Magazine Article


Recharging Your Sales

Rechargeable & Traditional Batteries Offer High Voltage Opportunities for Photo Retail

By Dan Havlik

With all the talk about digital cameras these days, perhaps only one thing can be said with certainty about these high-tech imagersthey require battery power, a lot of battery power. And as anyone who's ever worked behind the counter will tell you, batteries offer a golden opportunity to help your customers power up their new digital cameras while making an additional sale.

"Whenever I sell a digital camera, I always tell my customers to get an extra rechargeable battery because they're going to need it," said Bob Caselnova of CAS Photo Services in Brookfield, CT. That advice was "seconded" by several photo retailers interviewed by PTN recently, almost all of whom said that since the advent of the digital camera, it has increasingly become a rechargeable world.

But whether it's rechargeables, alkalines or lithium batteries you're selling, it's vitally important to keep your customers charged up. As most retailers know, it's hard enough for first-time digital camera users to figure out all the bells and whistles on their new camera, so just imagine their dismay when they line up the perfect "family moment" only to find out that their $500 digicam's battery has flatlined.

Caselnova added that because most digital cameras on the market now come with proprietary batteries from the manufacturer, it's important to keep manufacturer's batteries in stock at all times to sell as spares.

Chris Bolten of The Camera Shop in Mays Landing, NJ concurred. "The majority of the best selling digital cameras all take proprietary batteries now so we make sure and stock up." Bolten noted that the best way to find out whether a customer needs a spare rechargeable is simply by talking to them. "If they're going on vacation or any other activity where there might be some heavy picture taking going on, we suggest they buy a spare," he said. "Application is the big thing and rechargeables are usually the way to go because of the cost savings." Bolten added that almost all of his digital camera buyers use rechargeables. "We do sell alkalines but it's rare."

Despite the rechargeable revolution, some in the photo industry still favor old fashioned alkalines. Richard Lewin, who operated Jay Dee Camera Exchange in Manhattan for 32 years before selling the business, still swears by alkalines, particularly the Varta brand. "The best thing we ever did was find Varta, which was a brand nobody had heard of at the time, and sell them as our house brand," Lewin recalled. "Varta makes great batteries. I'd much rather have our own brand that we researched so people could say 'I go to Jay Dee and Jay Dee recommends' People would literally come from the Bronx to buy Varta batteries from us."

Since Lewin discovered Varta many years ago, the company has become a favorite in the photo retail market. For the past nine years, Varta's line has been chosen "Best Battery" by PTN's readership in our annual Top Products poll.

Alex Gilmore of the Bay Camera Company in Savannah, GA, noted that he still sells "a lot of alkalines," because "not everybody has bought a digital camera yet." He added though that as digital camera sales get stronger, so too have sales of rechargeables. "Selling an extra rechargeable battery not only makes a sale for us, it's also a service for the consumer because they'll need it," Gilmore said, noting that in terms of point-and-shoot style consumer cameras, he sold about 70 percent digital and 30 percent film over the holidays. "Things are forever changing and right now, digital's hot. That's the future."

At Bromfield Camera in Boston, MA, assistant manager Bill Rundle couldn't agree more. "Unless they have them built into the camera, I'll sell rechargeables and I sell a lot of them," Rundle told PTN. "I will almost never sell a set of AAs with a digital camera."

But when it comes to alkalines for digital cameras, many photo dealers choose Panasonic Batteries which was the first company to introduce an AA-size oxy-alkaline battery to consumers that provides increased power for digital cameras. Dubbed "PowerEdge for Digital Cameras," the battery is reputed to last longer than any alkaline battery in digital still cameras. According to independent tests, PowerEdge powered four top digital still camera models for an average of 750 shots.

"With approximately 60 percent of digital still cameras using AA-size batteries, we foresee this new product enabling a large number of consumers to use their digital cameras even longer than before," said Brian Kimberlin, senior marketing manager of Consumer Batteries for the Panasonic Industrial Company, in PTN's recent "State of the Industry" report.ptn

For information about the latest battery releases, check out battery companies at the following websites and email addresses: Ansmann:

Battery Technology Inc.:

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