Though the photo specialty channel has had a rough decade adjusting to the digital transition, those that have weathered the storm are reinventing themselves as profitable parts of the worldwide $83 billion imaging industry.
Kiosk and printing manufacturers are courting retailers hard, trying to sell one-stop solutions for creating high-margin imaging products. Fujifilm and Xerox recently announced a new partnership that will create minilabs like the Xerox Phaser 7760 ($6200, available later this Spring) which allow all sorts of retailers, not just camera shop owners, to get into the photobook and calendar business. KIS Photo-Me, a kiosk company based in France, is pushing a small stand-alone kiosk called a “Swifti” that lets tourists turn their vacation snapshots into postcards.
Online retailers like Shutterfly.com and Photoworks.com have also been quick to jump into the higher margin world of photogifting. Shutterfly, which had its third profitable year in 2006 with $123 million in revenue, is introducing new software which will allow its Mac customers to instantly upload images from iPhoto. Shutterfly spokesperson Bridgette Thomas says higher-margin products like framable 11×14 collage prints and the “keepsake box” (which Rosie O’Donnell gave Tom Cruise last Christmas) have been a big part of the company’s growth.
Trying to survive today on the razor-thin margins provided by 4×6-inch prints and/or digital cameras is, quite simply, a lost cause.