Creative Expression Drives the Photo Kiosk Market

Creative Expression Drives the Photo Kiosk Market


With the consumer comfort-level issue now clearly out of the way, manufacturers have moved on to more important matters with regard to the kiosk market. Faster uploads, better GUIs, expanding photo gift offerings—you name it and the kiosk market is delivering.

With the focus squarely on improving the user experience, kiosk manufacturers are more concerned with addressing market trends, and with the “Look at Me” generation in full swing, this category could be entering its golden years.

“We’re moving past the ‘digital age’ and into the ‘age of expression,’” said Stephen Giordano, Jr., president of Lucidiom.

Still other manufacturers in this market have another word for this new direction, referring to it as an era of “personalization.” Whatever you choose to call it, it amounts to the same thing: an explosion of product choice for consumers, multiple production platforms for retailers, a blending of virtual and physical consumer touch points and, hanging above it all, the persistent urgency of marketing it all to consumers drifting away from traditional printed products.

So-called “expression” products—the merchandise that includes cards, photo books, collages, etc.—have fared far better during the recession than digital cameras, Giordano added. Retailers can’t afford to be wary of products such as photo books because of the higher price point, as they will be key to increasing the dollar and margin sale at retail. Or as Giordano pointed out, “These products have, on average, 63% margin.”

To profit in the new era of photo output, retailers mustn’t simply update their output equipment; they must update the retail environment. Shopping has become a more self-consciously social experience, and retailers need to pay more attention to the theatrical aspects of how they present their photo solutions. If consumers are going to be spending more on their photo products, they need to be made to feel that the entire experience is higher touch.

And while all these “lifestyle” photo products remain hot button items, let’s not dismiss the continued importance of the venerable 4×6 print. The 4×6 has certainly not become irrelevant. Indeed, for all the interest in the new crop of merchandise, the 4×6 remains a bedrock.

PMA claims that demand for 4×6 prints at retail and online actually grew from 10.5 to 10.6 billion prints just over a year ago, suggesting at least a little wind left in the sails. Indeed, retailers no longer have to necessarily worry about print competition from home printing, as they won the battle over where the prints will be made years ago. Now they just need to continue to ensure they’re going to be made—and made larger and into more creative things—in the first place.

Most print manufacturers agree that the 4×6 should continue to be the foundation for retailers to branch out into emerging categories. But they add if those retailers want growth, they need to continue to diversify their offerings.

Here’s a brief rundown of the latest in the ever-evolving photo kiosk market.

                                         Fujifilm North America
The Fujifilm/Xerox partnership continues to roll along as the fully automated GetPix combines Fuji/Xerox printing technology and Fujifilm’s proprietary Image Intelligence technology. The setup can instantly produce finished and folded fun books, fun cards and fun calendars ranging in sizes from 6×6 inches up to 5.5×8.5. This system, when combined with Fujifilm’s ASK 2500 and ASK 4000 dye-sublimation printers, becomes a complete instant kiosk solution.

The GetPix lineup includes the GetPix FS1 (combines the GetPix F7 order station and the GetPix ASK 2500 dye-sublimation printer) and GetPix FP2 (upgradeable solution that opens the doors to new streams of business). New updates are forthcoming.

                                           Eastman Kodak
Kodak’s kiosk philosophy is all about “building on its legacy of market firsts in retail print to enable retailers to deliver an exceptional photo center experience to their customers; at the same time, we continue to help our retail partners create vibrant and reliable photo retail profit centers.”

Their modular, highly flexible photo retail solutions consist of the Kodak Picture Kiosks and APEX minilabs. Some of the newer features on the kiosk side include:

• Kodak Video Snapshots. This feature lets consumers quickly and easily review and select individual frames from their video files, convert them into still images and then use those pictures to create prints, collages, greeting cards, photo books and calendars, or store them on a photo CD. This represents a huge, untapped opportunity in retail printing that can help retailers grow their profits.

• The PYNK Smart Print System. Introduced last year, it’s been a big hit at retail. Referred to as the marriage of photo with “photo holder,” the system automatically measures, crops, arranges and prints photos to fit a frame, creating a print-to-fit system that, according to Kodak, “breaks down design barriers and makes printing and framing images easier than ever.” The PYNK system is essentially an enhancement feature for the Kodak Picture Kiosk using PYNK frames and collage mattes. PYNK mattes come in up to eight different collage options and hold anywhere from two to thirteen images.

• Kodak Facial Retouch. This new feature/service uses Kodak technology to help smooth wrinkles, diminish and/or erase blemishes and improve skin tone.

Kodak is always adding lots of new features on the back end as well with the aforementioned APEX updates and additions.

                                                Lucidiom, Inc.
Lucidiom recently announced that the first two batches of new Aperion card content are now live for consumers to purchase on retailers’ Photo Finale storefronts. This adds 811 new 4×8/8×4-inch photo card designs to current offerings, the quantity of which varies from retailer to retailer.

“What I love about this is that there is nothing the retailers have to do; they are free to offer and are already there and available for consumer purchase,” explained Lucidiom president, Steve Giordano, Jr. “Plus, they are from Aperion—experts in this category, so we know they will sell well.”

The set includes designs for baby, wedding, engagement, birthday, Halloween, new address, party, school, thank you, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year’s. Nearly half of the new offerings fall under one of the winter holiday categories. 

The Lucidiom Store is Lucidiom’s central fulfillment service for traditional photo products, hundreds of custom photo gifts, plus standard and multipage creative products like photo books and calendars. 

“Retailers can choose to offer the same robust product line in the store and online, which allows for streamlined marketing plans and more sales. Plus, with Lucidiom Store, a retailer with absolutely zero imaging equipment in his store—and even someone without a storefront, for that matter—can offer the entire imaging category to his customers simply by having a Photo Finale 7.0 website,” Giordano added.

                                       Mitsubishi Digital Electronics
Mitsubishi Imaging has been a big player in this market for years, with their DPS Kiosk 7000 terminals, DPS Click 5000 print servers, and their CP-3020DAU, CP-9550DW, CP-9800DW and the CP-3800DW back-end printers that produce high-quality prints from 4×6 up to 8×12 inches at equally high speeds.

New from Mitsubishi is the Mini Photobook Maker, which lets your customers create compact books that are perfect for sharing memories of family vacations, weddings, corporate events—you name it. They also make great gifts to capture special moments. The Mini Photobook Maker is the ideal add-on kiosk service for photo retailers, bookstores, entertainment venues and convenience stores.

The kiosk unit and software are easy to operate and fun to use. The user simply selects photos from their Facebook page or digital media card, chooses a title and cover, previews, and prints: they’re done in just five minutes.

HP describes their HP Photo Center 5i Instant Print solution as a ready-to-deploy, front-of-counter, multi-input station photo center department that enables retailers to increase revenues by offering new and innovative in-store-created photo products. The unit is designed as an unattended, self-serve system that helps retailers drive profits without adding photo department labor. It allows consumers to place their orders and then come back later to claim their items using the unit’s secure order storage and release feature. “This lets consumers shop in the store rather than waiting to retrieve orders, saving them time,” HP explained.

The solution produces 4×6-, 5×7- and 8×10-inch prints and various photo gift products, such as collage prints, cards and year-on-a-page calendars. In addition, consumers can also create single-sided photo books and CD or DVD archives. Assembly of the photo books takes only seconds by a retail associate. Other features of the HP Photo Center 5i solution include:

• The ability to have up to six input stations, without having to add additional printers, making it scalable. This enables a retailer to have a small photo department with one input station or expand to a busy photo department without dedicated labor.

• The solution includes the HP Photosmart PM2000e microlab printer for 4×6 and 5×7 water-resistant, smudge-resistant, dry-to-the-touch prints. An additional 8×10-inch printer completes the most common print size offering.

The system also has a fully automated CD or DVD dispensing component that enables secure authoring and delivery in a single unit that is controlled by HP’s Order Manager software to complete the delivery process.

                                             HiTi Digital
Hi-Ti’s entry in the retail kiosk market, the P510K mini photo kiosk, “is the only solution to integrate a stand-alone printer into a touch-screen kiosk,” explained Vinson Chien, HiTi’s managing director. The P510K prints photos with various creative templates (4×6, 5×7, 6×9), index prints, photo collages and, when coupled with HiTi’s S420 printer, even passport photos. HiTi now refers to the P510K/S420 combo as their Total Retail Photofinishing Solution, offering the package at under $1,500.

“We understand the limited budgets many retailers are operating with today,” Chien explained. “This bundle speaks directly to that and it addresses the cost and time normally associated with product training. Our products are so easy to use there is almost no training required.”

Chien added that an upgrade for this “Total Retail Solution” is due out later this year in the form of their T570 kiosk, a product sure to create some buzz at the 2011 PhotoPlus Expo.

There are three different Photo.Teller kiosk models available from Whitech that suit a variety of business needs. Whether a particular retailer is looking for a stand-alone self-sufficient solution, a kiosk to network to existing printers or a kiosk with an easy fulfillment solution, they have a trio that covers all the above. All the kiosk models run the latest Photo.Teller Creative software, which enables the retailer to offer all of the available services.

The Photo.Teller Swift model, according to Whitech, is robust, reliable and easy to maintain. “It is a cost-effective, hassle-free solution for retailers looking to offer creative photo merchandise and standard digital photo printing services through kiosks with an easy off-site fulfillment option,” the company told us. The Swift kiosk, once connected to the Internet, sends all orders placed on the kiosk to a wholesaler for fulfillment. This includes orders for photos as well as creative merchandise.

The PT-1500 is a countertop solution that runs with existing printers. The kiosk will network to a range of devices, and the user can choose to send some or all orders for photo merchandise to a wholesaler for fulfillment. The PT-1550 is a stand-alone solution that has the ability to provide instant prints. It also sends orders for photo merchandise to a wholesaler for fulfillment.

                                             KIS Photo-Me Group
For KIS Photo-Me, the focus has been on the DIFM (Do It For Me) customers as their Photobook Maker kiosks do exactly that—and with amazing speed. The freestanding kiosks combine new software that allows users to produce complete photo books with just a few clicks in about six minutes.

The software automatically arranges pictures into an aesthetic layout based on archival details and photo orientation. Stain-resistant and scratch-proof paper ensure KIS photo books are printed and bound to last. Up to 30 pages and 90 photos can be included in each KIS book—yet another relatively inexpensive option for retailers in the still red-hot photo book market.

                                      DNP Photo Imaging America
In 2010 DNP announced an interesting partnership with Mediaport Entertainment Inc. to offer on-demand music download functionality in their multifunction PrintRushMP kiosks. This new service unites DNP’s reputation in the retail photo market with Mediaport’s background and experience in digital content distribution and fulfillment.

DNP’s PrintRushMP combines multiple order stations—usually two or more—with a high-speed photo print tower and the capability to create items, as they stated, that are not usually associated with a photo kiosk. PrintRushMP, with Mediaport music functionality, becomes a new self-service destination for consumers at retail. 

“PrintRushMP also features an expandable product catalog, allowing a retailer to enhance their ROI by selectively adding new and profitable digital services. With Mediaport’s competitively priced music service, consumers browse and select individual tracks or albums and create compilations,” the company added. Consumers then receive their order on a custom printed CD or directly to an attached USB device or media card, delivering media that works with virtually any media play device.