Friday, October 01, 2004

Online Photos and Local Camera Shop

Continuing from the last post... I went to the local camera store to develop my "film" from my new Canon Digital Rebel . I had 2 choices:

  • Using the kiosk - $0.29/print
  • Having the store develop with the "big machine" - $0.39/print
I asked the owner which one is better and he told me the latter because he can control the process better. I went w/ his recommendation and I was glad that I did. The pictures turned out to be outstanding.

Now I am thinking: in the days of Target, Walmart, and online photo (Shutterfly, Ofoto, Snapfish, and the likes), how can these local camera stores compete? They do have a loyal customer base but it's going to be hard for them to grow their revenue and customer base. I guess the more important question: do they really want to grow?

Assuming the local camera stores want to grow, they should differentiate themselves from the big box retailers and educate the masses. I tried to use Target several times to develop my prints from my old film-based camera and the pictures never turned out right. I have heard the same thing from Walmart. The local camera stores now have a chance to position themselves with high quality printing. May be a tag line like this: We care about your precious memories.

Another crazy idea: how about the local camera stores partner with online photo sites? Would it consider selling out? May be... But think about it, these stores already have kiosks so that they could be price-competitive to attract new customers. What if they offer an online photo sharing service managed by say Shutterfly but with their own store brands? For every digital film developed, these stores offer to upload on their "websites" for free. Customers can either choose to print online and deliver to their house or place an order and pick up at the stores. The online photo site gets the cut when printing online and the camera stores get the cut when picking up an order. Either way, both are gaining new customers. For the online photo site, they get additional revenue when customers decide to share their pictures w/ other family members and friends. The camera stores now have the service that discount retailers don't have (yet). A happy harmony of "Click and Mortar" (or "Click and Brick")...