Magazine Article


State of the Industry 2006 II

Sony Electronics
Digital is Here
Hiro Takahashi, Vice President, Digital Imaging

Itís vital for photo dealers and minilab owners to work harder to enrich the customer experience so that they can better compete with larger retailers. As a consumer electronics manufacturer, we would like to see more product benefits messaging as part of in-store merchandising tools instead of just basic feature listings and price. In addition to benefits-driven messaging, for example, itís also important to have knowledgeable, skillful employees who can provide helpful consultation to their customers.

Another important aspect of enriching the customer experience is having the products they want, when they want them. Itís important for retailers to work closely with manufacturers to accurately forecast demand in a timely manner. When projections are off, both retailers and manufacturers lose.

To remain competitive in todayís photo industry, itís also important to accept that the era of digital taking over film is over. We are in the second phase now. Digital is here.

This has been the year for the digital SLR. With new manufacturers entering the fray, including Sony, the competition is growing. There will be a big expansion in the under $1,000 digital SLR category. All manufacturers are trying to offer easy-to-use cameras that will appeal. We have more product SKUs and more players. This will continue into early 2007.

We need to continue to create added-value features to hardware so that people feel itís worth investing in digital photography. On the photo sharing side of the business, weíre seeing new usage patterns among consumers. People are using digital photography differently and itís centered on the internet.

There are new kinds of competitors entering the photo-sharing service industry who have their base in the internet world, such as Yahoo! and Google. They are creating a new business domain, and therefore, the traditional photo industry should take heed.

Tamron USA, Inc.
Understanding the Importance of Speed to Market
Tak Inoue, President

We can still expect drastic changes to come in 2007óin all aspects of our business. One strategic key to success in this new phase of our business is speed. Historically, the photographic industry did not have to respond so quickly to market changes as compared to other industries. However, as consumer electronics manufacturers like Samsung, Panasonic, Sony and others enter the photoimaging industry today, particularly in the DSLR segment of the market, there is a critical need for traditional manufacturers to speed up their development-to-market timeline. CE companies have much experience in the development and production race against the competition. In 2007, clear winners and losers in this race will be identified. Any company wishing to succeed going forward must meet market demands by modifying or changing products swiftly. Those with this crucial capability will be on top. Tamron USA is engaged in strictly distribution of product. Our challenge for the coming year is to communicate even more closely with our headquarters and factories regarding market trends, urgent needs and important issues and to help them understand the importance of speed in this new phase of our business.

Whitech USA
Excellent Customer Service is Rewarded by Loyalty
Korosh Delnawaz, President

With 2007 around the corner, the entire industry is working extremely hard to come up with creative products and services that can improve the bottom dollar and add to reasons why loyal and new customers should come back through our doors. I would say, that as an industry, we are having more success stories than setbacks, which are signs of a new, improved, successful and open minded industry.

One thing that will never change in our industry is that fact that we have always been a service based industry, and should never forget customer service. Customers flocked to us for the preservation of their memories, whether personal or business related, their hobbies, and their forget-me-not gift ideas, and they still do.

We now have better and faster ways of fulfilling customer needs and I think with all the new services and products available, integration is a key to success. Simplify your processes, increase capacity and capture data so you can spend more time on servicing your customers, and on loyalty programs. The need for our services will never change, just our business tools.

In the coming months study your customers closely and do not get caught up in over-hyped products and services. Always keep your customersí needs in the front of your mind.