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Thai floods: ‘Accessorise’ your store!

John Swainston (managing director, Maxwell International) argues that retailers need to re-focus on what’s available to sell in anticipation of supply shortfalls in some camera models through to Christmas:

Having two top-brand suppliers, Nikon and Sony, with their key consumer factories under water is incredibly sad for our industry, for the staff involved and their families. (To read our news story, click here.)

That said, there are several opportunities open to retailers, given the reality that supply of key DSLRs will be short.

For a start, Australia has only got mirrorless interchangeables, or compact system cameras (CSCs) to an 11 percent share of interchangeable lens market.
In the UK it’s 20 percent and in Japan over 40 percent.

Olympus, Pentax and Nikon are all just about to, or have just launched, new generation products which should make up a fair bit of the DSLR shortfall. But retailers will have to brush up on their multimedia skills so they really can demonstrate convincingly to Gen-Y buyers the remarkable versatility of these units.

Having scanned the feature set of these cameras, they go way beyond just great video. Some of the Nikon slow-mo and multi-image best-shot features create entirely new user opportunities. I am sure other features in other brands do likewise. They really are a new opportunity. Just look at the success of the all-new retro Fuji camera. And at more than four times the average selling price of other fixed lens cameras!

Most CSC models are not subject to flood shortages. These cameras are also small and light and are perfect tools to expand people’s photo opportunities. Not with a quick phone shot, but with something lasting, artistic and FUN!

Most retailers, in recent times, have allowed the rapid growth of DSLR volumes to obscure the importance of re-engaging with existing customers. The strength of the retailers of photo equipment 30 years ago was their ability to persuade people to build their systems, creating opportunities for store revisits.

With targeted list management you can add a 70-300mm tele to the single lens DSLR sale of last year. You can suggest the extra-wide-angle 10-24mm to allow APS sensor users the wonder of a full view image. But you have to show them. Just like you have to show them the new water-resistant features of a new bag, or the video-ready capability of a new SLR backpack.

Reality check

The core change in behaviour right now: First tell your staff what the shortfall in your store could be – you know what share each brand has, and you know your numbers. Then sit down together and work out a plan, embracing the ideas of young staff members as well as your more experienced team members. No plan, no opportunity.

At Maxwell, we are ready to help retailers with these plans, as I am sure are all our accessory-distributing colleagues in the industry.

Windows are your traditional means of enticing walk-in traffic. But don’t forget to refresh your Homepage, add extra stories about the value of filters, explain a few key items, like ND etc.

Fifty percent of buyers today have researched on the Internet before buying. So best that it’s your website they get the best experience from! Keep changing the visuals, create excitement, suggest added options.

With only one in 12 DSLRs being sold with an accessory flashgun, 11 out of 12 buyers are only experiencing the compact camera interior lighting experience. Double that ratio and that category can make a significant dent. As can some flash modifiers, a diffuser, an umbrella or soft lighting.

If you haven’t shot some demo pictures, do it now. Print them. Wow! ‘Show and sell’ it used to be called! Announce an in-store pizza night where you or a noted local photographer teaches users how to maximise their photo experience, demonstrating different lenses with LiveView instant results. There are 101 other options, – at least!

Key messages: Don’t wait for them to come to you. Don’t be overwhelmed by this setback. Actively create your own company’s solutions and plan on keeping your sales to the level of last year this next few weeks.

If that means you have to learn how to up-sell from a $109 4X compact zoom to a $249 6x wide angle, so be it. You may even surprise yourself.

To make up the DSLR revenue shortfall, most stores just have to raise ASPs for compact cameras by 12 percent and you’ll hit last year’s numbers! That bucks the recent trends. Take advantage of this temporary change in supply and demand dynamics.

But why give people the same photo experience they can get on their Android phone or iPhone? Give them something distinctly better and they will thank you for it for a long time. So will your staff who retain their jobs, and who will be able to get back to those current buyers and show them all the postponed cameras in early January, traditionally much quieter time.

Behind ever dark cloud lies a silver lining. Yes it’s going to be tough, but I am convinced people in this industry, whatever the channel, can rise to the occasion and in the process permanently improve their business.

– John Swainston


  1. Sports Photo Sports Photo November 21, 2011

    Hey John there’s some good ideas here but ….”To make up the DSLR revenue shortfall, most stores just have to raise ASPs for compact cameras by 12 percent and you’ll hit last year’s numbers! That bucks the recent trends. Take advantage of this temporary change in supply and demand dynamics.”……What – raise prices by 12% making those internet purchases even more attractive? While you’re there purchase a slew of accessories at prices far cheaper than here in Australia. Sounds simple but strategically quite dumb – up the sales prices – down goes the sales volumes, and you most likely have to work even harder to attain the target. The more you push consumers to alternative retail channels the greater the fragmentation of the retail market here in Australia. There is no doubt that during the Christmas selling season many consumers will be comparing the the pricing in their local Ted’s with the internet sellers. I’d rather get my Canon battery grip at 40% off and self insure – in the unlikley event it breaks in the first 12 months, I’ll buy another with the money I’ve saved.

  2. John Swainston John Swainston November 25, 2011

    Sports Photo – you missed my point. I did not say raise price by 12%, I said raise ASP by 12%. That means some creative engagement with the customer to more closely match their need with the product you sell them. How many times have you gone in to buy a product from outside our industry, having probably an expectation that the purchase will cost about $400, only to be offered an opening suggestion of a product for under $300. Good selling is about matching user need with the right product. So often we ask so few questions before we open OUR mouths, that we never discover those needs. The $139 3X 12Mp special probably has more shutter lag than the $159 3X . “camera for your little boy’s pictures, is it Mrs Steffani?” “Yes we thought we needed something better than the phone. ” So in this case speed of response becomes critical and totally matching need. No dialogue, no clues, result – lower Average Sell Price. TV’s are even worse. Most people expect to pay around $1750 for a good HD panel. The industry ends up selling sub $1000 in a huge number of cases. The customer misses out because at that price, screen refresh is usually slower, contrast less, blacks are greyer etc.. We don’t ask about Sport, action, lighting, room layout, sound needs, just “was that 42″ or 50” you had in mind – bang, price. The customer is not saving money, they did not get the best solution, so they miss out on the experience they expected, even though they spent less than expected.
    Of course value must be there, and it must be competitive globally, recognising that tax is included and freight.
    As a close, from a pro perspective, today’s Australian Pro’s enjoy more industry support for events, awards and education, than in any other comparable nation. The financial viability of 90% of that support comes from some of the higher prices charged locally. Take prices down to the third world minimum wages allowed in the US, for example, and get ready to see the source of support funding evaporate. So, be careful what you wish for. All that glistens is not gold.

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