With the growing proliferation of higher megapixel digital cameras and the resulting larger file sizes, compounded with the number of digital photos and video consumers are creating each day, storage is the HOT sales opportunity for photo retailers.
According to Picture Business Digital Clique, March 26, 2008 – Consumer Storage Still a Big Issue: “Americans are still not backing up their digital photos, music, documents or other types of files. Results of the study [by CEA], Amassing Digital Fortunes: A Digital Storage Study, show that nearly one in three consumers don’t see the need to back up their files, while nearly a quarter (22%) say they aren’t backing up files because it’s too time-consuming. The study claims the average U.S. adult has 1,800 digital files, totaling 310 billion digital files nationwide. With an additional 1,060 being added per user in 2008, the total number is expected to hit just under 500 billion by the end of the year.”
Photo retailers are unaware of this large storage opportunity or if they are aware, they don’t take into account the importance of vendor selection. They often view storage drives as being all the same as in this funny Quaker State commercial…Car traveling down road driven by older, curmudgeonly man. Young man in rear seat asks driver why he uses cheap oil as the car is belching smoke. Older man replies, “Because motor oil is motor oil.” Later in the commercial, the engine dies.
The ad was very successful for Quaker State as it illustrated that motor oil isn’t as much a no-brainer lowest price commodity item as perceived and that ultimately, quality does make a difference.
The same thing can be said about storage drives. There are quite a few differences that photo retailers need to be aware of and they really have to be very careful when selecting a brand to offer to photo customers. For instance, “Brand R” advertises a “Triple Interface” drive. One would expect that that would be three separate interfaces, such as USB 2.0, Firewire 800, and Firewire 400. However, on close examination, the drive has one USB 2.0 port and two Firewire 400 ports, which is actually a dual interface.
What is scary to think though, is a less knowledgeable customer who is told by someone that they should get a “Triple Interface” drive. That customer buys the “Brand R” drive. Who do you think the customer will be smoking mad at when they realize that they don’t have what they really wanted? You, the retailer. Your reputation with your customers is at risk with this “a drive is just a drive” thinking.
Below are questions to ask a supplier when deciding which storage drive you should sell:
Top 10 Questions For Your Storage Drive Supplier:
1.How long is the warranty?
A one-year warranty is the industry norm. A two-year warranty is what you and your customers want for piece of mind. That extra year isn’t marketing fluff, it means the manufacturer built the product to last.
2. What brand drive is used and what is the warranty on that drive?
It’s generally not a good sign if the hard drive manufacturer information isn’t featured prominently or given freely, as that means the supplier is not using the highest quality drives. The drive used in the enclosure should come with an additional warranty from the manufacturer and it should range from 3-5 years.
3.What chipset is provided?
Next to the hard drive, the other crucial component is the chipset. It’s the gatekeeper to making sure the built-in interfaces work properly with the drive. Again, not a good sign if this information isn’t featured prominently, as that means they are not using the highest quality chipset. Oxford Semiconductor produces premiere chipsets, which are among the select few that should be used.
4. Is it a complete “Plug and Play” solution?
Your customers should not have to buy anything more to get the product up and running straight from the retail box. All interface connection cables and a high quality external power supply should be included. There should also be a value-added component included, like a software bundle for added drive usefulness.
5. What kinds of interfaces and how many?
To offer a wide range of flexibility, connectivity, and value appeal, there should be at least 2 different types of ports (USB 2.0 and Firewire). More advanced situations call for up to 4 different interfaces, including eSATA.
6. What OS does the external drive work with?
Will the drive work with Macintosh, Windows®, Linux, and other operating systems? External drives should be multi-platform compatible and this feature should be prominently mentioned on the packaging.
7. Will they sell directly to your customer?
Will the manufacturer sell to YOUR customer once they get the warranty registration or after a customer service interaction? NO is the only answer you should accept to this question.
8. Is Tech Support offered to you and your customers?
You should seek a supplier that offers free, U.S.-based tech support, so when you or your customer need it the most, that support is standing by ready to help.
9. How has the external drive been rated or reviewed?
Perhaps the most overlooked feature, the storage drive and the manufacturer should have a solid review history from technology press.
10. What are the ordering terms?
If all you need is one or two storage drives, you should not have to deal with any minimum order or quota requirements.
Grant Dahlke is Marketing manager for Newer Technology, Inc. (NewerTech) – www.newertech.com