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EXCLUSIVE: Woolies joins photo fray

December 15, 2010: The 800-store Woolworths grocery chain is the latest retailer to offer photo services online, opting for the Lifepics platform to ‘go to market’.

Photo Direct is the local service-providing partner for Woolworths, with production of prints and photo gifts handled at its outer-Melbourne (Eltham) fulfilment centre. Woolworths does not offer in-store photo services.

‘Photo through the internet is getting far more widely distributed,’ noted Photo Direct’s Steuart Meers. ‘I think the more accessible the product offering is, the more the industry will grow and succeed.’

‘I think you’ll see a lot more players enter the market as “Creative Products” become more popular.’

Woolworth’s base price for prints is 19 cents plus postage, with pricing of enlargements, photo books and gifts roughly equivalent to that of similar suppliers. Orders can be collected in store or posted to the customer’s home address.

‘Something we have observed is when an on-line retailer also offers collect-at-store, it represents about 70 to 75 percent of transactions, so bricks and mortar retailers have a great opportunity but they must get on-line and start to build ongoing customer relationships through database marketing – otherwise why have expensive real estate?’ queried Meers.

The decision by Woolworths to opt for Photo Direct and Lifepics is an interesting one in that BigW, part of the Woolworths retail empire, is Fujfilm’s largest customer in Australia, while Woolworths grocery stores has opted for a competing service providor.

It introduces some added competition into the online photo services segment. Ted’s Cameras is also an affiliate of Lifepics, but handles the bulk of its orders in-store.

Camera House has thus far chosen to retain OnPix as a platform for online order/instore delivery for members with HP printing equipment, while being persuaded to establish the Fujifilm/Whitech Imagine/Photo Create structure, also used by BigW, Harvey Norman and supplier Fujifilm itself, as the platform for online ordering/offsite creation and delivery in-store or via post.

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