Shutterfly.com: Nice Merchandise and Photos, But Can You Tolerate the Wait?
Jan 21, 2009
|Site Ease of Use:
We take plenty of pictures in our household and while most of our pictures are sent directly to the pc for storage and/or immediate printing, we have also added pictures to several of the many different web sites that exist for photo organization, sharing, and accessories. One such site we have used but haven't been very impressed with is Shutterfly.com, a photographic web site.
What Does This Site Have to Offer?:
Shutterfly.com offers products and services such as:
Photo Gift Store
Photos can be uploaded into Shutterfly.com and shared with individual people or with the community as a whole. Members can also create calendars, photo albums, and other products with their pictures. A visit to the store section will reveal even more items that can be created and purchased through Shutterfly.com, like mugs, jewelry, shirts, and other items- all with your favorite photos displayed on the item.
Shutterfly.com accepts Visa, Mastercard, Discover, and American Express for payment. They also accept a personal check or money order, but if either of these latter methods is selected, the merchandise will not ship until the payment has been received and processed.
Shutterfly.com offers multiple shipping options like Next Day, Second Day, Priority, and Standard. They also ship to Canada and to international addresses, but these shipping times will take many days longer than the four options above. Shipping rates at Shutterfly.com vary widely and so do shipping times. Only the Next Day and Second Day options offer guaranteed delivery.
Shutterfly.com is one of several photo web services that we use in our household to download, edit, organize, and share photos. I first got word of Shutterfly.com many years ago when I received an e-mail link and special offer to visit the site. We setup an account, downloaded pictures, and began to partake in some of the many different services offered by the site. We setup a couple of different photo albums in the "My Photos" section of the site and used the different tools offered by Shutterfly.com to edit and organize the pictures around common themes.
Shutterfly.com offers a means to download pictures and it's nice to be able to construct a photo album for different people and send them a set of pictures. Many people will likely use Shutterfly.com at first for exactly this purpose. You can setup albums for, say, grandparents or for birthdays, or for vacations. You can then share these photos with other Shutterfly.com members or with other outside people who are not members. If a photo set is sent to a non- Shutterfly.com member, it will let the person view the photos and them try to persuade them to make a purchase. This is great for grandparents and others who can't get enough pictures of their grandchildren and like the idea of being able to order sets of pictures at their leisure.
Shutterfly.com is a very simple site to use and it steps you through the process of selecting exactly what you want. The site is intuitive and we have used it for creating calendars and other items. It is fairly easy to define what you want, but there are some problems with Shutterfly.com that make it more frustrating than it's worth. The quality of the prints is good, but the problem with Shutterfly.com is the amount of time it takes to upload the pictures. It can take more than a minute per picture and this, alone, will cause many potential users/buyers to give up early in the process. Also, once the pictures are downloaded, it can take equally long to transfer them to a specific project. For example, say you have a large set of photos downloaded to Shutterfly.com and now you want to create a calendar. The pictures then have to be transferred to the project and this can, again, take more than a minute per picture.
On the positive side, Shutterfly.com does have lots of different items of merchandise from which to select. You can have your favorite photos added to a notebook, to a magnet, to address labels, to stickers, to puzzles, etc. Some of these make great, personal gifts for those who want to remember a specific person or event and a gift like this will often be cherished for years and years. If one photo is involved (for example, having a single picture added to a coffee mug), the process is fast and simple. It's when you want multiple pictures added to a project (like with a calendar) that the process gets too lengthy and pushes your patience to the limit.
Prices at Shutterfly.com are not too bad, but they tend to be slightly higher than those at other photo web sites. Setting up an account and sharing photos costs nothing. The only time cost comes into play is if you decide to make a purchase of a photo album or some other item of merchandise. It is nice that Shutterfly.com offers so many different payment and shipping options, but that doesn't mean you can expect your shipment in a short period of time. If you select next day or second day shipping, the shipment carries a guarantee. If you select anything else, the shipment is not guaranteed and it can take more than two weeks to receive your product in the mail.
Overall, Shutterfly.com is a good site for downloading and sharing photos and a decent site for buying items of merchandise provided they require only one or two photos. But projects that include dozens of photos often take so long to complete, you are likely to lose patience, stop the process, and shop someplace else. This is exactly what has happened to us several times when we have used Shutterfly.com. The downloading of pictures was so incredibly slow we gave up and went to a competitor's site. These factors make Shutterfly.com a slightly below average site overall and other than its use as a place to organize and share photos, Shutterfly.com is a web service to avoid.
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