Magazine Article


Camera Stop Goes 100% Digital
Plano's camera stop takes the plunge and goes all digital.

Jeff Goulston, owner of Camera Stop, located in Plano, TX.
Jeff Goulston, owner of Camera Stop, located in Plano, TX.
The store offers three Whitech kiosks that print to a Konica Super R-1 minilab.
The store offers three Whitech kiosks that print to a Konica Super R-1 minilab.

"We looked hard and long when establishing our digital-only photofinishing business," Goulston continues. "Expandability and flexibility were key considerations. Having kiosks to enable our customers to enter their digital work was not an option but a requirement for our business.' We realized that customers perceive the digital experience differently and that each customer wants to work through the process of entering their order in their own way.'

"Flexibility was a key consideration in selecting a kiosk solution," adds Goulston.' "The Whitech PhotoTeller solution allows our customers to assemble and edit an order as they see fit. The kiosk's ability to display each picture's file name and permit the selection of single or multiple photos enable our customers to work from their 'pick lists' and efficiently enter their order.' From a lab perspective, integration was a key consideration.' The Whitech solution directly interfaces with the Konica Super R1, as well as almost every other digital mini lab.

"The Konica Super R1 represented the most scalable digitally centric solution in the marketplace. The ability to independently add front-ends or back-ends as our business dictates gives us a competitive advantage against labs that are running the more monolithic offerings. Not having to complete a 'forklift upgrade' as our business grows enables us to better time expansions and exceed our customer expectations. With regards to flexibility, the Super R1 permits us to have paper magazines for each surfaces and in all the common sizes while allowing interchanges with virtually no waste. This has enabled Camera Stop to exceed our customers' expectation by offering all size prints on all surfaces with one-hour service."'

Goulston also offers customers a choice of online options. "We provide other vehicles such as uploading to the Web," he says. "We have a number of ways in which customers can get their images to us. We are a member of IPI, so we use their service facility they provide for us for online photofinishing. Customers love the idea of being able to upload their images for printing, and then come into the store to pick them up."

Camera Stop boasts an aggressive FTP site for their pro customers. In addition, their Labtricity service allows pros to submit images from all over the country. "We have beefed up our services for the pro, and our pro business has been picking up because of it," he says. "Most pro labs offer a three- to four-day turnaround. We are offering them next-day service. As long as it is submitted to us by 6pm Central Time, it will be ready for pickup or shipping the next morning, guaranteed."

He is also moving into wide-format printing. The lab features an Epson 7600 printer for making poster prints. "We can turn around large-format work in about an hour," he says. Other special services include in-store framing.

While Goulston operates Camera Stop with the sophistication of an established chain, it's his specialty programs that are helping to bring customers back to the store. A camera purchase comes with 10 free prints a month for one year and a one-hour lesson. This gives people a reason to shoot some pictures and use the camera on a regular basis," he says. "We also offer digital photography classes. With every camera we sell, we offer them a free class. About one-quarter of our participants are paying for it because they purchased their cameras elsewhere and need help."

They hold the class in the store one night each month. Due to space, they limit the size of the class to 12 people. "In the class we go over basic digital education and try to provide one-on-one attention," says Goulston. "When you purchase a digital camera and you have questions, you first read the manual. It's going to tell you how to make every setting change on that camera; however, it's not going to tell you when to use those setting changes. That's what we try to bring to light in the class. We also try to stress the values of digital photography and make it a fun, full experience for the customer."

One other program that's drawing raves from customers is their PhotoPak prepaid photo cards. "We offer the PhotoPak card, which allows customers to prepurchase photos just like buying long-distance service. Customers can prepurchase 1,000 4 x 6 prints at 18 cents apiece ($179.99), and there is no expiration date. PhotoPak can save them as much as 35% on prints. It's been very successful for us. On average, my customers output about 20 prints per month. One of my customers goes through one of those 1,000 packs every three months."

As digital camera sales continue to rise, he feels that consumers are finally starting to get it when it comes to making digital prints at retail. "Preservation of memories has begun to play big role in helping fuel the demand for digital printing at retail," he says. "People are starting to realize that they can't have files sitting on their desktop waiting to be lost. They also don't want to spend lots of time and money making prints at home. I think we have addressed the price issue nicely with the PhotoPak card. Consumers are finally starting to do their homework and so are we as an industry."

Imager Snapshot

Camera Stop

TYPE OF LAB: They consider themselves a hybrid lab. From 10am to 6pm they're a retail lab.'During the second and third shift, they exclusively do commercial work.'

CUSTOMER BASE: An even mix of commercial and retail.

SPECIAL SERVICES: They are the only retail lab that offer 4 x 6 to 24 x 36 in one hour.'In fact, all of their photofinishing products are on a one-hour'basis.'They're also the only retail lab in the area that offers multiple printing surfaces in all sizes.'

SPECIAL NICHES: In the'photofinishing area, wide format'is one of their key niches.' They also offer complete video services, including the ability to print photos from frames of video.'Another factor that differentiates Camera Stop is that they can work with a customer from capture to output.'

DO THEY SELL MEDIA CARDS?: They carry the six predominant form factors from two major manufacturers.' They'carry all sizes from 16MB to 2GB (where available).