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IPI 2017 builds momentum

The annual IPI conference – IPIC 2017 – was held in Las Vegas from July 10-12 under the overarching theme, ‘#Momentum’, as an energetic follow on from last year’s ‘Re-Invention’ theme.

Bruno Polito, IPS, and IPI executive director Ron Mohney on stage on the first day of the conference.

This year’s conference picks up where 2016 left off in that there was considerable focus on lessons learned and new developments in the Print Refinery store concept. While numbers attending were similar to 2016, there were a lot of new attendees, according to Bruno Polito, marketing manager with local IPI Marketing Group international partner, Independent Photographic Supplies (IPS) 

While not every IPI member may be in a position to implement a full conversion to the Print Refinery model, many components are available individually, via the extensive IPI Marketing Support Program (MSP), available to all IPI members.

This year saw two specialist ‘Boot Camps’ as a prelude to this year’s IPIC Conference with two ‘ahead of the curve’ topic’s, being:
1. Outside Partnership Development – B2B Creative Partner Program – Learn the necessary tools to establish lifelong creative partnerships with businesses, non-profits and other entities (schools, teams, event hosts, etc.), using a system that creates sustainable value for you AND your partners – and sets you apart from the competition.
2. Leadership: Reinvent Your Team – Learn how to recruit, interview, train, coach, mentor, motivate and inspire your team into exceeding amazing individual and business-wide goals.

This year a Commercial Display Kit to support B2B offerings, and a Custom Framing Display Kit were launched to IPI members. These are also key components of Print Refinery Store & business concept.

Bruno Polito, who this year contributed as an on-stage MC/co-ordinator at IPIC, said the ‘Gather Wall’ POS – a component of the Print Refinery model, has lifted sales for stores which have adopted it, and is also available, on its own, via the MSP.

The ‘Gather Box’

The Gather Box encouraged customers to place all their digital image files, negatives and slide, tapes, etc, for assembling into an organised image collection.

‘There’s big business in scanning, video transfers and associated services,’ said Bruno. ‘and it’s a bit like alchemy – you really are making money out of nothing – in that there is no initial product cost.’

While the Australian contingent was slightly down in numbers compared to last year, Charlie Davey, the new general manager of Camera House, attended the conference for the first time, along with Print Committee Chair Louise Miller from Griffith Camera House.

‘What a great week it was,’ he told PhotoCounter. ‘Inspirational!

‘The teams talked a lot about the Print Refinery concept and the two pilot stores in the USA both showing some positive signs – within a mix of Retail and Commercial business.

Camera House general manager: ‘Inspirational!’

‘There was a lot of discussion about the creative environment and creating a de-cluttered space to sit and talk with customers.
‘I was also impressed with the presentation from Chari Pack – – which had a great focus on customer detail, social media involvement and belief in creation.

‘The other main “vibe” I got was that the retailers in this sector are doing OK and not as pressured from Amazon as others – as their core business is based around customer services and support, which Amazon does not offer on a one-to-one basis.’

We asked Charlie if he thought a concept like the Print Refinery would have any application in Australia, and whether some of the components – the Gather Wall, for instance – would be worth considering in Camera House stores?

‘I do think there is merit in the Print Refinery – and yes I think it could be adapted to the local market,’ he said.

‘IPI do a great job and are a very good resource, I would certainly like to see more involvement with the Camera House team in the future,’ he said.

Bruno Polito said that IPIC this year was focussed on making photo specialist outlets not just a place where you drop off and pick up your prints, ‘but lifting stores out of retail insecurity to become destination stores.’

By training staff on how to engage with clients – they become ‘creatives’ consulting across the table rather than shop assistants, he said.

He noted that the overwhelming evidence to date from IPI’s experience with its Print Refinery prototype stores was that B2B was a major potential money earner for photo specialists.

Instead of customers trying to get cheap 10 cents prints as per the mass merchant offers, IPI members stores can concentrate efforts on the end price for business to business work such as promotional and POS material, photo books, wall décor, etc. therefore making price much more of a secondary consideration.

‘Even if it’s only a small part of your business, with margins of 80 percent or better it can quickly become an important part,’ he said.

The 2017 convention tagline of #Momentum was an excellent continuity follow on from last year’s #Fearlessreinvention and a perfect simile for the IPI Marketing Group’s ability to play ‘ahead of the curve’ marketing game by continually refocussing and fine tuning their efforts to equip all IPI Members with the marketing wherewithal and collateral to improve their business effectiveness, and the boot camp skills and direction to chase the big margin B2B game, said Stuart Holmes, managing director of Independent Photo. (IPS).

More on IPIC 2017 in the coming weeks…


  1. Larry Steiner Larry Steiner July 26, 2017

    I always leave IPIC energized and excited to work on money-making ideas. This year, having that Aussie Fireball Bruno Polito as our emcee made for a lively event. In the general sessions we got marketing ideas and reports from retailers on what is working for them. The breakout sessions is where we tackled technical issues and discussed what what we might have to deal with in the near future.
    I hope we see more AU and NZ retailers next year.

  2. Marsha Phillips Marsha Phillips August 9, 2017

    It was another exciting IPIC! Still feeling the energy and working on “the list” our team brought home. Each of us had our favorite sessions and speakers. We are back at it, working on everything thing from small but effective changes in daily procedure to launching new products in both retail and the Creative Partner Program. Looking forward to next year and a repeat performance of this year’s very entertaining emcee!

  3. Dan Gaffney Dan Gaffney August 10, 2017

    As usual, the IPI staff put on a great show with knowledgeable speakers, teachers and industry leaders. The great energy they have rubs off on the attendees and we all leave excited and reinvigorated. We definitely have the tools to keep up the momentum now a month after the conference and through the 3rd and 4th quarters.

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