras.”
As part of its long-term strategy in this fast-changing environment, CEWE has deployed Superhuman Vision™ from Mobius Labs. This advanced computer vision AI software enables customers to categorize and select their photos more easily via CEWE myPhotos where their photos, videos or projects are available at any time.
The choice of Mobius Labs AI-powered software answers two fundamental challenges facing the business. First, how do you motivate consumers to select the best photos and organize them into a printed gift? Second, how do you ensure that the storage and tagging of photos complies with the data protection laws including GDPR?
“Our customers are taking more and more photos every year,” says Fageth. “Thanks to the incredible software and lenses on the latest smartphones these pictures are a massive step forward in terms of resolution and composition from ten or even five years ago.”
The challenge comes when you have to sift through potentially thousands of photos at the end of the year to create a gift for your loved ones. Mobius Labs AI software makes this simpler by automatically tagging photos uploaded to CEWE myPhotos so that customers can quickly search and organise their images into collections and import them into a CEWE PHOTOBOOK from a pocket sized album to a luxurious coffee-table hardback. The 15GB free online storage memory is particularly useful when several people are working together: collections can be created and shared, allowing them to pool their photos.
Fageth says, “Photobooks are an ideal way for people to share memorable events and moments. By assembling them automatically, customers can see how great they look on the page and place an order immediately.”
The Mobius Labs software implemented in CEWE myPhotos comes preloaded with thousands of tags, including abstract concepts such as emotions and actions, as well as physical objects. It also includes facial recognition as well as aesthetic ranking models which identify the best content in a collection.
In addition to this ‘out of the box’ tagging, the Mobius Labs software development kit (SDK) enables non-technical users at CEWE to train new classifiers based on a relatively small number of images, typically 20 positive and negative examples. This gives CEWE an advantage in the race to classify images in a way that satisfies the fast-evolving tastes of consumers.
All this means that there are more opportunities to upsell a photobook by automatically suggesting collections of photos around a particular date, event, or location. This enables CEWE to trigger interest around other life events from holidays to birthdays - not just Christmas presents. “With Mobius Labs we can help customers separate higher quality and relevant images from the ones that they might only share on social media,” says Fageth.
The other advantage of Mobius Labs is that it enables CEWE via CEWE myPhotos to store all customer photographs and data on premise in a secured data center in Germany. This enables it to comply with GDPR and also give customers the peace of mind that their images won’t be shared with a third party.
It also means that CEWE can guarantee the quality of the connection with its customers. If your service depends on the data transfer speeds between cloud and client, how do you ensure a consistent, split second response to a search query? Any delay or break in service risks both income and long-term customer loyalty.
CEWE also goes so far as to publish a ‘customer code’ on its website which lays out in detail how computer vision is used on their websites and the options available to customers when it comes to activating or deactivating these features.
Fageth also stresses the importance of working with a smaller dedicated team. “We always feel that CEWE is a number one priority for Mobius Labs. They always listen to our requirements and as the market and technology evolves, we have complete confidence that they will continue to match their software with the needs of our customers.”
Finally, Fageth is keen to stress the importance of the customer experience when they organise their photographs via CEWE myPhotos and assemble a CEWE PHOTOBOOK. “We understand how photography helps build and strengthen relationships. Thanks to Mobius we are making it simpler and more enjoyable for customers to share their memories with loved ones in the form of a physical photobook.”