Walking around the floor at the 2013 International CES, I quickly realized that we might be once again approaching the golden age of retailing.
Surprising? Maybe. But if retailers begin to embrace the world of “smart” devices and convenience apps, they may be well positioned to grab the hearts and minds of everyday photographers who are snapping away on every device they can get their hands on.
Developers are realizing more and more that all of those images stuck in cameraphones and on SD cards are struggling to be free, and yearning to be printed. But the major obstacle to attaining this freedom is that one word that drove printing profits for decades. Convenience.
If you think it was convenient to bring a roll of film into your local photo retailer, look at what it takes now. You never have to leave your car. Companies like Liberty iVoke and LifePics allow consumers to personalize photo products right from their smartphones and have them shipped directly to their local retailer. Apps now allow users to not only upload images for printing but also encourage budding photographers to personalize those images into canvas or metal prints. Wireless and “smart” cameras fortified with Android apps can now connect directly to printing sources. And retailers can either print in-store or work with third-party fulfillment sources to obtain multiple orders.
Not all of this is new. But all of this is now. Although these applications have been around for a while, consumer adoption has been slow. But I believe it’s poised for growth because the technology is becoming more consumer friendly. So smart retailers who adapt their systems to “smart” cameras and cameraphones may begin to finally see those orders coming to their stores.