Opportunities in the changing retail landscape


By Chris Lydle, Chris’ Camera Center

“In an era where connected devices outnumber people, will cameras become niche products for old men if we don’t change our tune?” That’s the question posed by NPD analyst Liz Cutting at the PMA 3 session, “The Changing Retail Landscape Presents Opportunities in Imaging.”

It’s not that consumers don’t have disposable income, Cutting added: Top holiday sellers included men’s grooming products. People are still spending on themselves — it’s just that they’re happy with what they’ve got in the imaging area. In 2012, compact cameras were still a top-6 category… but down $503,500,000.

She also noted that consumers are showing more confidence in online vendors than they have in brick and mortar stores, and e-commerce is particularly gaining share with high-end cameras.

However, the stated intent to buy an interchangeable lens camera in the current year declined, for the first time.

What should retailers do? They need to demonstrate in their stores “we’ve got the flair, we’ve got the style. We need to prove to Mom that she can make more beautiful memories with our help.”

The customer must know the store is “my kind of place and people,” and is growing in popularity — it’s “where the cool people go.” And retailers must convince customers they have the brands and styles in stock that they want.

Also speaking at the session was John Swainston of Maxwell International Australia. When he entered retail in 1969 at the age of 19, audio was a specialty industry. “Discounting had just started,” he said, “and we soon got so we could spot “showroom shoppers” who were going to the discount store after shopping us.” So the “showrooming” we’re blaming for today’s problems are nothing new, just technologically more adroit.

But brick and mortar stores still have inherent advantages, Swainston says. With camera bags, for example, specialty shops have the best display mode “because we can hang it on the body of the shopper.”

Swainston stressed that success in photo retail depends on our product mix: Find the areas that are still profitable and build them up.  Growth categories exist.

Swainston also showed how almost every town’s once-prosperous main street is mostly for lease. “Unlike Field of Dreams, just because you build it, doesn’t mean they’ll come,” he said. “We’ve got to make a difference – we’ve got to be a community center, we’ve got to build trust.”