The Camera House AGM and conference, held this year at Crowne Plaza Coogee, saw several major marketing innovations introduced or consolidated, and a new member of the board, Jon Paterson (The New Camera House, Lismore, NSW) elected.
Perhaps the most far-reaching development was the full launch of the ProMaster range of accessories to Camera House retailers, accompanied by a comprehensive price list and order form. Some products in the range have been trialed over the past 12 months by a group of Camera House retailers.
The ProMaster range is supplied by large US photo specialist buying group PRO, where it is well-established part of the specialist retail scene.
ProMaster had a dedicated showroom at the three-day conference to demonstrate an extensive range of products, with PRO group consultant and regular Australian visitor Bill McCurry on hand to discuss ProMaster with attendees, and accessory up-selling maestro and PRO board member Tony Miresse (Art’s Cameras) over from the US to speak with Camera House members on effective bundling techniques to increase add-on sales.
Camera House general manager, Paul Shearer, said the move to the ProMaster range was aimed at delivering more profitability to Camera House and affiliate retailers.
‘Everyone [Camera House suppliers] was communicated with for a long time to get more margin at retail. Ultimately hardware is getting harder and harder because of global pricing,’ he said.
He said that with profits on hardware falling ‘we had to find more margin’.
Camera House members are not obliged to stock the ProMaster range but will be encouraged to do so to. Some products in the range will be sourced from the PRO warehouse in the USA while others will be sourced direct from the factories in which they are manufactured.
The ProMaster range offered to Camera House dealers includes tripods, camera bags, cables, memory cards batteries and battery grips, flash units and kits, filters, lens accessories, binoculars – and even a green screen kit.
Retailers Photo Counter spoke to at the conference said that the big margins available on the ProMaster range made stocking the products attractive, even though some had misgivings about the impact on existing relationships with local distributors.
Camera House will not distribute ProMaster products beyond the membership to non-affiliated specialist retailers, and they will not be seen in other channels. .
Camera House also announced the Dakis online printing solution for Camera House members during the conference, with Patrice Hugron, principal of the Canadian-based photo specialist software developer, travelling to Australia for the event. This is quite a coup for Dakis, in that it will expand its local client base from a relatively small (although influential) group of retailers to the entire Camera House membership.
By adopting the Dakis online solution, Camera House members will also have access to the Dakis Mobile Print solution. This is a ‘WebApp’ accessible directly on the retailers’ websites. Unlike other print-from-smartphone solutions, there is no software for the customer to download. With built-in automatic mobile and tablet detection, consumers are redirected to the Mobile Print WebApp, and can order and pay directly from their devices. It currently works with Android and Apple devices, with development of Windows 8 compatibility in the works.
The other US visitor to the convention was Brent Bowyer, CEO of Indepdendent Photo Imagers (IPI), with which Camera House has formed an alliance. IPI is represented in Australia by Independent Photo Supplies (IPS). Mr Bowyer was in attendance to encourage retailers to adopt the IPI Marketing Support Program. This consists of a broad range of marketing collateral designed for independent photo specialists and delivered every quarter on DVD, and covers virtually every aspect of photo retailing. IPI has now developed materials specifically for the Australian market, factoring in the major events and holidays on the local calendar.
Mr Shearer described the IPI-Camera House engagement as of mutual benefit: ‘We are helping them and they’ve helped educate us to be more member-centric, he said. ‘- More retailer-centric, because they have a lot more tools and resources to develop the programs than we did.
‘They are also sharing things from us. They don’t have a marketing program for goods and services like we do. So they will be borrowing parts of those programs to have available to their stores.
‘We have to recognise that we are a global retailer now, and we need to have as many resources helping us as we possibly can. We can’t create everything by ourselves.’
In something of a departure from normal procedure, two elections were held for Board positions, with Karina Bascombe (Twin City Camera House, Adelaide) standing against chairman, Mark Alderson, and Jon Paterson (The New Camera House, Lismore), standing against Keith Bentley (Bentley’s Camera House), with Mark Alderson being re-elected as chairman and Jon Paterson welcomed as a new Board member.
We will continue our report on the camera house AGM and conference next week…