It’s an exciting—and yes, challenging—time for retailers in the photo-imaging industry. We all work right at the convergence of art and technology—a “marriage of the humanities and science,” as Steve Jobs once called it, where we each have the potential to produce “that which makes our hearts sing.”
Today, with a bit of technological savvy and creative inspiration, we have the power to create magic, to deliver products and services that delight the consumer. What we do with this potential and how we navigate the hurdles will determine our place within the evolving photo-imaging industry.
Clearly, moving beyond the commodities we once delivered into this new arena—where we are limited only by our imaginations—presents a host of challenges. Marketing probably tops that list. So how do we best communicate all the wonderful things we can do? From metal prints to “Celebration of Life” collections, archiving and video transfers to acrylic prints and wedding invitations. We have much to share with our online customers and storefront neighbors, yet no industry leaders to lead the way. It’s up to us to create our solutions, design our own paths.
At Fullerton Photographics, we have one focus: to delight our customers at every turn. With no legacy model standing in our way, we’re pulling out all the stops to turn each customer transaction into an opportunity to delight. We are focused on how we look, what kinds of products we’re featuring and how every opportunity to engage with a customer—on the phone, online or in person—is an opportunity to cause a positive emotional reaction and an exceptional experience. We want people to feel something when they shop with us. We have to delight them.
We are beginning to recognize the buying and behavior habits of two distinct types of customers: (1) those who want easy prints; and (2) those who want creative products. It’s becoming obvious in the retail photo space that we have to create two separate ordering platforms to accommodate these differing needs. People who are buying creative products want more choices, more personalization and someone to help them learn to do it on their own.
Delighting the Online Customer
We plan to launch our new web platform, delivering exciting personalization possibilities, we hope, this holiday season. One of the most powerful tools of our creative platform is a feature in the product editor that enables the customer to change the background color of almost any product she chooses to create. I believe this one feature will instantly inspire delight and creativity. Our marketing efforts will revolve around the consumer having complete color control of her greeting cards, canvas, metal and more.
Incorporating mobile apps related to photography is becoming more and more relevant in the ever-changing imaging marketplace. As is having a mobile website. Currently, FP’s mobile site is for print orders only, including prints on metal and canvas. In the future, we hope to offer a mobile solution that will serve both our print and creative customers.
What Is This Thing Called Delight?
There is no delight in commodities. If you have any bit of legacy thinking, if your business model still only revolves around producing or selling a commodity, it’s very difficult to achieve the goal of delighting customers.
We understand that what we do can be magic. Delight arrives in the emotional response you can create with every detail, every thing you do to promote and present those amazing products.
While we may each define delight differently, things that produce delight share some characteristics. They are often very beautiful, come as a surprise, go above and beyond, and produce an emotional response that makes you feel elated and charmed, far surpassing customer satisfaction.
When people walk into Fullerton Photographics for the first time, they often stand in the entranceway smiling, not even knowing what they’re smiling about. It has to do with the right signage, the right look, cleanliness, the right music and the perfect fragrance. The environment is so welcoming it leaves no question that we want their business. And when they make a purchase expecting X, we give them X-plus plus plus.
When our new website launches, I want to find out what delights the customer about her online experience. My goal is to have such beautiful products to show them that they won’t want to change a thing. But if they do want to modify something, I want them to have an incredible experience doing so.
Some days, we all want to throw our hands up in the air. We’ve endured a pounding for a long stretch and have had to make dramatic changes, most of which have been slow to yield financial rewards. If we take a moment to focus on how we can delight our customers in areas where we excel and that will always be important in our communities, we can maintain our businesses until, hopefully, something remarkable comes along.