IPIC 2016 in Las Vegas (July 11-14) got off to a cracking start with the newly-introduced ‘Boot Camp’ weekend preceding the conference attracting more retailers than IPI was anticipating, including a strong representation from Australia.
The two-day Boot Camp sessions – each commanding a US$699 premium including accommodation at the luxury M Resort complex – were a B2B Creative Partner Program workshop led by Koby Marowelli, which outlined a systemic approach to developing a high-margin business providing a range of print services to businesses; and Retail Rescue and Reinvention led by Dan Mann, a retail sales management specialist and keynote speaker at last year’s IPIC.
We’ve yet to show our B2B program to a prospective business partner that hasn’t signed an agreement.’ said Koby Marowelli. ‘If this level of success is possible in Adrian, Michigan, with unemployment higher than the national average, and income much lower, then it is possible anywhere!
His business, Image Gallery, established back in 1991, maintains a retail shopfront, but currently over 80 percent of his turnover is with other businesses rather than consumers.
‘Sure it’s cost a bit in time and money to get here, but even by the end of the weekend Boot Camp, the investment has already paid for itself’,’ said Paul Maietta (Fitzgerald Photo, Perth. He added that other Australian colour labs would benefit immensely by attending the annual IPI conference – and indeed the attendees included colour labs and even wedding and portrait photographers as well as photo retailers.
The Boot Camps were so well received they will now become a part of next year’s conference, said IPI Network executive director, Ron Mohney, with another weekend boot camp-style event being organised between now and the 2017 conference. He said he couldn’t be happier with levels of attendance and the positive feedback from the retailers who invested the extra days focussing on how to build their business.
Moving on to the opening Monday of the ‘Fearless Reinvention’ conference, the highlight was the launch of a innovative retail store concept, Print Refinery (Pr), complete with sophisticated, contemporary signage and a concept layout incorporating areas for B2B as well as conventional retail customers. (We will report further later in the week.)
Monday morning also saw a range of retailers give brief outlines of recent successes, including Paul Maietta and Louise Miller (Camera House). Bruno Polito (IPS) spoke about the IPS Order Manager software which gives photo processors sophisticated control of an array of printers. The software, developed by IPS’s David Slade, specifically for – but not limited to – Epson Surelab printers, is creating interest all over the world – so much so that IPS will be demonstrating it on the Epson stand at this year’s Photokina.
Gaby Mullinax (Fullerton Photographics, Calif) introduced the conference to Signpost, a service which automates online consumer reviews of a store.
‘I’m not kidding,’ she said, ‘in the first three weeks I’ve recouped the investment. We’ve doubled reviews in Google and they are up 29 percent in Yelp. We now have a testimonials page and had 271 reviews in the first few weeks.’
‘People are more confident to take a chance buying a new product if a business has positive reviews from customers.’
The Signpost service also leads to closer communications with regular customers, such as text notifications when an order is ready, or for special offers.
The keynote speaker for the Monday morning was Steve Mangigian, who with considerable gusto tackled that small business conference chestnut, Working On the business rather than In the business, in the context of the highly successful Zingerman ‘Community of Businesses’, which grew from a single-store deli.
In the afternoon conference sessions started in earnest. IPI members (including all Camera House stores in Australia) will have access to videos of most of the sessions.
One of the most interesting Monday afternoon sessions dealt with the pros and cons of wet versus dry labs from a users point of view, rather than a product brochure. This went into the subject in great depth and considerable objectivity. Proceedings were enlivened when Ron Kubara, director, Worldwide Strategic Sales and Planning for Noritsu, spoke from the floor in defense of Noritsu dry technology – and to be fair, dry inkjet printing in general. One of his observations was that the problem of heads clogging on inkjet printers is largely a result of paper dust, which in turn is a result of poor paper finishing, and to a lesser extent using third party inks. Then a representative from Champion, one of the third party inks mentioned, spoke in defense of his company’s products. Great stuff!
It’s now Tuesday morning in Las Vegas and the conference is about to start has started for the day. Consequently, this Day One report needs to be brought to a premature end! Stay tuned. Tuesday promises to build on the first day, with a session on the Print Refinery concept and another from the aforementioned Ron Kubara, who tantalisingly noted in his address from the floor that anyone in the market for a small printer should wait for Photokina. Hmm…