Magazine Article


Online Uploads to Retail A Growing Category: Ritz Switches to Kodak Gallery for One-Hour Pick-up
Retail Photofinishing Scene

In an interview with John Prendergast, Fuji's VP, Product and System Development, and Joe Welch, director of Digital Services, it was stated that there are 10,000 Fuji locations equipped to receive online orders.

John said that upload printing at retail "is a very healthy growth area." He estimates that within three years, uploading could bring in more print business to a retailer than the walk-in business. He feels that the driver to this trend is its convenience and the fact that "people are more web-savvy."

Fuji is also looking to the cameraphone as a future driver of online uploads and already has deals with Sprint, Cingular, and Nextel.

Carl Abissi is the owner of Cooper's Imaging, Norwalk, Conn., a firm that does about half of its business in the retail category and the other half in commercial, offering such services as on-site processing of E-6 and B&W. Carl claims to be one of Fuji's first photo specialists to sign onto the Get The Picture Online program and said it represents about 25% of all of his digital print business.

Three other major suppliers of upload-to-retailer software are LifePics and Lucidiom, which, in November, purchased Trevoli, developer of Photo Finale, and the Photogize program from Graphx.

Vahé Christianian, VP of Sales and Business Development for LifePics, claims to have 6,100 locations equipped for online uploading and expects this number to reach 10,000 by the end of the year. "We provide more online imaging service than any other competitor…by far," he said.

By adding the Ritz chain, LifePics unseated Fuji as the software system provider for Ritz's RitzPix. Vahé said there are "too many retailers that do not yet understand the power of the Internet."

Vahé estimates that within 3 years about one-third of retail photofinishing will be generated through online uploads. "Some dealers are already there," he said. All a dealer needs is a digital lab capability, a broadband connection, and a networked PC.

The online action with Photogize indicated a strong year, according to Joe Kowalik, president and CEO of Graphx. Unlike some of the other plans, Joe focuses his attention more on the independent photo specialist and claims about 1,000 locations.

In a year-over-year (Sept. '05-Sept. '06), same-store analysis, Joe said: online orders increased 63%; total images uploaded increased 105%; total prints increased 79%; order revenue increased 68%; average revenue per order increased 3% to $21.84. Certainly, a strong indication of the growth trend in the online-upload-to-dealer arena.

In addition, Joe reported that for the month of December, Photogize retailers processed more than 30,000 orders representing more than one million prints. He indicated the strong December was a result of the arrangement he has with PhotoTidings, which gave Photogize retailers over 400 holiday templates to offer customers. The average holiday card order was over $60, he claims.

Graphx also has other programs geared to online users: PostUp is designed for pro studios that can create online albums and take individual print orders, which Joe claims average more than $100. Another, PrintWizard, licenses a Photogize retailer to offer unique PC software that consumers can either download or pick-up from the retailer as a CD.

Lucidiom has been a strong player in the kiosk software business, claiming 39,000 licenses worldwide, and its Luci software system has been well received. Steve Giordano, Sr., president, said he felt the need to expand his service package with an online solution for retailers, which led to the acquisition of Trevoli and the Photo Finale online package in November. Steve sees the online upload business as a bright opportunity and expects it will grow to about 15% of a retailer's print action, though some of his accounts are already doing as much as 30%-40%.

Lucidiom already has a strong following with the PRO and IPI dealer groups with kiosk software and Steve is looking for support from that segment with his new Photo Finale acquisition.