Make new photos, but keep the old; one is silver and the other's gold. Like old friends, photos can breathe new life into a distant memory. And like any good relationship, one must take steps to preserve it. That's why retailers have been urging customers to open up their shoeboxes of golden memories to scanning services that will ensure posterity.
With a plethora of photo-restorative options for clients, including DVDs, photobooks, and collages, retailers have been drawing much-needed profit from scanning services. "Offering scanning of customers' slide collections is an easy profit center at any time, but especially now, when, for a small capital investment, the dealer can earn a good margin with just the cost of a blank DVD and the support of an employee," says Bob Salomon of HP Marketing Corp.
Scanning services are also a way to direct new revenue into photo-specialty shops without demanding too much employee legwork. "Since the scanning procedure with the Braun 4000 scanner is fully automatic, it doesn't require a lot of time and attention, other than loading slides into a slide tray and telling the projector which slides to scan," Salomon says. "From that point on, the machine runs unattended, loading the images into Photoshop. Once the scans are finished, the operator can then do post-processing, if desired, and then transfer to the DVD, or just transfer to the DVD without any image processing."
Indeed, newer scanning models are preferable to older machines, which may require more labor-intensive manipulation. One such model is the Kodak Rapid Print Scanner. According to Garth Neenan, director of retail printing for KODAK AMERICAS REGION, it's all about moving from the analog world to the digital world: "now consumers can take their shoeboxes of prints and easily scan and archive them on a Kodak Picture CD using the new scanner."
"The Rapid Print Scanner is really fast," he explains. "It can create thirty 4x6 prints in about a minute. Users can simply place different size prints--from wallet size up to 8x12--into the scanner and digitize their images to allow them to create photobooks, collages and Kodak Picture Movie DVDs on Kodak Picture Kiosks," Neenan explains.
Not having to send customer orders to an outside location is another draw. "Retailers can have on-site service instead of outsourcing customers' pictures. We all know that consumers don't want to part with their treasured photographs," says Neenan. Not only do consumers have a hard time parting with their photographs, they also need to be reminded of the various creative opportunities that are offered through shoebox scanning. Neenan therefore suggests that retailers position their self-serve scanners prominently near the checkout counter to ensure consumers are aware of this exciting new service.
David Guidry of LAKESIDE CAMERA PHOTOWORKS in Metairie and Mandeville, LA, uses two Kodak 1200 series scanners and three to four flatbeds of varying makes and models. "We scan everything for our customers in our production areas," says Guidry.
According to Guidry, client demands are large and multifaceted: "We do bulk scan jobs for all kinds of folks with all kinds of needs. The majority of jobs are consumer snapshots of family life."
To meet wide-ranging customer requests, Lakeside Camera Photoworks introduced bulk-order scanning services. "We've had success with our ‘By-The-Box' initiative, where the customer pays for an empty box (we use USPS boxes) and then fills the box with as many prints as it will hold, which we scan for a single fee," Guidry explains. Lakeside also offers full restoration/art reproduction and shoebox-scanning services, with an option for image enhancements.
As for profit, both Salomon and Guidry agree that shoebox scanning and photo restoration is an indispensable service for retail businesses. "Sales have been particularly good last year for the Braun scanner in the U.S. markets," says Salomon. Indeed, scanning is an essential and vital part of the professional imaging niche. "This is the kind of service that should be the photo-specialty shop's specialty," adds Guidry.
When asked why other retailers should--if they haven't already--include such services, Guidry answered: "Are any photo-specialty stores too busy or too wildly profitable to ignore potential emerging revenue streams?"