Photo Book & Creative Printing Retailer : IPI Strategies for Success--Image Is Everything!February 2013 By Brent Bowyer, Executive Director of Independent Photo Imagers (IPI)
Today’s independent service specialty retailers have more opportunities to provide unique and creative hard copy archiving of consumers’ memories than at any time. With wall décor ranging from gallery block to metal prints and canvas wraps, unique-shaped cards of all types and hundreds of print media options, providing consumers with high-quality custom printed photo products is very easy. But as easy as it is today to provide those types of services and deliver those types of products, independent service specialty retailers’ stores and websites must mirror that high-quality image in their store and in their websites to attract and retain customers.
Did you know that retailers like Abercrombie, GAP, Bass Pro Shops, Limited and many others undertake a complete store face-lift every three to five years in order to update their look and enhance their customer appeal? Did you know that retailers like REI, Lululemon, Desigual, All Saints and many others rotate their window and in-store displays weekly to maintain customer interest and create excitement?
Do you surf the Shutterfly website weekly? Do you click on sites like LL Bean, Old Navy or Express on a regular and periodic basis? Have you noticed the regular and periodic content changes they make?
Several years ago my wife and I owned and operated several specialty retail stores. Ranging from photofinishing stores to portrait studios and from cookie stores to restaurants and yogurt stores, we had a very varied mix. Of all those businesses, we didn’t developed one single new concept. Nor did we develop any new marketing and advertising programs.
What we did do, however, was to copy everything we could from what experts and leaders in specialty retailing were doing. We watched the specialty clothing stores, the specialty eateries and even the specialty departments in department stores like Nordstrom’s, Neiman Marcus and others. We modeled our stores after other successful retailers in our market and other markets, and we were sure we had interesting and magnetic displays to pull in consumers and keep them engaged while they were in our stores.
From a storefront appearance point of view, we didn’t undertake a complete store face-lift every three to five years, but every three years we did paint each of the stores, and we cleaned the carpet at least annually. We did, on a weekly basis, rotate images and the frames those images were in, and we did our best at presenting in varying ways the foods we served at our food establishments. We mimicked everything the nationals who were selling lifestyle brands were doing, but obviously we did so within our limited budget.
Today, every business needs an Internet foundation and framework to accommodate mobile-centric customers and those who follow social media, professional blogging, Pinterest and other web-related networking.