According to a recent study from InfoTrends, the use of retail photo printing services continues to grow. More consumers are ordering prints from photo kiosks, over-the-counter at their local retailer, and placing orders through a retailer's website for in-store pickup.
InfoTrends also reports that U.S. consumer digital photo print volumes will increase from 13.2 billion in 2005 to 16 billion in 2009, but will begin to show a slight decline in 2011.
While this is good news for retailers, however, the amount of new revenue opportunities within the photo printing market is decreasing, but one of the new opportunities on the horizon is photo merchandise, a broad category that includes items such as photo greeting cards, photo books, photo calendars, enlargements, and photo mugs. These items have caught the attention of consumers and retailers alike. Consumers like them because they make good gifts, and retailers like them because they are high-margin products.
InfoTrends' new study, "Photo Merchandise—Opportunities Beyond Prints," projects the North American photo merchandise market for photo books, greeting cards, calendars, posters, and various novelty items will increase at a compound annual growth rate of 24.5% through 2010, with revenues surpassing $800 million by the end of the forecast period.
Photo cards are the most common type of photo merchandise, followed by specialty photo prints (enlargements, framed photos, collage prints, and canvas prints). Photo books and calendars have also emerged as popular items with high growth potential. This is still a largely untapped market, as only 3.5 million U.S. households made a 'net-to-mail or 'net-to-retail online purchase of personalized photo merchandise in 2006.
Although these numbers bode well for retailers, they must continue to look at these ancillary services to keep their customers coming back to print, as well as helping them add to their bottom-line revenue streams. At PMA 2007 there was a host of retail output services on display that are available for camera specialty dealers and labs. Here's a look at some of them:
Getting the Stamp of Approval
Fujifilm (www.fujifilm.com) launched YourStamps, a new program that enables retailers to offer customers the ability to create personalized U.S. postage from their own digital images. YourStamps is said to be a cost-effective, turnkey solution that enables retailers to easily and cost-effectively capture a piece of the growing customized postage market. According to the U.S. Postal Service, the overall U.S. stamp market per year totals more than $22 billion, and research indicates that 15%–20% of consumers will "probably" or "definitely" purchase customized postage.
Developed in conjunction with mainstream technology leader Pitney Bowes, YourStamps revolutionizes the personalized postage market by bringing Fujifilm's proven imaging expertise to postage, resulting in a truly innovative new photo product. Unlike other personal postage offerings, YourStamps are big enough to properly highlight photographs or graphics. Consumers can choose from a wide variety of styles to create their postage, and can select either horizontal or vertical formats.
Fujifilm offers two ways for retailers to implement the YourStamps program. First, Fujifilm can set up a retailer-branded YourStamps ordering website where customers can create their postage and place their order. Or retailers can link directly from their own website to YourStamps.com. Consumers can then pick up their YourStamps finished order at the retail outlet or have it shipped directly to their mailing address. Both of these methods benefit the retailer, with additional purchase potential with in-store pickup or from the shipping and handling fees collected for "direct-to-home" orders.
Follow the Bouncing Ball
The BallStars Heat Transfer Systems (www.ballstars.com) can heat-transfer any image, logo, or text onto fully inflated sports balls cleanly, quickly, and most importantly, economically. Their products have been sold in the National Baseball Hall of Fame and the Pro Football Hall of Fame and have been featured in Sports Illustrated with Bill Walton and his three sons. BallStars Heat Transfer Systems are sold as complete turnkey business opportunities and as master distributorships around the world.
The company now offers a comprehensive professional package that includes everything you need to get started personalizing real sports balls with the photos and logos of customers. A little different from the company's other two startup packages, the Pro Automatic System includes a Dell laptop computer, a digital camera, a professional lighting and backdrop kit, a scanner, an air compressor, an 8-inch-wide heat presshead, and a much bigger inventory of sports balls.
A wide array of marketing materials are also a part of the package, including: a vinyl banner; a backlit, lighted sign; a countertop point-of-purchase display; five custom-packet POP systems; and two high-quality oak display cases that feature embroidered matting to show off the balls. Retailers have the capacity to produce professional, attractive, decorated photo balls in large and small sizes for baseball, softball, hockey, football, soccer, volleyball, golf, and basketball. In addition, ornaments also are available.
Putting All the Pieces Together
Brooke International (www.brookecutters.com) rolled out two new additions to their Jigsaw Puzzle Machine family with the HR-1218SA (a semi-automatic compact puzzle machine) and the HR-2030 (for cutting medium-format images into 500- and 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzles in sizes from 16x20-inches up to 20x30-inches).
The HR-1218SA is a semi-automatic version of the HR-1218 Hope Jigsaw Puzzle Machine and the newest of the compact Hope Machines. Puzzle-making is even simpler with the elimination of physical die handling, other than changing sheet size. The HR-1218SA also improves on the simple tasks of mounting an image, placing on the die, pressing the foot pedal, and creating a high-quality puzzle. But the HR-1218SA automates the die advance moving through the pressure rollers, and automatically stops at the completion of the cutting process.