New features and capabilities coming to eProductivity Software’s MarketDirect line of e-commerce products were previewed on the final day of the Connect conference in Las Vegas, including enhancements to design flexibility and ease of use, plus integration of Picsart templates, image editing and AI-generated images.

Designed to enable print-on-demand customers to ‘sell more’, the MarketDirect range has over 3000 customers and includes four modular variants: Cross-Media omnichannel campaign development and management  (developed from the DirectSmile software acquired by EFI in 2014), the StoreFront e-commerce portal, PackCentral for tags and labels and Fulfilment for non-print product picking and packing. Collectively these form part of EPS’s certified solutions offering.

Revisions to MarketDirect StoreFront will see the ‘themes’ replaced by more flexible element blocks and a framework that allow for greater visual flexibility in the design and presentation of portals, without needing to understand HTML or CSS technologies, but allowing those who are adept with such things to add their own HTML or Javascript code. Version 14.0 is due in the second quarter of 2023 and is particularly focused at quick printers and franchise operations, among others.

Also coming is integration of image editing and AI-based generation technology from Picsart. This originated as a popular smartphone app for editing and enhancing images for posting on social media; it achieved 100 million monthly users and was at one point the 19th most downloaded app, according to its developers.

This technology has been developed to scale and integrate with MarketDirect StoreFront so that its fully editable text and graphics templates can be selected and modified by users from within the StoreFront environment. In addition to typical image editing controls governing colour, brightness and details, there is an AI-based upscaling option that can effectively add back missing detail from very low resolution images, allowing larger use or solving the perennial problem of web-resolution images being used for print.

The AI-based capabilities within the Picsart technology also allow image generation from text-based descriptions, with some impressive results from apparently bizarre instructions such as ‘a surrealist image of a cowboy facing a view of the galaxy’. More practically, this has the potential to enable synthetic image generation for users who don’t have illustration capabilities of their own or access to photo libraries. It could potentially enable additional types of print materials to be generated by print shops that could not otherwise generate such material.

EPS plans to charge initially for this integrated capability on a royalty-only basis which is only paid if the customer buys the product in question. It is expected to become available within MarketDirect StoreFront from April 2023.