Margaret Brown, technical editor with Photo Review Australia magazine and website and the most active camera and accessories reviewer in Australia by a country mile, notes that there are some real obstacles for Australian consumers looking locally for dedicated accessories.
This is particularly pertinent in the current photo retailing climate, where margins on cameras are pushed foolishly low by discounters and pressure from offshore online retailers. The skilled sale of accessories has been identified as a strength the specialist can exploit to lift overall margins and establish a point of difference from the box shifters.
But first sales staff need to be aware of the range available, or the customer has to know where to find them – LOCALLY – online.
The following observations relate to Olympus, but by no means are we singling out that that brand. It’s simply that a recent assignment involving an Olympus camera and accessories prompted Margaret to put her fingers to the keyboard on the issue.
‘Panasonic’s site is equally devoid of information on accessories; Sony is marginally better. Nikon only lists a battery in its accessories for the Nikon 1. I just checked the Canon website and it doesn’t provide a full accessories listing. Nikon’s DSLR accessory listing is the best of a pretty ordinary bunch, but buried in sub-menus,’ she responded on the overall state of play when we followed up.
Here’s what she had to say:
While working through a First Look review on the Olympus PEN E-PL5 and scanning both local and overseas press releases, I thought it might be worth your while to look into how (and whether) retailers and distributors are taking advantage of accessory sales when new cameras go on sale.
Even though their dollar value may be small, in the current retail climate every dollar counts and I feel many retailers are missing out on opportunities.
The E-PL5 takes the same screw-on accessory grips as the E-P3, which is great. But could I find them listed among the accessories on the Olympus website? Nope! Not in Australia, although they’re listed among the E-P3 accessories on the US, so it would have been relatively easy to port this information across to the local site – assuming the grips are stocked.
And, of course, it seems they are, as I was able to locate them on the DCW website, although they were hard to find because they were hidden away under:
Accessories – D-SLR > Accessories – Olympus D-SLR > Digital SLR Accessories – Olympus – Other Accessories.
Each grip is listed at $22 on the DCW site; which isn’t a lot of money but could still contribute to sales.
I couldn’t find any mention of the grips on the Ted’s or Paxton’s sites and only one was listed on the Camera Action Camera House site (hidden away in the Accessories sub-menu for the E-P3). You would need to be a proficient web searcher to find them on either this or the DCW site. So someone is asleep at the wheel both at Olympus Australia and among local retailers.
A press release I found on the US site lists a new MCG-3PR Camera Grip for the E-PL5, which is available in Dot, Houndstooth Check, and Stripe patterns, along with matching LC-37PR Lens Caps.
They look really cute and would probably sell well. But there’s no mention of them on the local Olympus website and they haven’t been listed by local stores – so far. The E-PL5 is due for release this month and it looks like a pretty neat product that’s well priced. Bundling the right accessories with the camera would be smart – but you can’t do that if you don’t know about them and can’t get hold of them.
So I reckon there are opportunities that could be capitalised upon when the PEN E-PL5 is released later this month. But unless people know about them, potential sales will be missed.
I’d be interested in hearing what your readers think…
– Margaret Brown, Photo Review Australia