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

There are retailers and suppliers who are in denial, others who either refuse to change (or are too afraid to), while others are accepting the fear of the unknown and accepting the challenges of today's marketplace to change, adapt, and thrive.

Retailers and suppliers have many more options today than before. One dealer makes packages of digital accessories that he offers with every digital camera sold. He sells the cameras alone for the same low price as the mass merchants, but offers service and advises the customers of the many profitable accessories that would enhance the customer experience. A very large percentage of customers purchase several of the accessories with the camera. The dealer is very successful. Quite simply, virtually every photo imaging retailer could do this.

At International Supplies, our goal is to help the independent photo imaging retailer succeed by offering them large stock and low pricing, so they to can sell profitable accessories and thrive.

The Next Chapter of Digital Photography
Garry Green, President, Liberty Photo Products

Digital photography is liberating the creative face of consumers. They're experimenting, taking more pictures than ever, and looking for new ways to print. Most importantly, consumers are discovering how digital photography allows them to easily share pictures and provides the freedom to use photography as a form of self-expression.

Suppliers and retailers who develop solutions that allow consumers to easily personalize the world around them will experience greater customer loyalty and higher margin potential on the products that are being offered. As minilab solutions shrink in footprint, the ability to drive new sources of revenue increases. Whether it is onsite community document printing, book fulfillment, calendars, wide-format printing, photo jewelry, or a host of other exciting products, the ability to fulfill onsite is getting easier and less expensive.

As with most products and services offered, customer loyalty is fueled by a differentiated experience: service, quality products, simplicity, and a clear message about the products and services offered. The key is to leave the customer feeling good.

Liberty is actively developing new products and services that help drive new sources of revenue with respectable profit potential for retailers, professional photo labs, central labs, and photographers. Our team is experienced and committed to help write the next chapter of digital photography.

Changing With the Market
Mark Rezzonico, Vice President, MAC Group

The digital revolution has brought about the most rapidly changing environment since the development of photography itself. Products evolve faster than ever before and have a shorter lifespan, with new innovations making previous models obsolete.

While photographers search for the new equipment, the photographic dealer is expanding their offerings to compete with mass merchants like Best Buys or Staples, which now sell DSLRs, printers, and many of the other tools pro photographers use.

Supporting the traditional photo dealer has always been a mission of MAC Group. We change with the market to give dealers a competitive edge by offering a complete photographer toolbox through a single supplier. In recent years, lines like Leaf, X-Rite, Eizo, and Pantone have been added to our product portfolio to give dealers a single source to satisfy the needs of their customers and reduce their operating costs through working with a single supplier.

In addition, advertising, both in print and on the web, gives photographers information about the products with constant messaging to see their local photographic dealer to learn more. In the past, the other camera store down the block was the competitor. Today, the internet, mass merchants, and large electronic retailers are. Helping the local dealer stay competitive in products and services by adapting to the industry's changes and by driving photographers to support the local camera store is the responsibility of every manufacturer and distributor.

Guiding Retailers to Help Them Keep Current
Fred Towns, Senior VP, New Age Electronics

Imaging products are converging in distinctly different ways, which is presenting a significant challenge to the small photo-centric retailer. While one customer might enter the store interested to learn how a particular camera interfaces with a computer for advanced editing or file-sharing purposes, another customer might be concerned simply with how a certain camera connects to a printer and creates a print they can share with friends. Then there are additional concerns, including data storage, portability, connectivity, and skill level-the list goes on. It's becoming increasingly difficult for small retailers to stay on top of product and customer trends in order to manage their supply chain effectively.

For this reason, small retailers are looking to New Age to serve as a product expert, which translates to understanding suites of products-or how products interface and work together to meet particular customer needs. It's our job to not only understand the breadth and functionality of all products available, but also to understand industry trends that correlate directly to the way customers are shopping. We guide retailers on how to stock the right products and how to keep them current. We also ensure that when a given product combination is placed on the retail floor, it's a competitive offering and the best and most current solution at that moment to suit the customer's needs. Essentially, it's our job to guide retailers where we see trends in the industry, and where we believe there's safety and intelligence in product offerings.

Distributor's Role as Consultant
Mike Wodushek, VP, New Business Development, Pakor/Photoland

The role of the distributor is more important than ever before as manufacturers look for ways to reduce operating expenses. Distributors provide a way for retailers to work on "just in time" inventory control. We stock large quantities of the products retailers need to help prevent back orders or shortages that can occur with manufacturers. Today distributors should serve as consultants and new business development managers to their customers. Distributors carry many different product lines and should customize a program to fit each client's need. We research emerging technology and carefully study the return on investment before we take a product to market. Our buying power allows us to provide competitive prices, and our relatively small size allows us to handle individual orders at large order prices.

To be an effective distributor, one must embrace the role I have listed above. When you work with a good distributor, you feel like you have a partner who shares in your goal of success.