Preserving memories making digital printing at retail more popular.
Digital camera sales continue to soar as digital camera adoption has reached mainstream status with millions of American consumers participating in digital photography. According to InfoTrends, approximately 30 percent of U.S. households owned digital cameras in 2003. That number is expected to grow to 41 percent by the end of this year. Surprisingly, consumers have been hesitant to embrace the final stage of adoption-printing digital pictures-but that is quickly changing. Preservation of memories has begun to play an important role in fueling the demand for digital printing at retail.
"This is a notable shift in digital camera users' behavior, because the desire to preserve memories will lead to the desire for printed copies," says Kerry Flatley, a consultant at InfoTrends. "Preserving memories on CDs, DVDs and especially hard drives is perilous since these methods are dependent on technology. Photos printed on archival paper are a time-tested preservation method. As digital camera users realize this, they will be more likely to print their photos."
Digital printing at retail locations is the most rapidly growing digital printing option and is becoming more recognized by digital camera users as a viable option for obtaining quality digital pictures. According to PMA, the volume of prints made from digital camera images increased by 81 percent for the year ending in May 2004. Self-service kiosks have been the major vehicles for delivering digital printing services at retail where digital minilabs are not available.
The rapid growth in the volume of prints by retailers or on kiosks has resulted in the shift of digital printing share away from home printers and toward other printing options. For the year ending in May 2004, 58.5 percent of digital prints were made on home printers, down from 79.3 percent in the earlier period. Local retailers continued gaining share as their percent increased from 7.5 to 14.5 percent, with the share of prints output by kiosks quadrupling. "More and more families are using digital cameras to archive memories, and in turn, we are beginning to see a surge in the demand to print physical pictures," comments Scott Auer, VP, Retail Imaging, U.S., Digital & Film Imaging Systems, Kodak. "Kodak has heard from consumers that while they love the digital photography experience, what they really miss are their pictures. And we are making it easier for consumers to print high-quality pictures on their own terms."
Ott One Hour PhotoBob Ott's store features the Mitsubishi Diamond Digital Express kiosk.
"We are starting to see a significant amount of customers looking for digital printing solutions at retail," says Bob Ott of Ott One Hour Photo, Philadelphia, PA. Ott's store features the Mitsubishi Diamond Digital Express kiosk. He says the customer base of kiosk users is between the ages of 17-30 and mostly female.
With the Mitsubishi Diamond Digital Express, the store has cashed in on this highly profitable market by providing consumers with prints from their digital media. By incorporating a kiosk in the store, Ott One Hour Photo has provided its customers with a stand-alone, fully functional digital photofinishing center, which puts the power of processing in the customers' hands.
"Digital offers them immediate satisfaction in viewing and printing pictures, control over the quantity of pictures printed and the price they are willing to spend on prints," says Ott. "It's beginning to mirror the behavior of consumers taking their film to a retail location for processing.
"The Mitsubishi Diamond Digital Express has been a good addition to our store," Ott continues. "The unit makes 4 x 6-inch photos, which is what the majority of our customers want, and the kiosk prints almost instantly. In about 10 minutes, customers can walk away happy with new photographs."
He says his customers are running about 50/50 in the digital savvy department: "Some know exactly what they are doing; others need some help."
Most of his customers are using the kiosk to make 4 x 6 prints, burn images onto CD and make index prints. "One other niche we found was scanning black-and-white negatives and slides, retouching them, burning them onto a CD and printing them out on the Diamond Digital Express," says Ott. "They come out great. It's a whole new niche product that they can't do anywhere else."
He also uses the kiosk to help with add-on sales: "We carry a lot of frames and encourage our customers to hang around the store while we are making the prints and shop for a frame to put the print in." In addition, they're selling media cards.
"The Diamond Digital Express is also an incredibly reliable machine," he adds. "With Mitsubishi's built-in Color Imaging Control system, prints from the unit exhibit vibrant, true-to-life colors that match the original photography. And the sales and technical support I get from Mitsubishi has also been outstanding. They are great to work with and always get back to me whenever I need assistance."
Japan CameraBeatty is very happy with the reliability and quality that the Pixel Magic machines offer.
Rod Beatty, general manager at Japan Camera in Ottawa, Canada, offers two Pixel Magic iStations networked together that share a 4 x 6-inch dye sub printer; they are also networked to their Konica R1 minilab system.
"Our kiosk user base is mainly soccer moms, but we're getting other types of users," Beatty says. "Downtown Ottawa is like Washington, DC. We are seeing a lot of federal workers coming in to use the machine." Beatty reports that they have a few mass merchants in the area that they compete with: "We can't compete with them on price, but we do offer more digital expertise, equipment, quality and a digital education."