Magazine Article


Distributor 2007 State of the Industry

Mark Roth
Barb Brandess
Paul Wild
Bruce Kuperman
Rob Eby
Doug Pircher
Garry Green
Fred Towns
Mike Wodushek

Our strong relationships with both our customers and our vendors allow us to aid as a conduit in problem solving and communication. We can circulate information from a supplier to our customers-and feedback from our customers to a variety of suppliers-quickly and effectively, with the impact that comes from speaking for numerous sources. A suggestion or question from a customer in California might lead to a new product or solution that helps a retailer in Ohio. Our mission is to bring value-added products to our customers that help increase their profitability, and that's the goal every day at BKA.

Building a Successful Brand Starts With Quality
Paul Wild, President, Bogen Imaging

Poor craftsmanship and shoddy performance can leave an awful taste in a customer's mouth. This is certainly true in the photo/imaging market, as photographers turn to specialty retailers for solutions they can trust to deliver the best possible results in any situation.

Specialty retailers occupy a unique and valuable place in the retail landscape, which is largely based on consumers' trust in them for expert guidance and quality not found in large, mass-market retail chains. As such, it is essential that specialty photo retailers maintain that trust by knowing exactly what they're selling and standing behind it with confidence.

Recent issues concerning the safety and quality of a wide variety of products imported from China underscore the dangers and risks associated with taking shortcuts. Trust, confidence, and reputation can suffer irreparable damage in the blink of an eye.

Stocking brands that stand for quality and have a history of solid, reliable performance is now more important than ever. A photo retailer should never gamble with the trust of their customers by stocking a brand that they wouldn't use themselves. With a quality brand, retailers can also rest assured that they will never stand alone when it comes to service and support, allowing them to market their product offerings with confidence. Ultimately, quality is what will give a specialty photo retailer the ability to enhance and build their own brand image, achieve long-term customer loyalty, and help drive sales as a trusted source of top-quality photo accessories.

Education Is the Key
Bruce Kuperman, Sr. VP of Sales, DBL Distributing

I foresee the photo industry adopting a convergence of new technology. Wireless applications would likely be integrated with Bluetooth. New cameras would have the ability to transfer photos and videos to a PC without cords. Developing formats are now being deployed on digital cameras that allow pictures to be formatted for eBay use or video for youtube.

The ease of use for digital cameras and for the transfer of the image to the printer, PC, or internet will be key to increasing customer satisfaction and sales. Distributors can help independent photo retailers by providing training and marketing information, which the manufacturers pass onto them. This information will provide the photo retailer with the benefits and strengths of this new technology and pass it along to the end user. The use of digital photography and the latest features will no longer be targeted for the early adopter. The easier the functionality for the end user, the more end users will migrate to the product.

Education is the key! DBL's sales and marketing teams allow a photo retailer to stay competitive by educating them on all new products and technology available, as well as providing the inventory for retailers to gain a better array of product selection for their consumers. DBL's same price policy, whether you buy 1 or 100 of any product, allows a retailer to buy what they need, when they need it. This concept eliminates inventory overhead and allows them to stock their shelves wide, not deep.

Our marketing, purchasing, and sales teams work together to ease the supply chain demand for the independent retailer. Our buying teams work closely with manufacturers to forecast the needs of today's retailers. This advantage allows retailers to have the right products at the right time. DBL Distributing has supported the independent retailer for over 18 years. Our sales, marketing, and buying strategy has not changed. We work for the independent retailer.

Renewed Interest in Accessories
Rob Eby, Dir. of Purchasing, D&H Distributing

The summer was challenging since many people are happy with their five-megapixel cameras, and there aren't a lot of new differentiators. To combat this, manufacturers are using color to create new demand. Cameras aren't just silver and black anymore; they're blue, pink, and yellow. With such variety, distributors can help merchants by allowing them to stock a single color and just show a palette of others, which can be delivered next-day.

The same goes for accessories like lenses and batteries. Canon alone offers 20 to 30 different lenses for its DSLRs, and photo retailers can't cost-effectively shelve this kind of breadth. They can show a selection, however, and we'll hold inventory on the rest. As the market diversifies, retailers are learning to leverage distribution more for these purposes.

The DSLRs are helping to reinvigorate the market. These purchasers are showing renewed interest in multiple lenses, tripods, and flashes that haven't sold in years. Some of these are big-ticket items: $500 and $600 on average for a lens, with some going for $2,500. There's a significant incremental revenue opportunity for retailers to go back and market high-end accessories to existing SLR purchasers.

Other developments like anti-shake and face recognition can drive business, but retailers need to publicize them more. Manufacturers in the imaging industry need to better educate retailers about their latest and greatest capabilities, which even in a quiet market can motivate the consumer to upgrade.

Change, Adapt, And Thrive
Doug Pircher, GM, International Supplies

2007 is a challenging year for many photo imaging retailers and suppliers. While digital cameras and accessories have been accepted by retailers, many believe they can't make profits competing with mass merchants on cameras, while their photofinishing business has declined significantly. This theme has essentially repeated itself more than once in the last 20 or more years.