At Retail, When in Doubt, Look About

At Retail, When in Doubt, Look About


Ask your average digital camera retailer exactly what customers want these days and you’re likely to see eyes roll. The fast-evolving digital imaging industry is offering many different types of goods, from video products to bound books, but all of them require significant set-up costs for retailers and no one knows which will deliver a decent ROI. “The biggest challenge these days is identifying which opportunity to pursue,” says Mike Woodland, the CEO of Dan’s Camera City in Allentown, Pa., “Where do you put all your eggs? I haven’t seen a guaranteed winner yet.”

Woodland has found his own way through market uncertainty in the last year, however, and it involves flat out spying on his competitors. “We decided to send our staff out to drugstores, supermarkets and mass merchants that had digital printing services,” says Woodland. “We sent them with a memory card full of images and had them fill out a worksheet about their experience printing at each location. They reported back that it’s just annoying to feel like your standing in the middle of a store with people buzzing around you while you’re trying to concentrate on your photographs.”

Based on the reconnaissance, Woodland and his staff set about redesigning their store floor to add a sense of relaxation and fun to “the printing experience.” They came up with a concept they call the “DigiPrint Lounge,” a low-lit separate area of the store featuring 15 digital print order stations, a kiddie table, a beverage station, and two Todd Oldham La-Z-Boy chairs to make things mod and friendly. The DigiPrint Lounge, which opened in March, has been so successful at drawing in crowds that Woodland is building another store-within-a-store area just for digitally-enhanced scrapbooking. “Now, we have a lot of people who come in and spend hours with us,” says Woodland. “One guy even fell asleep in the La-Z-Boy while his wife was ordering pictures.”