It used to be that it was impossible to buy gifts for the people who “had everything.” But there’s a growing market out there, one that retailers would do well to examine to drive their own profits: the photo book market. According to PMA marketing research, in 2005, 11 percent of U.S. households created photo gift items from digital images, and one of the most commonly made items was a photo book. Last year, about 4 percent of U.S. households created at least one photo book.
This creates a tremendous opportunity for independent photo retailers who are searching for yet another way to draw in customers who are dabbling in digital. Sure, consumers can opt to buy lower-end packages for at-home album creation, or fulfill album orders through big-box websites. But specialty retailers can offer easy-to-use systems that offer higher quality in a shorter amount of time, something the other two avenues simply can’t.
The following manufacturers have come up with solutions to help retailers attract those photo enthusiasts (and photo sharers) who want to put together innovative in-store albums with easy-to-use interfaces and greater convenience, all with that more personal touch that only a specialty retailer can offer.
The CAMEO Style Creative Kiosk is the result of two years’ of extensive R&D, culminating in a one-hour digital-photo-album creator for independent photo retailers. “Customer reactions to making elegant and effortless photobooks at retail have been phenomenal,” says Gary Orenstein, co-founder of CAMEO Style. “By offering these products face-to-face in the store, retailers can vary the level of service to each customer’s needs, making the most of an enjoyable, personal retail environment. Plus CAMEO Style’s unique system works with existing digital minilabs to maximize in-store equipment use.”
The Creative Kiosk aims to please by tailoring each album to the individual customer. A large LCD display can simultaneously show dozens of thumbnails, so a busy mom won’t have to spend hours in front of the kiosk trying to make her selections. Drag-and-drop ordering allows the user to combine multiple pictures on a page and easily assign page order. The handy SmartPanning feature allows the customer to automatically lay out multiple picture pages and fine-tune directional adjustments, and captions can be added to any picture so your customers won’t forget those important moments.
And the kiosk doesn’t just churn out speedy albums. It also includes capabilities for multi-opening frames, cards, calendars, planners, and journals.
The new Photo Book Station, a compact, four-station book binder for producing event albums, “memory books,” and other high-margin photo book products, made its big splash at Durst’s booth at this year’s PMA. Developed in conjunction with book-bindery manufacturer Zechini, the Photo Book Station produces high-quality, high-margin consumer photo books and albums with a variety of looks. All the major components (including startup consumables) come as part of the package to allow retailers to make photo albums and memory books from double pages digitally printed on photo paper.
“Until now, it’s been easier to talk about offering value-added photo products than to actually produce them,” says A. Ron Waters, president and CEO of Durst U.S. “But our Photo Book Station makes it easy to produce high-quality albums and photo books—much nicer than consumer-level products produced on toner or inkjet-type printers.”
Just one person is required to operate the station, moving through the four stages of production by simply stepping around the unit and performing a function at each side: crease, glue, mount, and press. The Photo Book Station produces books from small gift sizes up to 20x20 inches with 50 pages or more, including folded double-spread pages. Pages can be mounted using wet glue or dry-mount double adhesive sheets. The unit attaches covers as basic as a laminated photo (or go all out and get the fine leather, synthetics, and metals).
HP’s Photosmart Studio wasn’t built to be a “one-size-fits-all” solution—rather, it was designed as an integrated solution that is completely scalable and configurable to individual retailer needs.
Consumers tapping into the power of the Photosmart Studio can turn anywhere from one to 200 images into ready-to-share albums, calendars, CDs, greeting cards, and posters in less than an hour. Users don’t even have to go through the tedious process of selecting, cropping, or placing photos into templates on each individual page. Instead, hundreds of photos are laid out in minutes using proprietary image management algorithms developed by HP Labs.
And while the system doesn’t currently print 4x6-inch photos, rest assured that HP is hard at work developing this technology for future versions.
KIS Photo-Me Group
The My Creativ’ Album incorporates proprietary KIS image-management software that can produce albums, books, and other products at three feature levels: Basics (simple photo page templates and covers, designed and priced mainly for the trendy, cost-conscious youth market); Classics (templates and higher-quality covers for family keepsakes); and Prestige (professional-looking templates and materials mainly for the serious amateur photographer or photo book lover).
“Having carefully listened to our worldwide customers, we developed this new album production package to enable the photo retailer to offer creative, appealing, value-added photo products that deliver higher satisfaction for their customers and higher margins for their business,” says Jean-Christophe Allegret, director of marketing for KIS Photo-Me Group.