An article in the recent PEN NEWS WEEKLY raised a question, "Cell Phone Camera Coming of Age?"
Consumers Likely To Print At Retail
Ed Lee, Director, Consumer Services & Photo Printing Trends Service, InfoTrends
Digital camera ownership in the U.S. has grown to over 50%, according to InfoTrends/CAP Ventures. As more consumers buy new digital cameras, they will be looking for places to print their photos, and they are very likely to choose a retail store.
Two emerging printing modes, Net-to-Retail and photo kiosks, will draw more people to retail stores. Net-to-Retail refers to prints ordered online from a retail or pure-play photo website that is then picked up at a store. Net-to-Retail incorporates the convenience of online ordering without the shipping charges and wait times associated with mail delivery. Consumers can pick up their prints from their local store in as little as an hour.
Photo kiosks represent another trend in retail photo printing. The use of a photo kiosk has become more of an experience driven activity rather than simply a means of obtaining prints. Many stores are equipped with multiple photo print kiosks or kiosk input terminals complete with chairs or stools that allow customers to relax while printing photos. Both methods are gaining popularity because they are sensitive to the evolving needs of consumers as they transition from film to digital photography.
Specialty Retailers Rate Highest Among Female Customers
Liz Cutting, Senior Account Manager, NPD Techworld
In the past, men may have been the primary drivers of sales in the CE space, but when it comes to digital imaging, "mom knows best" seems to be the picture of the future.
The female demographic is becoming a major player for photo specialty retailers and there are numerous ways retailers can capitalize on it to better increase sales.
In the last year, the mass merchant channel experienced the most digital camera revenue share gain, grabbing more than 1-in-5 digital still camera dollars spent among females. The good news for photo specialty retailers is that they were the only other channel to experience share growth from 2004, capturing 13% of revenue over the last 12 months (through June '05).
Compared to the top four retailers of DSC units over the past 12 months, photo specialty dealers ranked #1 in customer satisfaction among female buyers. While we expect excellence in photo specialty salesperson knowledge and customer respect, the surprising numbers were that photo specialty retailers were #1 in both price and value rankings.
And those rankings are making mass merchants take notice. But the key to customer retention and loyalty can be found in your channel's very nameó"specialty" retailer. Spread the word about your reputation as the specialist with the best value for mom's wallet and peace of mind.
Diversification Is Key To Success
Brent Bowyer, President and CEO, IPI (Independent Photo Imagers)
Since I last reported on this topic, I have seen my share of members' businesses experience sales decreases from processing rolls of film and printing 4x6 prints. I have also watched the constant downward spiral of retail photofinishing prices for prints from film and digital media among the mass merchants and online providers. Needless to say, both trends have placed increased pressure upon our members to maintain profitability. And that is the not so good news.
But here is the rest of the story:
At the IPI Members Meeting in San Diego just a few weeks ago, I have never had so many members tell me they have turned the corner and they are seeing steady and constant increases in printing from digital media. They have identified niche markets on which they are focusing and their persistence is paying off with INCREASED and PROFITABLE sales resulting from their management. They have cut the excesses from overhead that crept in during the 1990s and through 2001, and their businesses are now well staffed with seasoned, motivated employees. Many have made their last digital minilab payment or will be making it in the next six to nine months, and as a result of the excellent design and manufacturing of Agfa, Fuji, Konica Minolta, and Noritsu, they have equipment with an economic life in excess of the financeable life. In general, I found positive attitudes and members looking forward to going to work.
Will everyone achieve the gross sales numbers they posted in the late 1990s or in 2000 or in 2001? Maybe not. Will many be more profitable and have a more diversified business and a business model that does not depend primarily on one service? Yes. Will members exchange information about what has and has not worked well for them? Yes. And will the independent specialty retailer continue to evolve his or her business into one that is viable and profitable? Yes.
So from my vantage point and listening to IPI members, I see positive trends in our microcosm of the industry. Not everyone has reached the top of the mountain, and not everyone will reach the top of the mountain. Our members are, of course, very dependent on the successes of the major manufacturers and the entrepreneurs and their ability to provide opportunities for business expansion via traditional and niche markets.
Coping With Changes
Mike Worswick, President, PRO (Photographic Research Organization Inc.)
Rapid change is the challenge facing manufacturers and retailers today. Alvin Toffler predicted it in Future Shock. Thomas Friedman confirmed it in The World is Flat. Robert J. Samuelson summarized it: "Change has outpaced comprehension."