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APS roadshow hits the road

March 11, 2011: APS kicked off its national roadshow in Melbourne this week at the Hilton on the Park ballroom, with table top demonstrations, a supporting presentation and an ‘extremely aggressive’ offer on photographic paper.

The paper offer will only be available to retailers who attend the roadshow, which may provide added incentive for those considering going along to the remaining Sydney and Brisbane roadshows: prices are under $4 per metre for Kodak Edge papers and well below $5 per metre for Kodak Royal stock.
Kodak Express and other photo retailers drifted in during the afternoon in numbers APS and attending Kodak executives, including new managing director, Adrian Fleming, may have found slightly disappointing, However the room filled steadily after 5pm, with an audience of around 50 – mostly Kodak Express members – at the presentations by APS managing director Robert Dessmann and national sales manager Shane Martin (who formerly headed up the Kodak Express program for Kodak Australia).

(Picture above right: John Clifford, Kodak Australia, Alan Logue, Hutt St Photos, and Robert Dessmann, APS)

Robert Dessmann commenced the formal presentation by outlining the improvements for Kodak Express and other APS/Kodak customers since APS assumed a direct distribution role.

These included a fall of 20 percent in the price of silver halide paper and 15 percent in the price of thermal paper, measurably faster delivery (next day in many instances) an extended product range, and regular promotional offers to the trade.

The APS sales force on the road has been increased, with six reps with regular rounds now established in all states of Australia.

Shane Martin delivered the main presentation, starting with some facts and figures on Australian retailing in general and the photo trade in particular.

In a refreshing departure from standard procedure when photo companies address their retail customers, Mr Martin didn’t pull his punches when addressing the current retail climate. Let’s face it – things could be better!

He said that while retailing had enjoyed an average growth rate of close to 4 percent in recent years, according to ABS stats, 2011 was anticipated to show no sales growth at all.

He said there was a blurring of retail categories, with ‘everyone playing in everyone else’s market’, and an environment characterised by decreasing sales and margins, low levels of consumer confidence and, for photo retailers, high levels of competition by major retailers.

Consumers were looking for a bargain, with 48 percent willing to forego what they perceived to be the best brand for a better price, and 55 percent willing to forego convenience to shop at a cheaper store.

Looking at camera purchasers, he said there was a change from the last 8 years of digital camera sales, in which males had dominated the consumer market, gradually shifting to a 50/50 mix of males and females.

He said that 50 percent of camera purchasers were buying replacement cameras in what has developed into a fairly saturated market (upwards of 70 percent of households own a digital camera).

Moving on to a comparison of the printing behaviour of camera users versus camphone users, he painted a picture in which we had all better hope that the predictions of the camphone as the replacement technology for cameras by Fujifilm boss Dave Marshall and other alleged pundits is dead wrong!
While 60 percent of camera owners create prints from their images, only 8 percent of consumers with camphones make prints.

Moreover, households who make prints with their digital cameras average 100+ prints per year, which Mr Martin noted is roughly the same as the thee-and-a-bit rolls of film households consumed in the ‘olden days’. (The difference being that that was all households, rather than 60 percent of them)

By comparison, camphone users print three-fifths of bugger-all (not Mr Martin’s phrase) and the trend is flatlining. This may improve with better access by some systems (Dakis and Kodak kiosks, for instance) to social networking sites like Facebook.

Seventy percent of printing is done at retail rather than in the home, and home printing is diminishing, but 80 percent of those who do print at home purchase branded photo paper to make their prints. Only 10 percent of households have purchased premium photo products (a figure which, according to anecdote at least, has increased over the last six months or so).

Mr Martin noted that the tradition of young people receiving a gift of a first camera has fallen away, which is a challenge for the industry to address.

‘Our challenge is to be relevant to “Kenza” [young women]’, Mr Martin observed.

He said he expected online printing to ‘grow fairly exponentially from now on’.

The specific components in the offering to Kodak Express members was then addressed:

A new range of Kodak-branded bags was in the pipeline, and APS had negotiated a licensing agreement with Kodak to produce Kodak-branded frames (pictured right). These would be sold in attractive gift boxes to enhance value.

‘We feel we can add something to the frame category, which has really been commoditised,’ said Mr Martin.

He noted in passing that film was not dead – and that more rolls of film was sold last year than in 2009.

(This is supported by the success of more entrepreneurial retailers such as Alan Logue (Hutt St Photos, Asdelaide) who has been reporting remarkable throughput in recent times.)

The Kodak camera range was being expanded by new models including the 30x zoom Z990 and a $130 waterproof model.

Forthcoming advances in Kodak kiosk software look interesting. These include the ability for consumers to work on a photo book or calendar project at a kiosk, save it and come back later.

Kodak will also supply software for consumers to work on their premium photo projects at home with software supplied by a retailer in store or via download.

Kiosks kiosk software will also incorporate staff training modules.

Another coming development for Kodak kiosk was the PYNK feature, where photos are automatically cropped, sized, arranged and printed for marrying with a complementary matte – and just begging for an accessory frame sale!

New ‘capital’ products include the Kodak PS810 and PS 410 auto-feeding print scanners (65 and 30 prints per minute respectively) with auto enhancement functions to optimise the digital image file from old prints.

Dedicated photo retailers were urged to look at this option, particularly as it was a field mass merchants were less inclined to get involved in. The scanners are relatively inexpensive and ‘people are doing some serious business with their scanners’.

APS also had a compact and easy-to-use third party ‘6-in-1’ desktop unit on display (but not being demonstrated) for producing mugs, mouse mats, T-shirts, etc in-store.

A new D400 thermal duplex printer will be available in September for producing high quality photo books, calendars and double-sided gift cards.

APS also distributes the Italian-made Unibind and Italo range of photo-book makers for the premium end of the market (pictured right). These units produce books on silver halide paper (sandwiched for double-sided pages) complemented by custom made covers from hand-tooled leather and other premium materials.

Once again, retailers were encouraged to look seriously at this end of the market, as it was not as likely to be pillaged by the mass merchants.

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