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Ritz Camera Leverages Shift to Digital with Partnership
A photo book manufacturer helps it to retain customers, maximize profits by offering in-house photo book making



Today, Unibind announced its newly formed partnership with national photo retailer Ritz Camera Centers. Through the agreement, Ritz customers can make Unibind photo books in-store from their digital printouts using the latest technology from the Belgium-based company, which allows users to permanently insert their images into a sleek, hardback book in a variety of sizes.

The Unibind/Ritz arrangement is a standout example of how photo industry firms can adjust to the digital imaging revolution that has changed the landscape of the retail photo industry.

Catering to the Digital Consumer

Consumers now have greater control over how they print their photographs thanks to the flexibility of digital cameras. And while this is great news for their customers, retail photo chains worldwide have lost the traditional profit centers of film and photo development.

"The fact is that when people had rolls of film, they needed to print them all out to see them," said Rich Tranchida, executive vice president of Ritz Camera Centers. "Now, with their digital cameras, they just see them all on their LCD camera and decide which ones to print. Digital has affected the whole photography industry."

With the purchase of film no longer a mainstream necessity, photo retailers have been searching for more options to provide to their customers for their digital images. This is a challenge Ritz Camera accepted when joining forces with Unibind, maker of photo book and binding products.

"We looked at other products, but we were attracted to the good quality and value of [Unibind] photo books," said Tranchida. "Their ease of use is perfect for production in our stores."

Expanding the Photo Book Market

The past 18 months have been a transitional period for Unibind with the rapid expansion of the consumer photo book market. Through use of its photo books, Ritz customers will be able catalogue their images into a self-binding book display, a function Rusty Redecker - director of sales and marketing for Unibind North America - said became apparent through public request.

"In late 2006, we received many inquiries on how our products could be used in retail stores, and we adapted towards that," said Redecker. "We recognized that our products fit the retail strategy perfectly producing a professional quality photo book in minutes."

In addition to national retailers like Ritz, Unibind has become the binding solution of choice for many photo kiosk manufacturers, such as Lucidiom. For Tranchida, the combination of Ritz's digital photo services, Lucidiom Kiosks, and Unibind binding and display capabilities was a win-win solution.

"About six years ago, Ritz moved to the digital arena by giving our customers the capability to print from their digital cameras," Tranchida said. "We also expanded our capabilities to make big prints and gift items. Our customers were looking for more options, and that's what we gave them."

Traditionally a direct sales company in the business-to-business market, Unibind's newly formed relationship with Ritz Camera is another step toward the company's transition into the retail sector. And while Unibind still serves businesses worldwide through the binding capabilities of products such as its XU series Thermal Binding Systems, Redecker said serving the everyday consumer would remain a key initiative in the future.

About Unibind

Unibind is the North American arm of Peleman Industries, a privately held manufacturer of binding, laminating and presentation products founded in 1939. With its worldwide headquarters in Puurs, Belgium, the company opened its U.S. corporate office in Alpharetta, Ga., in 1999. Today, Unibind products are distributed on six continents in more than 100 countries. For more information, visit www.unibind.com.

About Ritz Interactive, Inc.

Ritz Interactive is an award-winning, specialty online retailer and e-commerce service provider that operates a network of websites offering high quality, branded lifestyle products. Since its inception in Irvine, California in 1999, the company has become a leader in providing a full selection of photographic and consumer electronics products as well as a wide range of marine, boating and fishing products, at competitive prices for online shoppers.

Ritz Interactive's leading photo-specialty and consumer electronics e-commerce websites are RitzCamera.com and WolfCamera.com, while the company's leading marine e-commerce website is BoatersWorld.com. Each of the individually branded and marketed websites offers a broad and deep selection of competitively priced products and brings an established brick-and-mortar reputation to the company's e-commerce platform.

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