Bumblejax Vs Shutterfly Acrylic Prints
Why Choose Bumblejax Over Shutterfly For Your Acrylic Prints?
You've probably heard of Shutterfly. They're the big 800lb gorilla in the personalized photo industry creating everything from mugs, to t-shirts, to calendars to ... yep, even acrylic prints. They were recently acquired by a private equity group which also purchased Snapfish to merge them together to create a massive photo company. We both do acrylic prints and acrylic photo blocks as well. That's where the similarity ends. We are a small boutique photo lab that specializes in creating nothing but high end, custom crafted wall art. We use a handmade, acrylic face mount process for max color accuracy and vibrancy. Shutterfly appears to use the acrylic face mount process as well but with some important differences which we'll get into with the details section below.
Here is a nice comparison table between Shutterfly acrylic prints and our acrylic prints. We'll go into each one in detail below to give you a better idea of which company is the best choice for you, but often times the best way to find the best fit is to place a small order with each and see which experience you like the best (we hope it's us!). We do have a nice first order discount for all customers and periodic sales as well for our newsletter subscribers.
NOTE: there is very little information about how exactly the Shutterfly acrylic prints are made and what the materials are and it's tough to get any info from support. It's important that quality inkjet inks are used, high quality paper and a backer. There is no information about the acrylic, how thick it is, how the edges are finished and what type of paper and inks are used. We'll do our best to compare with the info we have. Just know you generally get what you pay for in this industry.
|Custom Sizes?||Yes, any size down to 1/4"||NO (just 8 sizes)|
|Superior Face Mount Method?|
|Edge Finish||YES (diamond polished)||?|
|Fast Wire Hanging?||YES||NO|
|Made In House?||?|
|Made In USA?||Likely|
|Production Time||4-8 business days||?|
|Rush Orders?||Yes (15-25% extra)||NO|
|Drop Ship/White Label||Yes (no extra charge)||NO|
|Image Optimization||Included In Price||NO|
|Color Profiles Accepted||sRGB, Adobe 1998, ProPhoto||only sRGB|
|Intelligent Order Configuration?||NO|
|Prompt & Expert Support||NO|
|1st Order Discount?||20% or 50% (resellers)||Various Promos|
|Shipping Price||10% of product price *||Flat Rate or Free|
|Reviews||4.9/5 (2000+)||3.8/5 (about 30K)|
While Shutterfly also offers the superior face mounted acrylic print it doesn't come with any backing material which is important to protect the print and provide rigidity over time. Options and sizes are extremely limited and there is very little information on how and where it's made. If you know very little about acrylic prints and how they are made we'd highly suggest having a look at our acrylic prints buyers guide because there are many ways (often times cheap).
Custom Sizes. We can do any custom size down to the 1/4" all the way up to a massive 96x48". Shutterfly only offers 8 different sizes and only a couple that fit into the aspect ratio of a photo from a digital camera. We have over a dozen stocked standard sizes and can do any odd size for a little more per sq inch. Our order configuration system automates the process of determining max size, the aspect ratio and the dimension of the other side to maintain the full image without cropping. It's a truly intelligent order system not found anywhere else online.
Custom Options. Since we're a smaller print lab we can work directly with the customer and our suppliers to come up with custom solutions. We have everything from our acrylic designer series product with colored acrylic backing to the Trulife premium acrylic to thick 1/2" acrylic (1" blocks too!) as well as stand off bolt hanging and anti-glare acrylic. You can see more details on all our custom acrylic options here. Shutterfly doesn't offer any options at all from their basic configuration.
- Thickness: Bumblejax (1/8", 1/4", 1/2" and 1" blocks), Shutterfly (1/8", 1" blocks)
- Acrylic Type: Bumblejax (standard, Trulife, anti-glare), Shutterfly (standard only)
- Edge Finish: Bumblejax (routed/sanded or diamond polished), Shutterfly (not specified)
- Hanging: Bumblejax (wire, cleat, standoff bolts), Shutterfly (cleat)
Superior Face Mount Method. We use a process similar to the European diasec method (called face mounting) where your photo is printed to professional photo paper and adhered to the acrylic using an optically clear adhesive which provides the greatest vibrancy, color accuracy, and permanence. You look through the acrylic at your photo which is backed by dibond for protection and rigidity. Acrylic has unique properties in that light refracts within the acrylic instead of simply passing through as it does with glass. That gives it its amazing vibrancy. As mentioned before, Shutterfly appears to use a similar process but there is no info about the quality of the components used and no backing material.
Quality Backer. A dibond backing material adhered to the print using a pH neutral adhesive protects the print and keeps the acrylic rigid over time since it can have a tendency to bow particularly at larger sizes. Shutterfly appears to mount the hanging material directly to the print which is far from ideal but significantly reduces cost.
Edge Finish. We provide you the option of two acrylic edge finishes. Included in the price is a routed/sanded edge that is more opaque. As an upgrade we offer diamond polished edges for a 100% smooth and clear see through edge. This is recommended on our 1/4" acrylic, and required on our 1/2" and 1" acrylic for a beautiful 3D effect. It's not really necessary on the thinner 1/8" acrylic since you don't have a prominent edge.
Shutterfly offers no information on how their edges are finished, but if we were to guess it's probably a CNC machine routed and possibly polished edge since this process is far less labor intensive than running the edges by hand through a diamond polishing machine.
Framing Option? We get asked about traditional framing from time to time, but unfortunately offer no framing solutions at this time. We're focused 100% on frameless, floating photo mounts. Shutterfly does do framing but it looks like that isn't an option for their acrylic prints.
Fast Wire Hanging. Unique to Bumblejax, we offer a quick, no tools required hanging system and even include the hook for you. A few seconds and you're done. This option is for sizes 40x30" and below. For larger sizes we do have to use a french cleat hang system for greater stability on the wall. Shutterfly uses a cleat system for all their prints.
Made In-House? Bumblejax produces everything in-house right down to the cutting of the acrylic which provides for better quality control and the ability to offer more custom solutions and sizes. It's likely that Shutterfly produces their acrylic prints in house but it's difficult to say.
Made In USA? We produce all of our work in our shop in Seattle, WA by skilled craftsmen that have been with us for years. It's difficult to say where Shutterfly produces the prints but likely in the USA.
Production Time. Our production times for face mounted acrylic prints are on the fast end of the industry for a specialty photo lab. Our production time is generally 4-8 business days depending on the size, quantity and type of prints ordered. Our production times are also just about guaranteed and if a customer needs us to push it out a day or two faster we almost always accommodate them at no extra charge particularly if they are a repeat customer.
Some of our competitors are closer to 10 business days and sometimes even longer during busy times. While there is no information at Shutterfly regarding production times we believe they are around the same amount of time (4-8 business days) so fairly quick on their turnaround. We recommend contacting their support team if you have a critical deadline to receive your acrylic prints.
Rush Orders. We are the only company in the industry (as far we know) offering an affordable rush charge of 15-25% which gets your print out in 2-3 business days. Typically if rush charges are offered at all (it's very rare for acrylic prints) the rush price ranges between 50-100%. We also have expedited shipping options to speed it up on that end as well. Many of our customers have critical deadlines whether that be for a photography show, a birthday, Christmas, etc so we understand the need for flexible options for rushing orders out. Shutterfly does not offer any kind of rush production but appear to offer expedited shipping.
Drop Shipping/Rebranding. We both offer drop shipping by simply adding your separate shipping address at checkout. Shutterfly ships all products branded with invoicing which isn't ideal for resellers. Our shipments never include branding by default. We can also go the extra mile for you and add in a note, a COA, add a label to the back of the print, blind drop ship (shipping label shows as package coming from you, etc. at no extra charge. Just give us a shout.
Image Optimization. One area where we really stand out from the crowd is our pre-print process (see more details on our free photo optimization service here). We take the time to manually review every order that comes in and make improvements that would obviously help based on our years of experience. This is not a "push button one size fits all" auto improvement that many companies call "optimizing". Unique adjustments are made if necessary to every file that comes in whether it be sharpening, denoising, lightening, etc. If we see something out of place or notice lens flares we'll even contact you to discuss. Shutterfly will likely print the file as it is with no improvements made. It would impossible to do with the volume of orders and the cost of the prints.
Intelligent Order Configuration? We've been building and refining our customer upload and order configuration system for nearly a decade now. With automatic detection of photo quality and size ratio along with the ability to order any custom size, it's one of the best and easiest to use in the industry... as long as you're not using an Internet Explorer browser (in which case it may or may not work!) It has been tested thoroughly in FireFox, Chrome and Safari and mobile optimized as well. Shutterfly offers a very basic order configuration system.
Place Order As Guest? We work really hard to make our entire process is as painless and streamlined as possible so allowing our customers to just place an order without having to create an account (you can create one later if you want right from the order success page) provides a quick checkout experience. That said we do recommend creating an account so that all your photos are saved to your account along with your order history and addresses. Shutterfly does require you to create an account with them in order to place your order.
Prompt & Expert Support? If you want to place an order with us you'll receive fast support from experts who know print inside and out and can review your photo with you in real time over live chat or phone (email if you prefer). Our support agents have been with us since day 1. We'll even make small edits and adjustments at no charge to make sure your photo print is the best it can be. For large orders, you will almost always work with the same person throughout for continuity.
Keep in mind Shutterfly is a massive company and you know what that means. Outsourced support, phone menu systems, long wait times. It appears that support is spread across the globe and in our testing was extremely limited in knowledge. Before placing an order you might do a test yourself on live chat or phone and just ask some questions about the product.
Product Price. The big and only advantage of Shutterfly is price. If you're on a tight budget and want a bare bones acrylic print that should look ok consider ordering a small size to see if it's good enough for you. If you have the budget for something that will hold up a lot longer and be made to gallery quality specifications than our product is a good fit for you, but comes at a significantly higher price. We do have a generous first order discount (sign up at pop up form in lower left), a few sales throughout the year and loyalty/reseller discounting to help out on the price.
Shipping Price. We charge 10% of the product price and it jumps up quickly from there. We don't do free shipping per se like some photo companies, but with our loyalty discounting most repeat customers have at least free shipping. We spend a lot of time carefully packaging every order, insure the package and send out an immediate replacement if something goes wrong. You don't even need to send the print back to us.
Shutterfly appears to offer free shipping on orders over a certain amount depending on what kind of promo they have so you will save there as well. If you're interested in Shutterfly acrylic prints sign up for their newsletter so you can get all the promos.
Reviews. This is a big one and should be one of the most important factors when deciding on a print lab to create your prints. We have been really focused on customer feedback for a long time time and many of our product and website improvements have come as a result of customer feedback. It also provides a great way for others to get a sense of how we do business. We're proud of our nearly 5 star rating across over 2000 reviews (Ekomi, Facebook, Google, Trustpilot and Yelp) from customers who have placed an order with us. It's tops in the industry and we're planning to stay there 🙂 You can see all our reviews here.
The reviews of Shutterfly are extremely mixed so you'll want to check out reviews from the past couple months on several review sites. The most reliable are Trustpilot, Reseller Ratings, Consumer Affairs, Sitejabber and social media reviews at Facebook and Google. Most of the reviews are at Trustpilot with a score of 4/5 across 27K reviews but always pay particular attention to reviews from more recently. It seems there are a fair number of recent complaints and the reviews at Reseller Ratings, Consumer Affairs and Sitejabber are quite poor. They don't provide customers a place to review on Facebook.
Hopefully, this report has provided you with the necessary details to understand the differences between us and Shutterfly and make an informed decision. As mentioned before considering ordering a small print from us and Shutterfly and see which you like best and factor in cost. We hope to have the opportunity to make you an acrylic print one day!
We will say that if you're a photographer or artist reselling your work it's probably best to steer clear of mass produced products from large companies for a variety of reasons. With every print you sell your reputation is on the line so while the prints might be more money upfront, in the long run it will be far cheaper. Our reseller customers sleep well at night knowing that when they place an order with us it will be delivered on time, damage free (99.5% of the time) and produced with exceptional quality and consistency. If anything goes wrong it's immediately taken care of.
Note: If you're a customer or representative of Shutterfly and feel any information in this article isn't accurate please contact us right away and we'll make an update.
PS. Be sure to check out our first order discount promos at the bottom left of the page.