This week, Photo Counter interviewed David Santer, Kodak Alaris regional director, Marketing, Services and Growth Initiatives. (Good to see the new company keeping the old Kodak tradition of elaborate titles!).
The interview touched on a new dye transfer printer/print growth initiative, ‘Kodak Print Place’, and Kodak’s plans for the Kodak Express group in Australia and New Zealand. But mainly Kodak Print Place…
First, could you elaborate a bit on the Kodak Print Place concept?
We’ve been working through a lot of value discovery to understand exactly what consumers want to do and how they want to do it and we are continuing to…adapt our products and services to them. We were first to market with Wi-Fi printing through kiosks and we were first to market with Facebook connectivity and Instagram connectivity which was rolled out last year to many accounts…
Whilst we understand that behavioural trend, we also noticed in many markets there’s a new trend where consumers felt it was unnecessary to use a kiosk at all. So as part of this process we launched the concept around Kodak Print Place. It’s similar to when you walk into a Starbucks or a Gloria Jeans or an airport and they may have free Wi-Fi. We’ve developed a logo and a symbol that symbolises that people will be able to connect to a Wi-Fi router called Kodak PrintPlacee and be able to get prints easily from their tablet or from theirsmartphone and print them wirelessly without the need to touch a kiosk.
So really removing a hybrid model and moving to a consumer interface – my personal tablet, my personal phone – for printed output products that they desire.
This has been communicated this week to Kodak Express stores in Australia and New Zealand. Is this exclusive to Kodak Express?
No it won’t be. Kodak Express will be absolutely key to launching this program but as we’ve seen consumer behaviours change – consumers want their products in places they are. So whilst Kodak Express stores will probably operate a highly valued and serviced solution, and certainly offer additional products, the aim is to have this where consumers wish to print. And so people get back to having a tangible print or product output via the Kodak Print Place.
Is it compatible with wet labs?
Currently it is not.
That’s a bit of a problem for Kodak Express stores, isn’t it?
No it isn’t actually because many of them have thermal printers. And of the approximately 80 Kodak Express stores that are in the market in Australia and New Zealand most already have Wi-Fi printing and printing connectivity. IPS as our distributor partner for Kodak Express stores in Australia and New Zealand have done a very good job rolling out the software dongles for consumers to print via kiosks. So the option of printing via wetlabs via the kiosks is pretty much rolled out to all Kodak Express stores.
Is Kodak Print Place compatible with wide format inkjet?
Currently it isn’t because a lot of the quality of the cameras on mobile devices are limited. Although quality is increasing constantly we are finding that the majority of consumers are wanting smaller or at least no larger than 8×10-type images. When you get to 6×8 and 8×10 most people are looking at collages rather than a standard print.
With Print Place operating off your smartphone are you able to enhance photos and do all those kind of things you can do on a kiosk?
No. We have started at a very basic stage. Consumers have on average about 4.3 photo apps on their phone today, so based on our initial testing in the market, many people just wanted the ability to find a way to output easily. We do have template collages and some other basic editing functions in there, but what most people wanted was a very small light app which would download quickly and do what they wanted to do, which was print. Many people are using different apps to do the creation.
That’s not to say we won’t as well in the future. But we are very focussed on understanding consumer needs and adapting the products and solutions to deliver what consumers want and be able to deliver this where consumers want do it. This certainly will help the stores we have today and all future opportunities so that people have the ability to print more or do what they wish to do with their imaging products.
How will Print Place be promoted?
There is a B2B program which will be rolled out and we’ll be talking though IPS and other companies out into the marketplace. IPS will be the main contact for your readers. And we are looking at launching this within the next two months with the full details to go out to the stores very shortly. A lot of information to Kodak Express stores will be rolled out via emails like they received last week. You’ll be seeing a lot of those types of emails explaining these type of programs to Kodak Express stores directly.
OK that’s to the stores, but to the consumers are you looking at print, or broadcast, or online…?
There’s going to be a lot of different ways we will communicate the app. First we must get a foothold of enough locations for consumers to find the application or find the availability of the Kodak Print Place. In some markets we are using solutions through social network sites and some solutions we are using are linked to in-store promotions for local area marketing to drive people to actually download the app. Downloading and Liking the app is key for us getting additional downloads. We are looking at a variety of different programs and in Australia once we have a foothold of a group of stores in a geographical area we’ll do exactly the same – local area promotions or social network promotions to drive it. The choice of how we do it will depend on the marketplace, the location…
What’s your target for number of locations before you feel you are ready to go out and promote?
In Australia – I’d love to give you a definitive number but I can’t. If we got a mass in Melbourne, say, we would be able to do local promotions and drive it around the Melbourne area even if the rest of Australia didn’t take it up as quickly.
The advantage of social media and targeted advertising is that you don’t need to wait for all of Australia, and that’s the way we will do this – tactically in the right locations.
How many locations would you need in the Melbourne metropolitan area before you felt confident to push the button on promotion?
I would aim for somewhere between 15 and 20 locations in the Melbourne area. And from my understanding from IPS the aim is to roll a lot of these out into the marketplace quite quickly into the Kodak Express market…The sites that we will be putting this into is Kodak Express stores; is coffee shops…is locations we find in Australia where consumers want to linger and share and print their images. We will be continuing to learn about those places and opportunities.
In places like Singapore we will be placing them into locations where children have birthday parties. That’s where people talk, share. They are there for a few hours and they are able to get their printed images and leave that site. We are looking at different opportunities outside the traditional Kodak stores – which are a destination for more than just prints. We are looking for places where people can just get prints and share.
Is there any cost associated with being a Kodak Print Place?
There is some hardware and either a software or a print hub for purchase. Outside of that there’s a tablet kiosk. Excluding that there’s nothing. So the POS comes with the tablet kiosk, a print hub and a thermal printer. If they don’t have a thermal printer they will need to purchase one as part of the program.
What’s a tablet kiosk?
At the show in Melbourne last year Kodak showed a prototype of the tablet kiosk. It’s a very small kiosk in weight. It fits on a counter and can do basic products – printing, ID prints, collage prints. The product will be launched in Australia within the next two months.
So in fact the Kodak Print Place is not entirely direct from smartphone or device to printer?
No. It’s printing from your mobile phone directly to the printer…To the consumer it’s from their phone directly. The tablet kiosk is part of the solution because in many locations the tablet kiosk accepts SD cards and smart cards and USBs for people who wish to print with media. It also has the ability to do ID photos. That was the other thing that stores wanted – a simple device to accept storage media and do ID photos and some collages. So we built this tablet kiosk as part of the kit. The reason why they are sold together to a Kodak Express store is the workflow manager for W-iFi printing is managed through the tablet.
Anything more you’d like to add?
There have been some changes to Kodak Express so it could be brought in house…This information about Kodak Express and the Kodak Print Place and the next steps is something that will continue over the foreseeable future.
But our focus at Kodak Alaris is about listening to the consumer and though some very clean processes actually making sure that we are delivering products and solutions which delight consumers and help them do what they wish to do – so much so that they tell their friends about it.
By doing this and increasing share of voice we want to drive this business to a growth phase. As consumers are capturing more and more images every day we want people to be able to print their Kodak Moments in a new way.