The rapid growth in digital technologies has given consumers more access to high-quality photography technology than ever before—and an infinite number of digital storage options at their fingertips. As a result, consumers today have significantly changed the way they are taking, storing and sharing photos.
InfoTrends, a photo industry research firm, estimates almost one trillion photos were taken in 2015 alone. Gone are the days of the wet photo lab where every photo taken and roll of film used was developed. Today, consumers print only the photos that really matter, and they want to do so in a more creative way.
This has caused the relationship between the manufacturer and the photo retailer to evolve. It is shifting from a purely transactional relationship to complex long-term partnerships. These partnerships are focused on providing today’s consumer with a wide variety of creative photo products that also deliver the best revenue opportunity for retailers.
The Key Elements of Partnerships
Effective partnerships between manufacturers and photo retailers relies on several key elements.
Service and Support
First and foremost is customer service and support. This is something we at DNP take very seriously and are well regarded for within the industry. This key component of the partnership can have a major effect on the profitability of a photo retail operation.
Complications are going to arise for any business no matter how hard it tries to avoid them. A manufacturer partner that emphasizes support is critical for increasing the uptime of operations. This means going far beyond the bare minimum to keep the retail partner satisfied. From knowledgeable phone and online support staff members to field service and providing immediate replacement parts, partnering with a manufacturer that offers a deep level of support is crucial for reducing the number of issues that do occur and the effects of those issues over the length of the partnership.
Service and support is also important for building trust in any business relationship or partnership. With the right partner, the photo retailer can rely not only on the performance of the manufacturer’s solutions but also on its people and their capacity to problem solve and minimize downtime if an issue occurs.
Secondly, the ability for a manufacturer to customize its solutions to the specific needs of photo retailers and the needs of their customers is critical to the success of customer-oriented service offerings. This is especially true for photo retailers serving consumers who want to be more creative with their prints.
From printing Facebook or Instagram pictures to photo books, panoramas, classic photo booth strips, calendars, greeting cards, photos with customized text and borders to the more standardized 4×6- and 5×7-inch prints—these are just some of the more interesting ways in which customers want to print. A solution with both customized hardware and customized software will help assure a sale is ultimately made. Customized hardware can ensure the product each consumer wants to produce is available; customized software provides a smooth, intuitive workflow for customers.
Additionally, it is important for manufacturers to provide photo retailers with custom branded solutions, especially at the point of purchase, to reinforce marketing efforts. In-store kiosk solutions branded with specialized graphics and messaging can help capture the attention of customers. It can also remind them (as well as educate them) they can easily, quickly and affordably print the photos that matter most—even if they are stored on a smartphone or other device.
A significant opportunity for added revenue exists with the right photo retail solution that is customized to the needs of today’s customer, backed by the support of a manufacturer with far-reaching service capabilities, and branded to engage and educate the customer. And it all comes down to an effective partnership between manufacturer and retailer to ensure today’s ever-evolving customer is satisfied.
Consider these elements when next choosing partnerships with manufacturers, because it is no longer just a buyer–seller transactional relationship. It is now a partnership that, if successful, can be enormously profitable for your photo retail business.
James Rowley is vice president of Sales and Marketing for DNP Imagingcomm America (DNP IAM) Corporation. He is responsible for overall development of sales activities, advertising and brand positioning for the Photo Imaging Division of DNP IAM. Rowley has more than 25 years of experience in the consumer electronics, commercial printing and photo industries.