So yes, our industry has changed dramatically in the last several years. The only way to compete in this marketplace is to see the changes for what they really are—opportunities. At Canon we've pursued those opportunities and are proud to be the only company in the industry to offer products in every imaging category.
Turning Consumers Into Customers
John Clough, President, Casio, Inc.
Competing in today's photo marketplace can be very challenging. To stand out in the crowd, its important to identify the products and services that differentiate minilab owners from the big box stores and national retailers. Independent retailers should concentrate their sales efforts by promoting the brands and models that provide the maximum profit potential, rather than offering the broadest line of models from an overcrowded and volatile digital camera marketplace. Casio offers a feature laden and value priced line-up, maximizing the profit potential for our valued retail customers. Expanding digital processing services to include photo restorations, posters, and scrapbooking can also help to increase sales and profits for minilab owners and independent photo retailers.
Focus on making the best possible shopping experience for each consumer. Sales staffs should be technically knowledgeable and well versed in building, maintaining, and enriching the relationship dynamic between consumer and retailer. This relationship building can help turn a consumer into a customer.
As we look to 2006, digital still cameras, which are capable of recording MPEG-4 video movies will increase in the number of models offered by most manufacturers. Casio has been leading the way with this added feature since the introduction of the EXILIM EX-Z750 and EX-P505 at last February's PMA Show, along with the recently introduced EX-S500 camera.
Put The Right Camera First, The Sale Second
Dan Schwab, VP, Marketing, D&H Distributing
The most important thing a photo dealer or minilab owner can do, to better compete in today's marketplace, is to try to think of sales in terms of putting the right camera first—and the sale second. Make sure to offer your customers in-house, digital image processing. Must-sell categories that are hot include: storage; software for archiving, editing, and printing; and photo paper and ink cartridges.
As we move into 2006, DSLRs will become more mainstream, as prices drop. The trend toward smaller cameras loaded with features and larger LCDs will continue. If they aren't doing so already, dealers should be offering classes on digital archiving, for example, a "How-to" with Adobe software, or another image editing program, otherwise thousands of consumer's images will be forever lost.
Technology Leads To New And Exciting Directions
Martin Wood, CEO, Delkin Devices Inc.
Imagination, and a good, well thought out plan beats almost every challenge you face, whether it's overcoming price competition, keeping good employees or generating new customers. Don't keep doing what you did before if it doesn't work—try something new. Those who are terrified of failure never find anything new. A good failure now and then can aim you towards the "WOW" idea that sets you off in a new and exciting direction.
Moving into 2006, wireless is how we'll make, store, and print images, whether we need it or not. Multi-function personal assistants are melding phones, organizers, cameras, and music products together. Some will be winners, some will be eBay specials. The best money will continue to be made in the space between the camera and the output device.
Making technology easy, accessible and fun hooks consumers. When a novice can produce a leather-bound photo album with custom lettering and perfect family pictures in an hour, for $80, people get excited. She'll proudly show this to everyone she knows, and you'll have a line out your door. I cringe when store owners tell me they don't stock inexpensive photo printers because "customers who print at home never come back." I usually ask, "Is that the reason you aren't selling enlargers and chemicals?"
Know What Your Customers Want
Kevin R. Donohue, CEO, Digital Portal Inc.
The key to understanding and being successful in the industry change to digital imaging, is to understand what is happening at the point of sale.
What is OUT: The use of a drop-box and orders of 2X from unprocessed negatives.
What is IN: The new digital customer wants, and will really demand, a comfortable, semi-private location in the retail store, to view, manipulate, and print his or her pictures.
As more and more digital camera owners understand and appreciate the availability of retail digital services, they will come to retail for their imaging needs directly or online. These trends are starting already.
Progressive retailers have made the change, more are in the process, and some will decide to vacate the market.
It's an energized and exciting time in our business, and the move to digital will prove profitable to all that make the needed adjustments.