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Case Study

Strawbridge Studios

With over 5000 schools, 500 employees and more than
8 million pictures in a fall season, its fair to say Strawbridge are the definition of a high-volume studio. And since 2019, Fotomerchant has been helping power their workflow, ecommerce and marketing.

Watch our recent talk with General Manager,
Brendan Collopy or read on for the full case study below.

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Founded in 1923, Strawbridge Studios, Inc. is a 4th generation, family-owned, American school portrait, and yearbook company located in Durham, N.C.

From humble beginnings, the company now services over 5000 schools in 22 states (and growing) and shows no signs of slowing down. And with this monumental growth came a lot of common growth challenges that Strawbridge was looking to solve. 

Finding a solution to match their growth plans was proving difficult. Strawbridge found themselves juggling multiple solutions for different parts of their workflow, which was not where they wanted to be. As luck would have it, right around this time back in 2018, one of these software partners introduced them to Fotomerchant (thank you), and we set about understanding the bottlenecks in their growth plans. 

Streamlining a workflow, end-to-end

It started with a question. 

“How could we help Strawbridge bring the many platforms they were using together, using the integrated workflow features of Fotomerchant?”

We made some bold statements at the time. Not only would Fotomerchant help save cost, but importantly it would also help reduce the time they were spending on processes which could now be automated. And with this automation we could also help reduce human error which in turn meant a reduction in labor costs (more on that shortly). 

"The minute my crew got a taste of it compared to what else we were using, they went nuts. They were just like, please don't take this off of us, please don't do anything else."

After operating a trial hybrid model for a short period of time, the decision to switch across to Fotomerchant was quickly made once the Strawbridge team were introduced to our Capture solution and saw how it fully integrated into our end-to-end workflow offering including Studio and Commerce.

Utilizing Fotomerchant’s Capture solution meant that the Strawbridge team could operate unrestrained. Picture day went from a trip-hazard of cables and time drain of FTP uploads to instant uploads in real-time, automations triggered while still on location back at the studio. 

"Training someone on using a laptop with a tethered based system versus what you do, I mean, they might quit.

Our photographers love it. They're addicted."

Since adopting Fotomerchant, Strawbridge are continuing to roll out new Capture devices to their teams of photographers across territories and creating new ways of using Studio and Commerce automation to power their growth. 

Reducing labor costs

People are expensive. And people costs grow exponentially when your studio operates across 5000+ schools. To tackle this, Strawbridge utilize Fotomerchant’s automations to reduce their labor costs.

While their teams are on location bringing together another picture day, back at HQ the photos are being seen in real-time. As Capture instantly transfers images and subject data, production staff back in Durham can monitor the quality of every shoot and provide feedback to ground teams if required which aids in reducing the number of reshoots. 

"We captured a lot more automation on Fotomerchant that made it so we could set our seasons up and set up our galleries with less people and handle our uploads with less people"

When the quality of images coming through meet expectations, automation can be triggered to handle what used to be the main grunt work post picture day. Tasks like cropping and resizing are a thing of the past and happen automatically with auto-crop templates that Strawbridge have set up in Studio to meet different customer requirements. Background knockouts and 

setting up green screens are also no longer required with automated (production-quality) knockouts available on any background. This has meant that Strawbridge can offer the original background as well as any background from the one image and importantly, don’t need to send off images for individual knockouts from a third party saving both time and cost.

To infinity and beyond

We’ve worked closely with the Strawbridge team for close to 3 years and are still amazed by their passion, commitment to pushing the boundaries and challenging the “normal” way of doing things. Our team are even more amazed by Brendan’s mastery of planking which has been demonstrated on occasions during our monthly team catch ups. 

Strawbridge’s relentless pursuit of their goals has seen them overcome many challenges along the way to becoming one of the most successful and fastest-growing studios globally.

Our teams are continuing to work together on some exciting new features which we will be releasing in 2022, so keep an eye out for some big announcements in the very near future.

Let’s go!

Get in touch for a chat or even jump straight in with a live demo — and discover how you can make your Studio workflow better & faster with Fotomerchant. We promise you’ll love working with us.