PCR explores new ways in which independent retailers can sell more photography products and compete alongside the big chains

How to sell more photography

With etailers such as Amazon and larger retail chains like PC World gaining more customers every day, today’s independent retailers should consider bringing more opportunities and activities in-store for their customers.

Although overall camera sales volumes declined in the first half of 2014, analyst GfK has noted that action cameras have sustained their impressive growth of over 100 per cent in both units and value during 2014. As well as this, GfK revealed that Compact System Cameras have also seen an almost double-digit increase in sales volumes. Camera accessories are also doing well, with tripods seeing 17 per cent volume growth this year so far, showing that the photography market is a potential area for PC retailers to tap into.

We speak to some experts and retailers about how independent stores can benefit from selling photography and how to do it right.

Selling camera hardware isn’t the only thing available to retailers – there is a whole host of accessories and add-ons they should be aware of and consider stocking. When your customers purchase a camera, it is always a bonus if they can get their hands on some added extras at the same time. By stocking various accessories, such as SD cards, cables, bags and cases, you will make the shopping experience a lot easier for your customer, as well as gaining more for your business.

Matthew Smith, product manager of imaging at Midwich, believes that retailers should look to add value within their store by stocking such add-ons. He says: “Retailers can provide great deals on any combination of imaging equipment with a great range of cases and bags, all types of memory, spare batteries, tripods, filters and cables.”

Being able to offer good value on products to your customers during one shopping trip also gives you the opportunity to offer different deals and bundles. For example, if a customer opts to purchase a digital camera, an SD card and case bundle would sell well alongside it. Optional extras can also boost sales.

Kamal Hitari, managing director of Hitari Trade, says: “I strongly feel that retailers ought to add more value in order to sell more photography products.

“Examples would be introducing a longer return policy, a few days trial period, gift packaging, a payments plan or anything else to create a pleasant and easy shopping experience.“

With a product such as a camera, it is important for many consumers to try before they buy. This is where a High Street retailer can offer something that online retailers cannot.

Making camera offerings interactive will give you a great opportunity to drum up conversation and show how it works, rather than just informing the customer of the device specs. If the likes of Amazon can’t be beaten on price, they might be beaten on customer service and knowledge.

Retail expert Clare Rayner explains: “It’s important for any store owner or manager to ‘put themselves in their customers’ shoes’.

“If the store focuses on an expert customer who knows exactly what they want, then merchandising by brand or product type could be most appropriate. On the other hand, if the target customer is less of an expert photographer then merchandising by ‘solutions’, for example all the items one might need to get started, is an option.”

Just like how the PC gaming community may spend time in their local game stores taking part in competitions and trying out new titles, retailers may also find that they can become a hub for keen photographers in their local area.

It is likely that not many of your customers are sure about how to use the latest digital cameras, and may be intimidated by the large SLRs and their wide variety of different lenses.

Coming up with a weekly lesson in which your customers can attend would be a good way to help them get the hang of such devices.

Retail expert Clare Rayner believes this is also important: “Perhaps make photography workshops or lessons available for a small charge, redeemable against their purchases, or offer them one-to-one advice and training in the use of their new camera, again the cost of which can be taken off should they purchase.”

The idea of running a competition could also bring keen photographers together, creating a sense of community for those interested in the subject as a hobby or from a business perspective – and boost sales as well.

The great thing about photography is that it isn’t restricted to a particular group. There are amateur photographers, those who do it as a hobby or for their business, or even individuals that just want a camera for their own everyday use.

Kamal Hitari explains his biggest customers of these kinds of products are businesses and individuals with interest in photography – and travellers.

Statistically, action cameras are also becoming more popular, an ideal device which retailers should be stocking up on, as travellers, businesses and everyday customers will be interested in purchasing one due to their durability.

Richard Gregory, GfK account director of consumer electronics, explains: “Having been round for some time now, this category can hardly be called ‘new’ but it still seems to grab consumer attention with the versatility of the situations that can be achieved.”

Professional photographers, businesses and students are also important groups to target, as they will be looking to purchase professional cameras such as SLRs and Compact System Cameras (CSC) too.

CSC’s offer customers SLR- like features within a compact camera which have grown in popularity.

Gregory adds: “This year there has almost been a double digit increase in sales volumes, and even more impressive – a 14 per cent hike in value.”

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