We are so pleased to bestow DIR’s 2017 E-tailer of the Year Award to District Camera and Imaging. We’re excited to tell their story in the pages of this issue. We could not be more impressed with their history, their foresight into online retailing and their personal commitment to our industry.
Alan and I decided to introduce the E-tailer of the Year Award a few years ago as it became more and more apparent that the online shopping trend line was pointing skyward. It’s no surprise that e-commerce has become the retail phenomenon that it is, putting brick-and-mortar stores in the unenviable position of having to defend their turf while fighting issues like sales tax, free delivery and the convenience of shopping from the comfort of one’s own home.
Our industry has also had to adapt for many years to the reality that repeat in-store customers are harder and harder to come by. There’s no more film processing to drive monthly visits. And other than the true loyalists, their one-time camera purchases may be the last time they visit the store.
Make It Worth Their While
Getting potential customers comfortable in your store environs will make them more likely to patronize you. Things like coffee bars, kids’ play areas and free Internet workstations are some of the ways to keep them comfortable.
Also offer your customers activities they can’t get online but can easily enjoy in your stores. These can range from classes to parent/child learning experiences and photography clubs. Set up a portrait studio. Invite kids from your local school in for a free class. Run photo treks. Invite pro photographers in for an evening seminar. Offer free critiques of their images. Run a course on media management to help them organize their images. Invite local law enforcement and firefighters in for a free “thank you” day of family portraits.
I’m sure many of you are doing some or all of these already, and there are so many more opportunities. By making your store a destination, rather than just a camera store, you’ll encourage the loyalty that your online competition just can’t offer.