Magazine Article


Profits from Prints
Increase your bottom line by selling consumables

The capture to print process has become, in recent years, more independent since the advent of digital. Retailers and minilabs can draw on this trend by creating new opportunities for bringing in additional revenue by selling media and ink. As we see with inkjet refilling systems, one mans trash is another man's treasure, likewise is a big box store's sale of a printer, a smaller retailer's profitable sales of media and inks.

The variety of media: specialty papers, canvas, watercolor paper, and more, along with and ink and inksets offered to consumers is ever-growing, and the need for not only a knowledgeable staff that can guide consumers to the best solution for their end use, but also a "go to" place where consumers can easily pick up the necessary media and ink is integral. Not only does this sales strategy make your shop an invaluable resource to your customers, but also paves the way towards increasing your bottom line by bringing more bodies into your store.


"Though the printer manufacturers also sell to the mass merchandising market-big-box boys-many third party media brands do not. The opportunity here is to bring customers to the photo retail store to purchase products not available at the likes of Best Buy, Staples, Comp USA, etc. As Gillette figured out, give away the razor and make the money selling blades. Photo retailers may make small margins on printer sales, but can find improved profits on consumables.

Retailers selling inkjet ink and media should offer a wide variety of media brands in terms of type and price range. The knowledge base of today's print-makers has grown exponentially over the past two years. More sophisticated printers, more permanent ink-sets, and other imaging tools such as calibration devices and RIPs, has significantly improved output quality, and workflow efficiencies. As a result, print-makers that would have never dared buy media other than the papers offered from the manufacturer of their printer, are now looking to expand their creative envelopes with different and more sophisticated media types.

As photographers and graphic artists increase their investment in more expensive cameras, printers, and workflow tools, the cost of paper and ink becomes a smaller percentage of the overall print cost. Media types offered by photo retailers should clearly include more sophisticated, and more expensive papers. They not only improve image quality for the print-maker, resulting in happier customers, they also improve profitability for the photo retailer."

-Robert W. Haupt, Sales Manager, North America, Hahnemühle USA


"With the increased interest in digital printing, photographers are looking for the highest quality of archival prints. They want to print on a variety of surfaces beyond glossy and matte, which gives retailers an assortment of opportunities to offer both photo and professional/fine-art media to meet any photographer's need, including semi-gloss, semi-matte, luster, velvet, and canvas.

With the volume of printing advanced amateurs are doing today, along with their desire to use only the finest products available, these repeat consumables provide an ideal opportunity for photo retail stores to grow their business. In fact, many dealers are reporting that thanks to sales on ink and paper, profits are steady despite the decline of film and processing.

Everyone wants convenience, and photo retail stores have the opportunity to be the one-stop-shop for photographers, by providing not only the equipment photographers are looking for, but also the additional accessories that are needed to create beautiful prints."

-Jack Oleksinski, Spokesperson, Epson America


"If you haven't already done so, add a wide-format inkjet printer to your service offerings. With one printer and an ever-increasing range of media, you can expand your market into signage, displays and tradeshow graphics. Promote your wide-format capabilities-stand out from the rest...who fight over the postcard and letter size print volume. Banners, point-of-purchase retail signage, murals, home décor (transfers, wall coverings, fabrics, etc.) all can be printed on most wide-format aqueous inkjet printers from HP, Epson, and Canon, to name just a few.

With this option, the customer loses the benefits of taking control, but on the other hand, not every photographer wants to take control. In fact they want you to and they will pay for it.

By offering in-shop printing you can offer a service to the photographic artists who prefer to focus on creative capture, not printing. They still want to outsource the printing service (all, or perhaps just a portion) which, as their retail supplier for other photography goods, could very well come back to you. So in this case, it's wise to offer hardware, software, and supplies sales, as well as printing services."

-Dan Halkyard, Director, Wide Format Marketing, Océ Imaging Supplies


"When retailers are setting up their displays for inkjet media, there are a few key points to remember. Every manufacturer produces good products, better products, and then their best, top-of-the line products. The 'best' quality products, often the most expensive and profitable, are what retailers and manufacturers would like to maximize sales on. The ideal placements for these products are in the top left hand corner to mimic how we read: top down, left to right. The exception to this rule is when you have quality small products because these items tend to get lost on the lower shelves and should be kept at higher levels."

Also, in-store visual sample prints help customers choose the right finish for their particular application. I would suggest that retailers add something regarding sheet counts. The optimum sheet counts ensure turn rates. Don't include promotional deals that offer 100+ sheets of media, as this will reduce the need for the customer to return to the store."

-Tom Poudrier, Marketing Manager, OJI ILFORD USA