The imaging industry today is more reflective of the Internet, where it’s all about exploration, creation and social interaction. We remain a storytelling industry, but the industry’s own story has new twists and turns that can keep even the best photofinisher on his toes.
It’s up to you to keep your eye towards the future, offering the latest technology and partnering with technology companies that can help you build a business for every type of consumer – those still clinging to film, those exploring creative photo products and even the tech savvy consumer throwing every possible gadget and photo sharing scenario your way.
Having the best fleet of kiosks in your store is no longer enough to capture all the possible sales now that consumers are hungry for online storytelling and the full range of social expression. Even having a top-notch website for at-home projects isn’t enough. Integrated in-store and online solutions already are a must. Now, consumers have come to expect everything on-the-go and at their fingertips – especially younger consumers who consider Facebook their personal photo album.
Lucidiom recently conducted a survey of consumers ages 18-25 to examine their attitudes and behaviors when it comes to digital imaging. It’s clear that printing has taken a back seat to the convenience and instant gratification of the Internet and social media websites.
Most respondents use point-and-shoot cameras, which they taught themselves how to use rather than reading the manual or seeking help from a friend. They primarily take pictures of friends and then post the pictures online (Facebook albums) or email them to friends. Every respondent uses Facebook for the reasons that “it’s easy to use” and “everyone can see them.”
This age group is still occasionally printing, but they’re more interested in disposable products than forever keepsakes. They’re using online and retail locations for printing and they’re using the prints for framed photos or collages and bulletin boards. Think college dorm room wall art. And, while they may not be up for a full-size photo book, they’re eager customers for things like flip-books and 4×6 prints.
We also found that editing tools are important to this crowd. We found that 64 percent edit their photos for color-correction, red-eye removal, etc. More advanced editing and creative applications, like those from Picnik, are popular, as well, which isn’t surprising, since again – today it’s all about creativity and expression. While the idea of photo manipulation was around way before digital times, the possibilities offered by digital photography are completely different. Composition a little off? Just use the crop tool! Not looking your best that day? A few clicks of the teeth whitening and skinny tool should do the trick. Feeling a little crafty? Add some stamps, or try some filters to make your photo unique.
Social expression is the clear path forward for the digital imaging industry and if you’re not embracing that reality yet, it’s definitely time for a status update. How? The easiest way to update your business profile is by partnering with a technology company that offers social media tools and know-how. Let the tech companies worry about the technology so you can focus on what remains the number one priority in photofinishing – attracting and retaining customers through top-notch customer service.
Later this year, Lucidiom will be introducing our Facebook Connector for the APM, which will allow retail customers to seamlessly interact with their online social media profile. After making this uploading and downloading service available to our 60,000 kiosk locations worldwide this year, we plan to roll out the same functionality onto Photo Finale early next year.
Since Facebook only stores low-resolution photos, the Facebook Connector for the APM also will upload the original, high-resolution photos to the retailer's Photo Finale website and post a link to the collection of photos on the user's Wall. The consumer, along with their extended social network of friends & family can then order high quality reprints of the photos directly from the Facebook link, with the orders being sent back to the original retail lab.
Unique, profit-building tools are a must as you charge forward in the social expression era. The 18-24 year-old bracket may be leading the way, but the desire to share memories anytime, anywhere certainly isn’t restricted to those consumers. Once the domain of college students, Facebook – now 400+ million users strong – is dominated by consumers older than 25 (60 percent). Social media has become main stream. Update your business by embracing social expression. Find more consumers and more profits on Facebook and similar social media outlets.
Steve Giordano, Jr. is President of Lucidiom, a flexible and brand-independent photo kiosk solutions.