Distributors aid small businesses in a variety of ways, including helping them compete against larger stores. Leveraging their buying power and warehouse space allows independents to stock only what they have the space or demand for. Distributors also help by educating their customers on new products entering the marketplace. They can customize their services around the needs of their clients, just as specialty retailers and labs do with the consumers who come to them for their expertise. Distributors can source many of the accessories that you sell with a digital camera; the consumables you sell and use; and the printers and kiosks that bring in revenue.
We asked the distributors in the imaging space for their view on the State of the Industry. Read on....
Industry Undergoing Monumental Changes
Mark Roth, President, Argraph Corporation
Sometimes it's difficult to realize how quickly our industry continues to change. Just the other day, I happened to uncover an "ancient" Argraph memory card price list from September 1998. A 2MB CF card sold for $30. Today the same $30 buys a 2GB card. That's 1,000 times as much memory for the same price! This took only nine years. We now take such progress in stride.
The imaging industry continues to experience these monumental changes, and those who are able to adapt are prospering. The overwhelming dominance of digital has created both challenges and opportunities. Many of your traditional profit centers may be gone, but digital also offers new profit centers. Two key aspects of digicams are driving sales and creating huge opportunities specialty dealers are uniquely positioned to exploit.
First is the tremendous growth of digital SLRs. Reminiscent of the glory days of film SLRs for the masses, digital SLRs offer you much greater profit opportunity than point-and-shoot cameras.
Second is the built-in obsolescence/replacement factor. Computer products are used an average of approximately three years and then replaced for newer technology. We're seeing the same pattern with digital cameras. Where photographers once used the same film camera for decades, they're now trading in their digital cameras for new ones with more pixels, anti-blur, stabilization, face recognition, etc.
The keys to exploiting these opportunities are: Differentiate, Accessorize, Print, and Create Store Traffic.
The demand is there. Your job is to get your customers to buy their new digital cameras from your store. Accentuate what differentiates your store from the mass marketers-your expertise, knowledge, and personal service. In most cases you can match their prices, add valuable extras you can offer and they can't, and make a good profit.
Every digital camera sale should include accessories (marketers call this the "attachment rate"-make yours 100%). Start with the usual suspects such as filters-especially the new digital high-grade filters made specifically for digital cameras. Then add the digital-specific needs: every camera you sell should go with extra memory cards, a card reader, rechargeable batteries, and a charger. Sell "digital darkroom" products such as inkjet printers, ink, and paper to customers who want to print their own images. And finally, sell new accessories designed specifically for new avenues created by digital.
For example, the Zigview Digital Angle Viewfinders are a high-demand, high-profit accessory for digital and film SLRs. By making low-level and overhead photography easy with its unique rotating real-time LCD monitor, Zigview makes DSLRs even more user-friendly, enabling photographers to take pictures with their DSLRs they could never take before.
Digital printing at retail continued to grow in the past year. This growth is fueled by consumers getting the message about the benefits of in-store digital printing-lower cost, higher quality, and greater convenience. This growth in printing is just beginning-the majority of digital images are still printed at home. And even more digital images are never printed at all. Everyone knows this represents lost revenues for the photo industry, but it also represents potential lost memories for consumers. Memory cards are lost, files deleted, hard drives crash, and nobody knows for sure if today's CDs will be compatible with future formats. Convince your customers of the importance of printing all their images and you won't miss film at all.
And when you present your customers with the beautiful prints you or they have made from their digital images, be sure to sell the presentation products that preserve, protect, and show off their prints, enhance their images-and your bottom line.
An Energized Imaging Retail Market
Barb Brandess, CEO, BKA
At BKA, we agree with PTN's opinion that imaging in today's retail market is energized, and we are excited to be a part of it. There are a variety of ways we support our dealers with some of the challenges they might encounter and help create opportunities for success.
We are continually looking for new products to introduce to our customers, and our purchasing power opens up a wider range of prospects to offer. Because they can buy from us in small quantities, our dealers have the option of testing new merchandise to better ascertain the probability of success without any significant investment in inventory. Being able to consolidate a wide variety of products into one order from a distributor with a multitude of lines saves a retailer time and effort.