Magazine Article


2006 State of the Distributor Industry

The industry should recognize that the buying public and dealers are overwhelmed with too-frequent model changes, and that changes that simplify rather than complicate the taking of pictures is an unfilled category that is in need of designers’ attention.

Broaden Your Offerings in the Digital Marketplace

Fred Towns, Senior Vice President, New Age Electronics

The marketplace is changing. To compete in the market, smaller independent retailers, with their distributor partners, need to provide broader offerings to their customers.

Retailers can start by providing new brands and product bundles that offer complete solutions from picture to print. Beyond traditional pairings of the same brand, new solutions can include a digital camera, printer, ink, and paper, all from different manufacturers. Distributors with broad product offerings can help facilitate the packaging and marketing of these solutions, providing retailers with an edge over the competition.

Customers use the internet to price products, both before and after their purchase. Even the smallest shop should have a Web presence to instill pricing confidence, in addition to providing consumers with information and accessory options when they leave the store. Combined with weekly inventory shipments from distributors like New Age to supply e-sales, retailers can satisfy their customers and grow profits.

Independent retailers can continue to offer the personalized sale that differentiates them from large chains. But as the market changes, they, too, must redefine their offerings to keep customers coming in the door.

Meeting the Needs of Your Customers

Jay Klein, President, Notions Marketing

The scrapbooking market brings to the photo market a very key demographic—young to middle-age women, offering the photo retailer an avenue for increasing their customer base and possibly increasing their average register ring. The scrapbook category has been one of the fastest-growing retail categories for several years running. It also returns higher-than-average margins. With the ever-increasing base of scrapbook consumers, it’s a natural for photo dealers to capitalize on the opportunity by offering scrapbook and photo décor supplies.

One of the keys to competing in an ever-changing marketplace is to really know your customer. Execute a plan to really understand your market and your customer; chances are you will find she enjoys sharing her photos and memories with friends and family in her scrapbooks!

With a diverse view of the market, distributors are able to provide insight into market trends, product trends, and more. In a market of subjective sales messages, it’s refreshing to obtain objective information that only a distributor can provide.

In an ever-changing market, retailers need partners who provide solutions: custom planograms, endcaps, promotions, top reports, electronic order devices, ad plans, and more. Distributors specialize in tools that benefit the independent retailer. A good distributor is constantly looking for ways to meet the needs of their customer, the independent retailer, in innovative and technologically progressive ways.

We have found that as independent retailers implement some of the technology on the market to analyze their business, such as point-of-sale or replenishment systems, a fundamental business strategy often becomes apparent—execute a plan to increase turn and minimize slow sellers. With the distributor offering split packs, no minimum order, free freight, very high fill rates, and same-day shipping, merchants are simply able to increase turn and profit. What’s the role of a good distributor? To increase your turn and profit!

The photo imaging market should be doing all the things that all truly successful retailers do: study your competition, hire and keep strong employees, challenge your suppliers, offer exemplary customer service, market your points of differentiation, really get to know your customer, and always be on the lookout for new opportunities. Is scrapbooking a new opportunity? Absolutely! We encourage you to investigate what the scrapbooking market has to offer. We are sure you will find innovation, people who are passionate about their product and business, and best of all, an avenue to expand your store traffic and customer base.

Accessories Are Key to Overall Consumer Enjoyment of Photography

Steven Tiffen, President & CEO, Tiffen

The ever-changing state of our industry has many of us perplexed as to how we can grow our business and attract more customer interest. One thing that has stayed a constant in our changing imaging category is the consistent need and ongoing profitability of accessories. Today there is a great fascination with the new world of digital photography. Consumers are always looking to understand how to take digital pictures and ultimately how to access them and share them much in the same way they did with silver halide pictures. Once your customers have achieved a level of understanding with the basics of digital photography, it will be accessories that keep them coming back to the store to improve their overall photographic experience.

Fortunately for you, the imaging retailer, the very same accessories that sold so well and are so needed by your customers for their traditional cameras are still in great demand for digital cameras as well. Core accessories like optical filters, camera bags, tripods, and other fundamental add-ons are key to helping your customers achieve total satisfaction from their photographic experience. While new adaptations of these accessory categories have been introduced, the ability to manipulate light through the lens, keeping the camera stable and having a system to transport your camera safely and with style are key to your customers’ needs.

At Tiffen, we have consistently adapted our accessory lines to the changing camera environment while keeping the customer’s needs in the forefront of our product development. With world-class name brands and quality innovative products, we are the one source for infinite solutions to assist our customers in getting the most out of their picture-taking experience, all the while keeping your profitability at its best.