With the closing of the HP Retail Publishing Solutions business unit from April 30, Ted’s Cameras has opted for the combination of DNP dye-sub printers and DiLand software being offered by former HP RPS distributor, Photo Direct.
PhotoCounter understands that Kodak Alaris, Fujifilm Australia and Photo Direct were in the running to replace the HP systems Ted’s has been using for in-store photo services for the past few years.
Ted’s is largest among a group of retailers who have recently taken up the DiLand/DNP option, according to Photo Direct. It’s understood the Ted’s changeover will be complete in the next week, with most of Ted’s 20 stores already operating with the new hardware/software combination.
‘After an exhaustive trial period where we were generously supported by Photo Direct, Kodak and in particular Fuji, we have elected to partner with DNP and DiLand through Photo Direct,’ said Ted’s Cameras CEO Nic Peasley.
‘We are extremely confident with the range and quality of the output offering and believe that the consumer interface at the kiosk is simple and intuitive,’ he said.
Visitors to Ted’s stores will notice little change, however, as the DiLand software (formerly Oblo) is installed on the retail chain’s old HP kiosks.
‘Everything doesn’t need to be new and shiny,’ explained Photo Direct’s Steuart Meers. He said the DiLand software will run on a PC and touchscreen running any reasonably recent iteration of the Windows operating system.
This was one of the factors which tipped the balance in favour of the Photo Direct solution for Ted’s: ‘The need to have a minimal investment solution was the driving force behind the decision and in no way speaks negatively about the other offerings in the marketplace.
‘The ability to reuse some existing hardware was a key component in minimising the capex. We are now fully installed and looking forward to a strong Print and Create future within our stores.’
‘So far about 90 percent (of DiLand customers) are using using existing kiosk hardware,’ said Steuart Meers.
This bought the cost down to $1000 per installation, with another annual fee after the first year of ‘under $500’ for upgrades. There is no revenue sharing or ‘click fees’ in the equation.
If a retailer wants new kiosk hardware, Photo Direct is offering a Dell PC and 24-inch touch screen monitor (with a 3-year next business day on-site warranty) for $1500-2000.
Steuart Meers did not comment specifically on the Ted’s installations, but speaking more generally he said that for consumers, the DiLand software presented a simpler, easy to use and more intuitive interface.
‘So when you chose whether you want gloss or matte, half the screen says “Matte”, the other half says “Gloss”. The options are big, bold and very clear throughout.’
He added that this improved the speed-to-print-order time, but on the other hand, ‘if you want to do something more sophisticated, spend a lot of time on an order, all the options are there.’
Instead of a single minilab-type installation, the small DNP printers are arranged in groups – Steuart Meers said most installations are consisting of between four and six units.
There are fast(ish) models which can handle 400 4×6-inch prints per hour and go up to 6×9-inches, and a larger printer which will produce prints on 8-inch rolls up to 8×12-inches. There is also a duplex version of the larger format printer which takes sheets of paper for double-sided printing.
Typically, stores would continue to use a wide-format printer for orders above 8×12-inches.
An advantage of using multiple printers is that if one stops working, it will reduce capacity, but not put the store out of business entirely.
Service is being handled by swapping out one printer with a replacement which goes back to base for repair.
The DiLand software is not exclusive to DNP printers but will print to any vendors device including wide format printers, wetlabs and inkjet drylabs. It is also available from Photo Direct as a stand-alone product.
The principle difference for retailers taking up the DiLand/DNP printer bundle, said Steuart, is that, ‘the footprint behind the counter is tiny. Stores are winning back a lot of space. As well as that, the multiple printers can be laid out in any number of ways, which is an added benefit where space is tight.’
He said that image quality from the DNP printers was proving not to be an issue. Photo Direct has tested image quality against competing alternatives conducting including blind tests. ‘DNP fared very well in those blind tests.’
‘The advance has been in thermal print heads,’ he said. ‘Print quality is really good and widely accepted.’ He added that DNP printers were installed in Walgreens in the US and Boots The Chemist in the UK.
Although DiLand has both an Apple and an Android app available, Photo Direct is recommending retailers offer printing from smartphone using cables rather than an app or Bluetooth.
‘We’ve found a cable connection to be most reliable. But if retailers want WiFi, we can do it.’