Every so often a product comes along that just makes sense, because it solves a problem you might not have known you had.Putting together a collage frame can be incredibly creative, but at the same time it can also be cumbersome and time-consuming. Between cutting pictures into perfect squares or circles, and dealing with tape dispensers, a lot of the fun is drained away by the process.
Now, Kodak has come up with a great solution that should not only help make collage frame organization easier, but it will probably help sell more frames and mats, too.
“We started walking around stores, discussing how photos can be integrated into people’s lives and how they use them today,” said Kim Hajec, Kodak’s worldwide marketing programs manager for kiosks and the patent holder on the system. “When we walked into the framing aisle, I picked up one of those multi-hole collage frames, and remembered how frustrating they could be. I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if you could just scan the frame at the kiosk, and have the kiosk do all the work for you, from cropping and zooming to positioning, and then have the images printed on one page to put into the frame?’ That’s how the PYNK system was born.”
The Kodak PYNK system integrates a specific collage frame or mat with the Kodak kiosk through bar codes. When a customer scans the frame’s bar code into the kiosk’s scanner, the kiosk’s software recognizes the frame, and the specific pattern of the mat within the frame. It then enables customers to organize their photos on the kiosk into the specific shapes, and prints out a single sheet that fits right into the back of the frame.
According to Hajec, the system is a natural for Kodak. “When we started defining the product, and putting it through consumer research, it was so apparent that this is what Kodak does—takes something that might be a little difficult for consumers to do, and uses technology in a very smart way to make it easier.
It also fits in well with the target Kodak is going after. “Kodak’s target consumer is ‘Katie,’” said Hajec. “She’s got children, she works, she’s time-starved—like hundreds of thousands of people out there—so to be able to use technology in a very friendly way to save her time is a huge win.”
Part of the beauty of the PYNK system is that it not only delivers a perfect print, but it also encourages consumers to buy more frames, making it a double win for the dealer.
“We’ve had a great response, especially in the framing industry,” said Hajec. “Framing today can use a little reenergizing, but frame manufacturers have certain restrictions. By using PYNK, it will release some of those restrictions and enable them to offer newer, more creative products. For example, there is no reason why you can’t make the mat in the shape of a flower, and make each of the petals a different image, and have that all integrated into the kiosk software. It should unleash a wave of creativity in the framing sector,” she said.
If you have a Kodak kiosk system, you’re well on your way to offering the PYNK system to your customers. It’s available in the latest software package from Kodak. If your kiosk doesn’t have a scanner, there will be a minimal investment to add one, or the customer can just key in a few digits from the bar code. And, it will open up a new world of possibilities for customers, like pulling pictures down from a Facebook account.
“We want to encourage them to create fun, cool products,” said Hajec. “The kiosks can now connect out to Facebook also, so customers can use pictures from their Facebook account. So, if they don’t have their SD card with them, they can log into their Facebook account right at the kiosk, and pull down those images and use them in their frames. This works especially well because many pictures on Facebook are lower resolution, so they’ll look fine when printed smaller in these collage frames.”
Kodak isn’t stopping there. The PYNK system is being licensed to other frame companies, to encourage them to create new collage frames within their own brands. And, a further extension will enable customers to print small, odd-size images to fit into things like bracelets.
The system is scheduled to roll out to 5,000 CVS/pharmacy stores by December 5, and according to CVS spokesperson Erin Pensa, it seems to be a perfect fit. “We are always looking for ways to add convenience and value to the products and services we provide at CVS/pharmacy. As customers look for convenient, yet personalized gift options and to refresh their home décor, the PYNK system offers an ideal solution.”
The test market also included a number of photo specialty stores in Westchester County, New York. According to George Longobardo of Photo Works in Pleasantville, New York, the system works well, but it has to be promoted. “It can be a great solution, but in the beginning it’s definitely an assisted sale, which might be good for the photo specialty store,” he said.
According to Kodak, the assisted sale could certainly lead to more creative mats and frames being sold in photo specialty stores that the mass channel wouldn’t carry because customers might need more assistance than is available in the mass channel. That could lead to a wider selection of frames being sold exclusively in the photo specialty channel.
Longobardo also said it would appeal more to younger consumers, which is consistent with Kodak’s marketing plan. “If you promote it, and help people through with the first one, then it has a good chance for repeat purchase.”
The PYNK system is just one of many new ways to promote printing, which is vital to our industry. While it may not return huge printing profits right away, it’s one more fun product that can be introduced to customers who have stayed away from printing, and hopefully give them a reason to once again become more involved with their images. kodak.com