New Amazon Photo Store Will Offer Tens of Thousands of Imaging Products
by Dan Havlik
Where Amazon.com once offered "thousands" of photo products, its new partnerships with Ritz and Adorama allow the online retail giant to sell "tens of thousands" of imaging-related goods to the public, Amazon officials said.
"Amazon's Camera & Photo store already had excellent selection and excellent pricing but we really wanted to deepen our selection in areas we didn't focus on which are pros and advanced amateurs," said David Arron, senior manager of Amazon.com's Partner Management. "Our partnership with Ritz and Adorama now allows us to offer literally thousands of new items for the advanced amateur and pro such as photo backdrops, filters, darkroom equipment, tripods, bags and cleaners."
Like Amazon's partnerships with J&R, Office Depot and Circuit City, Ritz and Adorama will provide fulfillment for photo products that Amazon doesn't normally stock and Amazon will receive a commission for facilitating the sale through its site.
"Adding these different partners allows better availability in all photo categories," said Lance Binley, director of Amazon's Consumer Electronics store. "So if we run out of a product, the good news is that there's now a known entity that has it."
The decision to add higher-end digital cameras and professional photography equipment resulted from information gleaned from customers who used Amazon's search feature. "Our database shows that people were searching for these items and getting a 'null' result," Arron said.
Although Amazon.com doesn't provide the person-to-person help of a "brick and mortar" photo specialty store, Binley argued that the site's editorial "browse notes" and its customer reviews help buyers make the right choices.
"And we find that the photography community is one of the most informed communities out there. So we rely a lot on the user," he said. "So far we've had a very modest return rate, about half that of what brick and mortar encounters."
According to Amazon studies, most visitors to Amazon's Photo & Camera store are "higher educated, have higher disposable incomes and are earlier adopters" than typical consumers and don't need as much assistance, said Ling Hong, a spokesperson for Amazon.com.
Hong declined to say who the site's direct competitors would be, whether other online retailer or traditional brick-and-mortar retailers. "We don't really focus on the competitors. We just focus on the customers," she said.
While Amazon's expansion into the online photo retail market might give some smaller brick-and-mortar sellers pause, Binley doesn't see a conflict. "I don't think one has to replace another," he said. "Certainly it's a big enough industry that there's room for both."