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EXCLUSIVE: Canon launches online store today

August 29, 2011: Canon Australia today launches its entry into retailing with The Canon Store website going live this morning.

The accompanying news release described the initiative as ‘offering consumers the option of purchasing a range of products and accessories directly from Canon Australia.

‘The move is the latest in a series of initiatives aimed to drive local market growth and deliver consumer value locally.’

The Canon Store site offers digital cameras, camcorders, printers, binoculars, calculators, printing consumables and an extensive range of accessories. Lenses would be offered in bundles with selected cameras.

The website selling strategy for cameras, camcorders and printers is to offer selected products in bundles. The hero product – say a Canon EOS 60D DSLR – will be advertised at RRP, but with an accompanying bundle of ‘free‘ extras, primarily Canon products, adding a competitive element to the offer. The 60D Premium Kit, for instance, is offered at the regular RRP of $1999, but comes with an 8GB memory card, a Canon camera bag and a Canon Lens Workbook.

The EOS 600D Super Kit, at an RRP of $1749, comes with the addition of a 50mm f1.8 lens.

‘The bundle we add is extra value to the consumer,’ said Jason McLean, director, Canon Consumer Imaging, Canon Australia.

For the digital compact range the bundle consists of a camera bag and/or a memory card.

Product range is currently quite limited, but Canon says it won’t be holding back on offering products on the website as they are released.

‘As we bring additions to the range on to the market they will go on to the site as required,’ said Mr Mclean. He said the website will be treated as just another channel, and it wouldn’t be used specifically as a ‘clearing house’ for products late in their lifecycle.

However, end-of-life products are sold through all channels and this would continue with Canon Store as a new channel. The mix would be dependent on uptake/interest by the various channels.

Mr McLean also said that over the launch period there would be no products exclusive to the website nor a bundle ‘that retailers couldn’t replicate’ – with the exception of some co-branded camera bags Crumpler has produced for Canon.

Australia Post will handle despatch (1-5 working days/5 – 10 working days in remote regions) and there is an introductory offer of free delivery.

Canon is not adding staff to run the website, which will be handled internally by the Canon Digital Services team.

Promotion would be initially low-key: ‘We’re taking a low-key approach, integrating general awareness messages with our existing newsletters and investing in Google search terms. There’s no dedicated ad spend,’ said Mr McLean.

Canon has developed large databases of consumers over the past couple of years via its World of EOS and Pixma hobbyists websites. The World of EOS represents over 50,000 registered ‘prospects’ for the new Canon Store. However Canon says the investment in these lifestyle sites is ‘not directly linked’ to the launch of the Canon Store and is more about ‘getting people excited about imaging.’

Mr McLean said that Canon has been briefing key retailers prior to the initiative and had striven to be open and communicative, but would not be drawn on customer reaction.

‘We’re responding to a rapidly changing retail environment by introducing an online experience that complements our existing retail network and gives those consumers who wish to make their purchases online an option to do so locally,’ said Mr McLean.

‘We are evolving in step with the global marketplace, and we are focussed on attracting consumer attention to Canon and the range of options to buy locally.

‘There’s clearly a need to have a presence where all consumers choose to shop, which now includes the online environment. Ultimately we want all people to be able to choose Canon and buy with complete confidence and in a manner that suits them – whether it is from one of our authorised retail partners or directly from us from our online store.’

Canon says it is taking a ’rounded approach to online’ which has some benefits for retailers, such as the ability to provide retail offers on the corporate website ‘along with product pages, ratings and reviews, dealer locators, special promotions and brand campaigns, etc.’

Canon has no specific sales targets for the Canon store and ‘does not expect online sales to be a significant amount of its annual revenue in 2011’.

The US Canon Store, which offers a full range of products and has been trading for at least two years, is understood to account for less than 5 percent percent of sales in that market.

Earlier this month Canon also announced more than 95 Recommended Retail Price repositions and a total campaign investment of around $15 million aimed at stimulating local demand. Mr McLean noted that if local camera retailers can’t match it with global competitors ‘we all lose’.

To read Peter Michael’s (Michaels Camera Video & Digtial) response to the Canon online initiative, click here.

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