Vancouver-based photo services solution provider Storefront is launching in Australia and New Zealand with its full ‘Neo Suite’ offering: PhotoKiosk, PhotoSite, and Mobile applications.
While Storefront may be familiar to Australian and New Zealand photo retailers who visit international trade events such as Photokina, PMA and IPIC, it has had little exposure so far in the southern hemisphere. However Storefront software is deployed in over 10,000 locations, with a total of 20,000 kiosks in Europe and North and South America.
Decades of international experience has given Storefront a global perspective and its solutions are flexible in terms of language and localisation. In this respect, the company has taken the long route to Australia/New Zealand. Though the company concedes its arrival is a little overdue, it’s excited about local prospects.
‘A/NZ has always shown the way for the North America photo market,’ said Storefront’s senior VP, Larry Adams, a 40+ year photo industry veteran. ‘We see great potential in the growth of independent photo specialty stores as major “big box” retailers seem to be pulling away from the photo category.’
Storefront has feet in both camps, and and works closely with several major photo-industry multinationals, so its observations regarding ‘big box’ retailers growing indifference to the photo category are based on a deep understanding of the entire photo services segment.
As Larry remarks, ‘There are a whole lot of Fujifilm kiosks out there running Storefront software. With a decades-long service legacy, the software is time-tested and proven to be extremely stable.’
Storefront’s kiosk software development philosophy is to be hardware agnostic: ‘If you have a modern computer with a touchscreen, then we are going to run on it.’ Larry further advises retailers: ‘Don’t get tied to somebody’s OEM box, but instead consider off-the-shelf touchscreen computers.’
This versatility extends also to printers. ‘There is not a printer out there that I know of that isn’t supported. If it runs a Windows print driver, we print to it,’ he said.
Storefront’s 15-plus-year relationship with global printer manufacturers has allowed the company to integrate with printers ‘at the very lowest level.’ This means retailers can leverage whatever data (eg, paper and replenishables warnings) the printer makes available – even remotely, with optional pre-set triggers for those opting for Storefront’s state-of-the-art remote management system.
Another principle of development at Storefront is empowerment. The company builds solutions designed to put retailers in control – an objective reflected throughout the Neo Suite.
With the Neo PhotoSite, for example, Storefront has sought to ‘remove the greatest source of inefficiency and frustration for photo website operators – the dependency on their technology vendor to enact even the smallest changes.’
‘PhotoSite was designed to be re-branded and reconfigured to suit independent photo specialty requirements, all without the need of a developer.
‘Once it is set up, you just maintain it yourself. The retailer can change prices and service times, create promotions, build coupons and more. Letting operators respond to their business needs directly, in real time, is a game-changer. Storefront puts the retailer in the driver’s seat.’
These self-management benefits apply also to Neo Mobile. An integrated component within the Neo Suite, Neo Mobile is managed through the same dashboard as PhotoSite. Channel management is thus made easy for store owners and category managers alike.
In reviewing Storefront’s offering, a couple of features stood out. For one, 3D previews of photo gifting products such as caps, mugs, even canvas wraps – are available both on kiosks and web. The product can be rotated on screen with a finger gestutre so the customer sees exactly what they are going to get. This feature serves a twofold purpose, as Larry explains, ‘promoting engagement and sales, while at the same time eliminating costly returns.’
Another distinguishing feature is the kiosk’s ability to accept images wirelessly from mobile devices, without the need to install an app. ‘No one wants to put an app on their mobile device simply to pass images to a kiosk that is right in front of them,’ said Larry. By leveraging the browser, the Storefront wireless transfer feature ‘works on everything’. Storefront said its been heralded as ‘the slickest solution’ in the industry.
Storefront, which is integrated with multiple fulfilment partners worldwide, is currently integrating with an Australian fulfiller so that retailers can offer outsourced as well as in-store products.
Here’s a summary of the full Storefront Neo Suite offering:
NEO PhotoKiosk V7
– Wireless, app-free image transfer from mobile devices;
– Interactive 3D product previews (for mugs, caps, etc);
– Outputs to minilabs, dye-sub, wide-format and any Windows printer;
– Designed for hub & spoke operation;
– Easy-to-use System Manager lets you manage products, pricing and production with no outside assistance required.
– Remote fleet management
– Simple, intuitive user interface;
– Cross-platform solution supports both PC and Mac users;
– Fluent multi-zone, multi-image editing;
– Easy Photo Book editing interface;
– Supports a huge catalogue of print and gift products;
– Interactive 3D previews;
– Supports online storage, sharing, ordering;
– Allows operators to offer and sell products at multiple service levels;
– Real-time secure credit card processing;
– Allows couponing and scheduled discounted pricing;
– Sales reporting and site usage metrics;
– Easily customised and branded by the independent retailer.
– Customer pricelists
– Simple, intuitive user interface;
– Supports both Android and iPhone;
– Lets users view, manage and order photos and photo products directly from their mobile devices.
– Allows retailers to deliver store information, specials, and mobile coupons to handheld devices.
Storefront will launch in Australia and New Zealand without a local office, but with a 24/7 staffed support line.
Alex Noone, (PixelPlus, Crows Nest, NSW) has been quietly using Storefront’s kiosk software for five years – after shopping around when he learned that a Fujifilm kiosk would set him back a whopping $14K.
(By the way – Alex has an old Fuji DPS he wants to find a new home for. It’s an older ‘green tank’ model but works and still has the dongle installed, and can be used as a working kiosk or for parts. Call Alex on 02 9437 4247 or email@example.com.)
He said the software was reliable and easy to use and had no major bugs or issues. Storefront’s customer service – albeit from the other side of the world – was responsive and overall he gave Storefront the thumbs up – so much so that he had ordered an extra licence the week PhotoCounter spoke with him!