Go e-commerce, or go bust, says Toronto-based entrepreneur Husan Aripov, co-founder of StylePhotos Canada. As physical stores remain closed in most parts of Canada for now, retailers are rapidly growing e-commerce websites in an effort to reach consumers.
A year ago, Aripov and his brother Khasan founded the company as a pioneer in e-commerce content creation. The goal was to supply the best quality photography available at a very reasonable price.
“Times have changed. Retailers of all sizes are suffering one of the worst macroeconomic shocks in recent history, with a multitude of players closing their doors forever. Who would have thought that the brick and mortar tradition of doing business would suffer so much due to the Canada-wide state of emergency and closure of all non-essential businesses to the public?,” said Husan Aripov.
Retailers across the country are either expanding their online presence or are launching e-commerce for the first time. Online shopping in Canada is said to have more than doubled since March of this year and growth in the channel is expected to continue to grow as many remain wary of venturing outdoors.
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Launched in early 2019, Stylephotos.ca began its journey as an in-house photo and video studio for the parent company – OriginalLuxury Inc., shooting luxurious brands such as Philipp Plein, Artioli, Billionaire, and so on. Within a short period of time, the owners (two graduates from the Schulich School of Business at York University) realized that the cost of photography and the average turnaround times in the industry were quite excessive and offered their services to the general public.
Today, StylePhotos Canada offers photo and video services for all players within the e-commerce industry. Covering virtually all product categories, the company currently fulfils product photography and videography requests of such retail giants as Canadian Tire, Puma Canada, Mark’s, National Sports, Gertex, and many more.
“In addition to large retailers who observe this shift towards e-commerce, there is a surge of small local designers and retailers who now can afford to have high quality content thanks to Stylephotos’ Canada pricing strategy and volume approach,” said Husan.
“Currently, StylePhotos offers flat-lay photography, model photography and videography – to create that touch and feel sensation for consumers – , jewelry photography and videography, as well as something entirely new – 3D photography that was introduced in January in Beta stage by Shopify.
“Given the current state of affairs, we can only hope that the COVID-19 pandemic will not put an end to a vast majority of retailers, who are struggling to pay rent, and order collections for their respective stores at the same time. Irrespective of how long it would take for the economy to recover, one can state with confidence that the retail world of today, will be characterized as pre-COVID-19 and post-COVID-19, with significantly higher emphasis on e-commerce presence in the post-COVID-19 era.”
Khasan Aripov said the company is very niche in what it does in the marketplace.
“We are right now the least expensive in terms of the pricing in terms of product photography. We have the quickest turnaround time and we have the highest quality. We managed to achieve this because we have the technology we bought from Europe,” said Khasan.
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Khasan said the amount of calls have picked up during the COVID crisis from larger re-sellers who have quite a lot of product and need to get their growing inventory onto the web.
“Everyone has to have e-commerce by now. So now we’re at the stage where a lot of businesses are contacting us just to get their business optimized. The products have to go to the web quickly,” he said.
“We have built an online order guide which should be live very soon. Basically people will be able to go on our website and generate the style guide automatically for their product and then it goes straight to our photographer where they’re going to be shooting the products and they can reproduce exactly what the client is asking. We’re trying to build a more scalable business while making it more standardized and more affordable.”
Khasan said those companies that had a strong e-commerce business leading up to the COVID crisis are not suffering as much as others who have been heavily focused on physical retail.
“A lot of photo studios right now try to milk as much money out of clients as possible. The problem with this is people usually run out of money to actually promote their products,” he said.
“There’s been a drastic switch. We’re getting calls anywhere from people selling tea, which have a small tea shop, to people selling clothing, people who have chocolate companies, a lot of people are calling about face masks and hand sanitizers. The market is changing and I don’t think we’re going to be going back to our daily routine from what I’m seeing.
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