Magazine Article


2004 Digital Minilab Roundtable

• A 2003 DIMA award-winning exposure system, now in all capacity levels;
• Best-priced line of digital minilabs in the market—from low-capacity to high-capacity digital labs we offer the best price;
• Lowest cost of operation—Lowest power consumption, one-year warranty on parts and labor, the industry’s only five-year Exposure System warranty and on-site training;
• The most standard features and accessories in the industry;
• POS sales support via posters, banners and in-machine couponing.

Kinsley: In 2003, we took a comprehensive approach to help support the independent retailers as a whole by offering a series of educational segments in our Success Seminar series, designed to help the retailer focus their message and position their business for the future. Specifically for our d-lab owners, we provided our award-winning Point of Sale kit to aid them in their quest for success. In 2004, Agfa will continue to provide independent retailers with opportunities for them to explore new growth and to refine their business.

Tereshkow: Konica Minolta is committed to this education process. Konica Minolta has developed the Digital U Program, which assists in educating the retailer’s lab technicians. This will enable them to better communicate to the consumer about the advantages and savings of outputting their digital files at retail rather than at home.

Perrine: In 2004, Kodak will run an unparalleled marketing program to drive the adoption of digital camera printing at retail. The program will consist of national television, radio, print and local marketing efforts, all geared toward making consumers aware of digital printing opportunities.

What is the biggest challenge for this product category in 2004?

Phillips: I hope it’s having enough product to fill customer demand! I suspect challenges will come from training customers on the use of our product when they are using a myriad of software programs that are right for their market.

And certainly education and awareness. Organizations like PMA must continue to provide mainstream data to the retailers, and manufacturers must provide the training and ability to offer all the new services and to make their equipment easier to operate and upgrade as the digital world changes. Retailers, in turn, must educate the consumer on their ability to offer more customized services. And they need to develop the same strong relationship they had with traditional camera owners to insure that hard copies are made in their store with fast turnaround and at a more attractive price than at-home options.

Fleming: Again, we believe the 2004 focus will really center on workflow. We also see the need to keep first-time digital camera–developing customers happy—if they get great results the first time they try this out, whether it’s at a self-service kiosk or through a digital minilab order, they’ll come back and continue to make prints.

Finally, now that there is such a large number of Frontiers installed across the country, it’s really about networking the base into something else, making the labs work for retailers and customers in a different way. That’s, again, where Get the Picture Online Service comes in. Using the national network, we can allow consumers in New York to order prints for relatives in Iowa or friends in California. This makes digital camera developing even more convenient for consumers, and opens up another revenue stream for retailers.

Lawrence: Consumer awareness of the Retail Digital Printing Value Advantage. With “Print at Home” competitors strongly promoting direct to consumer via television, radio and print ads, the retailer has to establish customer awareness. With no major manufacturer or materials supplier generically promoting “Retail Digital Print Fulfillment,” a heavy burden is placed upon the individual retailer. In summary, it comes back to new value-added digital services that are available with the new digital minilabs. The retailer needs to make his customers aware of “Retail Digital Print Fulfillment” and increase the specialty digital print services in the form of value-added services.

Kinsley: With tax incentives ending mid-year, we expect retailers will respond by upgrading their businesses and positioning themselves for the future. One challenge they face is knowing how many kiosks to buy. What we continue to see is that retailers are getting more and more consumers embracing these devices, and capacity on demand is critical to keep them coming back.

Tereshkow: The biggest challenge to this product category is getting the message out to the consumer that they should come to retail to print the digital images that they really want. The majority of digital images today are sitting at home on consumers’ PC hard drives. They simply have not made the connection that they can get the same quality prints that they have always received with analog cameras. It’s the responsibility of everyone in the industry to follow PMA’s lead ( by promoting the printing of digital images.

Perrine: The incredible growth of on-site photofinishing over the last decade has left the industry with a large amount of excess capacity. Retailers need to consider new, profitable ways to use that capacity beyond basic 4 x 6 prints, whether from film or digital sources. We, as an industry, must communicate to the consumer the availability and benefits of printing digital images at retail. The longer we let that message go unheard, the more people will become accustomed to not printing those pictures. The message is simple—the digital camera memory card is today’s roll of film, and you can have those pictures printed in all the same places you’re used to taking your film. Retailers need to be ready for the volume of digital print business that’s coming their way. Ironically, many of the early digital labs were real good at printing from film, but incredibly slow when printing from digital media, and very inefficient if a consumer ordered any ancillary products along with their 4 x 6 prints. It’s time to consider a more efficient solution that will let the retailer more easily offer new products and services.