In order to succeed, retailers must examine and assess the salability of a product even before it reaches the marketplace. Then they must accept that a disruptive technology or product may be announced just as the first product arrives in the store for sale.
Retailers must cope with these changes. It means making decisions with less than all the information. Intuitive decision making is the key to prosperity in the years to come.
This is where a cooperative group is of paramount importance. Retailers working together can assess technology, share intuitive thoughts and then make action decisions. Caution must always be used in the process. There is a danger of making such a costly error that it drives an enterprise into bankruptcy. Yet steps must be taken into the unknown.
The second challenge is the lack of profit margin for manufacturers and retailers. When profits are strong, retailers can experiment and invest in new ideas. Taking risk for a profitable enterprise is easier. Today most retailers have very low net profits. Others are losing money on an operating basis. One significant intuitive mistake can cause downfall.
Unfortunately not making changes will insure a downfall. It may just take longer as the firm wastes away. Customers will move on to retailers who provide new goods and services they've discovered elsewhere—and that may be online or at a physical store.
Suppliers too face challenges. They invest in technology. Competitors cut prices to the bone, reducing margins for everyone. As suppliers feel the pain; they reduce retailer margin, national, and co-op advertising. For a successful future, more players need to make a reasonable return on investment. Super size retailers are dictating prices, policies, and terms that leave manufacturers and other retailers crippled.
Out Of The Darkroom, Into The Lab
Bryan Lamkin, Senior VP, Digital Imaging and Digital Video Business Unit, Adobe Systems
Digital imaging as a cure for cancer?
Considering the importance digital images have assumed in our culture, it is not as far-fetched as it sounds. Digital imagery's flexibility and ability to be shared, instantly and electronically, delivers an unprecedented opportunity to chronicle, understand, and communicate with the world. The same desire for instant connectivity and understanding that prompts a new mother to buy a digital camera to share baby pictures with a far-away grandmother is also prompting professionals to adopt a digital workflow.
One third of Photoshop users are non-creatives like doctors, engineers, architects, forensics experts, and policemen, who are revolutionizing their fields with digital imagery to help understand diseases, build sturdier homes, and solve crimes. Consider that just 10 years ago, a doctor may have had to perform surgery to discover what Photoshop is able to identify today on a digital CAT scan, and the everyday revolutionary impact of the digital image in practice is clear.
Because of tools like universal image editing standard Adobe Photoshop and Adobe DNG, digital images are making their most profound impact quietly behind office and laboratory doors—enabling professionals to visualize solutions, communicate concepts, and deliver a higher quality of service to patients and clients with the assurance that their digital breakthroughs will be accessible for years to come.
Women Consumers Become Even More Important For Photo Retailers In 2005
Bing Liem, President and CEO, AgfaPhoto USA
One of the exciting trends of 2005 in our industry is that women are embracing digital photography faster than expected. We've long known that moms are the family photo archivists, but we've also seen the tendency for them to be less inclined to adopt new technologies until the added value of the new technology is proven. With digital, the adoption has been much faster then expected, as women have been strongly motivated by the realization that digital photography enables them to capture many more of their cherished family moments than ever before.
Photo retailers can promote this trend by making the fulfillment of prints as easy as possible. To that end, retailers have to inspire customer loyalty in their women customers by giving them an experience of comfort and satisfaction that keeps them coming back. Just putting the right point-and-shoot solution into their hands isn't enough. You also have to create an inviting environment, where it's easy to browse and buy, use digital front-ends to process and personalize photos, and interact with employees in positive ways that associate the retailer with a satisfying picture-taking experience. In particular, amenities like beverage service, ample workspace, children's play-centers, etc., are becoming important as differentiators.
Also important in capitalizing on this trend is the need for retailers who have not already done so to undertake an infrastructure upgrade. That means adding multiple kiosks and doing a 'minilab makeover'—i.e., installing a digital processing lab and finishing options that allow the production of rich, personalized output like books and collages. By combining images and text, these output products mark the 'creative frontier' for consumers. In addition, retailers who want to offer their customers the maximum in convenience can implement Internet connectivity, allowing customers to upload digital images from home, and pick up the prints at retail. These kinds of efforts on the part of retailers to 'dial up' the comfort level of their operation will do much to drive the traffic and revenue gains retailers are seeking.
Exploit Your Opportunities
Mark Roth, President, Argraph Corporation
The Photo Industry continues to face monumental changes, and those who are able to adapt are prospering. Digital has surpassed traditional photography and retailers who have embraced digital and found new profit opportunities are reaping the rewards. While digital cameras are driving sales in both photo specialty and mass market, there are huge opportunities that photo specialty dealers are uniquely positioned to exploit.
The keys to exploiting these opportunities are: Differentiate, Accessorize, Print, and Create Store Traffic.