With camcorders going digital-high definition, recording to flash media and hard-disk drives-there's a lot your customers will need to know, especially if they're upgrading from tape-based camcorder models. We asked our readers to tell us what they're doing to help customers navigate the changing camcorder landscape. Offering classes seems to be a popular way to go, as is offering accessories bundled with the camcorders being sold. Read on for more...
a. We are redesigning our store's layout to better emphasize HD video. We are putting in a Sony HDTV and making the department more visible. We have added more models to the mix and are trying to start a video class as a freebie to our customers.
Jerry Sullivan, CEO
Precision Camera & Video
a. [We're] promoting memory-card camcorders as the best way to go. Solid state, no moving parts other than the zoom lenses, and highly reliable! Customers understand that they can easily transfer videos to DVDs with the burner in their PC, or we can do it for them as a service.
We also find bundling camcorders with a bag and large "premium" memory card as a deluxe outfit allows us to make a good profit, and not have to compete with no-service big-box stores.
We also sell "ourselves" as part of the package. We tell customers that they can come to us for any assistance they need for as long as they own the camera, and that should warranty issues arise, we will take care of that for them at our expense.
Grant Hatch, Owner
Wolfeboro & North Conway, NH
a.We find that, with the wealth of information available to customers today, they're pretty well prepared when they come in to purchase a video camera. They have a good idea as to what format they'd like to purchase. If not, our sales specialists are always prepared to guide customers after questioning them as to what their usage will be. The formats are confusing to consumers, but we always try to guide them properly.
Ron LoPinto, CEO
Arista Camera Specialists
a. As a small retailer, we're not sure which direction to go with this. It's hard to maintain inventories of still digital cameras with the numbers of models available. We had eliminated video cameras from our mix. Perhaps we need to reconsider.
Barbara Hueber, Owner
Wichita Falls, TX
a.We've set up classes for educating first-time digital buyers (free if purchased at Scot): a low-cost $10/hr. group session or $20/hr. individual session. We've had good attendance so far.
a.Unfortunately, I don't deal in camcorders, but if I did, I would organize classes to let my customers know about the latest technology in camcorders and how to use it.
Heinz J. Offenbecher, Owner
a. Most of our customers have done their research. We package bundles so that customers can enjoy the full potential of their new equipment.
a. Our history in the video realm revolves around transferring video to DVD. It was a wake-up call when the first HD MiniDV came in. It wouldn't play in the decks. At first we thought it was a PAL tape. I took it out and saw that it was an HD tape-now what would we do? We'd been doing "traditional" video-to-DVD transfers for six to eight years. (I swear by using Panasonic hard-drive DVD burners for this task, not computers-too much of a learning curve.)
I've invested in a Sony unit that burns Sony HD to a DVD that can be played in a Blu-ray player-but how many of those customers have Blu-ray? We're now converting hard-drive files and other video to DVD, but this requires customers to leave their camcorders with us.
For years we've been able to handle almost any video request-PAL VHS, VHS, VHS-C, Beta, 8, Hi8, Digital8, MiniDV-just about everything to DVD.
Now with the high-def world coming to the table-and video being created in everything from iPods to cellphones to web cams-how can we archive it for them? What format do we provide for watching on a DVD? Is that what the future customer wants? So my focus is not in equipment but in the video-to-DVD aspect.
Paul Rentz, President
Rush Hour Photo