Shutterfly.com versus Snapfish.com — The Race For Holiday Shoppers Heats Up

I recently created my first photo book online as a holiday gift. Judging by the slow speed of the site I was on, I wasn’t alone! In fact, traffic to photo service sites Kodak Gallery, Shutterfly, Snapfish and MyPublisher each rose in November. Snapfish experienced the biggest gain with a whopping 40% increase to a record 4.725 million people. And, only Snapfish enjoyed a year-over-year increase in traffic (up 25.7% from last November).

What made Snapfish so popular, particularly against its close rival Shutterfly? A quick look at the top referring sites to Shutterfly and Snapfish provided a big hint.

  • Nearly 4% of all traffic referred to Snapfish.com in November came from Oprah.com, a 29,475 percent increase in referral share from the prior month.
  • A quick check revealed that Oprah announced a credit for her viewers to receive a free 20 page 8×11 custom photo book through Snapfish.com during November (using an online coupon)
  • In all, Snapfish.com had the advantage compared with Shutterfly.com in 9 of the top 15 referring sites

So, what’s next for these rivals in competing for consumers’ attention this holiday season? Consider this:

Snapfish: Focus on retention and greater share of wallet. The Oprah promotion clearly drove viewers to Snapfish. The question now is, will they return to make other paid purchases? And, can Snapfish convert these Oprah viewers into loyal customers? Watch to see if November’s surge in traffic is a one-time windfall or is sustained. If the site’s Daily Reach is a harbinger, it may signal that the hard work is just beginning.

Shutterfly: Evaluate your paid search program. Shutterfly received an average 32% of its search engine referrals from paid ads compared with Snapfish’s 25%. On the one hand, Shutterfly has 9% more overall search referrals than its rival to show for its spending. And non-branded search terms "photo book" and "photo cards" are among the top 10 keywords driving traffic to Shutterfly. But overall traffic still lags Snapfish. And, what do these searchers do when they get to the site? How does this compare with what happens at Snapfish? Are searchers more or less likely to purchase online compared to rivals? Benchmarking against competitors could provide valuable competitive information.