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Aussie Visiting London


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we have just done some mystery shopping in london to see what the competition is up to. we chose central as main target and visited jessops new oxford st, jacobs new ox street, boots oxford st, snappy snaps waldour st, colorama/altered images venture in wardour st, john lewis ox street, selfridges oxford st, boots cannon st and jacobs cannon street.

all in all they were disappointing for one reason or another.

the one that had best grasped the consumer's enthusiasm for digital prints and photo gifts was jessops new ox st. they had 12 counter-mounted kiosks taking up a huge area of the store. we were hoping to be blown away by their efficiency, seamless service etc. however after using the kiosks and ordering your prints customers then formed a long and disorderly queue and had to wait for staff intervention to print and package the photos. and with only 2 staff members serving, you can imagine how exasperating that was. payment chip and pin terminals labelled 'coming soon'.

jacobs gave us 2 very different scenarios, both of them disappointing. the new ox st said their instant was out of order cos it had run out of paper - i asked would they be changing it soon and they said not for a day or two. instead they offered next day pritns on ntheir nearby lab at much lower price. the monument/canon st store was interesting, had an island unit with 4 kiosks allowing us to collect our own prints and then trusting us to walk to the back of the shop to pay (althougn the front of the shop would be very tempting in busy times i'm sure).

boots throughout seem to have lots of kiosks, but again rely on the profits walking to the till and declaring themselves  - not sure i have the same belief in human nature.

selfridges was the most unimpressive. for one of our country's flagship stores, visitors would think we were stuck in a time warp. you had to work hard to find the digital print service hidden amongst the very uninviting and masculine technology department - curious choice considering most purchasers of photos are women. even when found, you were totally unimpressed - the one and only kiosk was nestled among two pillars round the backside of the photo counter. one good point - to complete your order you had to go and find a staff member to tap in a password to activate the printing. so no chance of non-payment. but that said, you had to queue up to pay knowing that once activated you had to try to get to the kiosk to retrieve your prints while someone else was using it. this didn't happen, during our 50 minute visit, we were the only kiosk customers. compare this to jessops new ox st where i would say 9 of the 12 kiosks were permanently in use.

the colarama/altered images store is fab, with the wonderful karen and mark from agfa so will be state of the art but if not front end consumer slick yet.

how are you guys doing it in oz?


p.s. all the above is my own opinion, no offence intended just thought it might be interesting to share....

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Hi Lizzie

Great idea of yours to do a "secret shopper" I am sure that the shops you mentioned management would love to read about your findings. I must admit that I walked around the Bath Jessops in January for 15 minutes taking photos and no one talked to me but maybe that is normal in UK "Big Box" stores?

Jessops staff really want to be camera "salesmen" the lab side just gets in the way of playing with the toys, I am sure that management think otherwise if you look at their corporate/investor pages.

Were there any ideas you could bring back from all your visits?

Would also like to get contact details about the ex Agfa people Colorama? You can email me off list philip@fotofast.com.au Apart from them and perhaps Jessops any of the others worth looking at?

kind regards Phil

Fotofast Brisbane

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Hi Lizzie

Forgot to report on what we are doing... we are not seeing huge increases in 4x6 output but up on 05 but our increases are in 5x7 and bigger are way up. We do not promote our  4x6 prices only enlargements and these are probably only 20% of our numbers but 80% of our profit. We set minimum quantities and get atleast a minimum of 10 pounds per order. The average is much higher, we also offer a 30 minute or less service with the benefit of two printers. We are just finishing a change to Whitech Phototeller software and this will give us all the advantages of their new scap book and photo book templates. We are dedicating 4 of our 18 kiosks to our ne "Creation Centre" the others will have most of the extra features turned off so the kiosks which are closest to the counter and lab can have staff available to help. We also will charge premiums for all these services.

I wil update the list as we go.

regards Phil

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18 kiosks Phil - fantastic! how do you take payment? are they all -self-service or do you have staff on hand? How many staff to how many kiosks? are you printing on minilab and /or dye sub? and if so how do you make sure jobs stay separate (dye subs i've seen don't do backprint text). so many questions, so little time....!

very encouraging to hear 7x5s are going well .... are you running a dedicated printer with that paper size? or do you change paper rolls if so how long does it take? do 7x5s cost you about that same as 6x4s?

in terms of who to visit, we'd love to see you on the south coast (by train only 1 hour from london) - although i don't think there's much you'd learn from us.  although i suppose we do do great things with retouching and canvas and photo gifts and montages and art effects and prints on perspex and gift vouchers and training courses etc but have not yet gone large scale on the number of kiosks - wrong site for that  - but we believe in it completely. currently looking at more prominent site (although had i have been holding my breath i would be a lighter shade of pale by now!)

other than that the jessops new oxford st london was great for layout and space,

the colarama/altered images venture is at the top of wardour st/oxford st end, opposite a snappy snaps that used to be used by all the agencies nearby so good potential market. large retail unit with kiosks and studio, very stylish. the boots approach seems to reinforce the 'if you build it they will come' i guess as long as all things are equal.

but as yet we still seem to struggle with the prints in your hands vs payment method vs theft problem.

how do you do it over there?  

p.s. have lots of pics from mystery shops but lawyer has advised not to publish...!!!

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Phil's operation is inspiring and I'm sure he'll be posting some images up soon. In the meantime I thought I'd get the ball rolling and send pictures of one of our stores. This one has 12 kiosks feeding the lab. We don't have any dye-sub printers at all.

All the kiosks run to one receipt printer near the counter. Our team can see when an order has been sent through then generate an order through our POS for every job - no matter how small. This tracks the work (using receipt and order codes) plus lets gives us a good idea of average order sizes. We never have problems with work going through without being paid as we can still opt to stop the order from the server if that was necessary.

Each month we change promos and these always focus on added value products / enlargements etc - never core 6x'4" prints. Last month we offered a voucher at a local pizza chain for a minimum spend on the kiosks. This month it's two enlargements for the price of one. These are backed up with signs near the kiosks, screensavers and web promos. Changing them every month keeps things fresh.

Like Phil we've had some excellent results when we've offered special pricing on enlargements. Over this side of the world we've been picking up some great deals on paper so that's enabled us to put 5x7's out at the same price as 6x4"s. We've also done amazing deals on 12x18's which has proven popular with the Arts and Academic market. Best results happen when you ensure just 1 print is regular price with a reduction for multiples. Decide on an average sale you'd like to achieve then set the best deal at that rate.  

Our other store has 6 kiosks feeding the lab - only because of space constraints. Through summer we are considering having extra kiosks outside to ensure wait times are minimised. Even now we're seeing all the kiosks full at certain times so we are looking forward to a successful season ahead.

I hope this gives you some ideas, as Phil's did for us.

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Thanks for the feedback Lizzie. We're always tweaking our layout and graphics so it's an ongoing project.

Our stores are both in the Central City. Both are on main pedestrian throughfares and open 7 days a week. We have a good mix of City worker, Tourist, Commercial Businesses and Inner City Apartment Residents as customers. The shop pictured opens at 7am each morning through till 6 at night.

We don't count customers through the doors as some stores do. Our focus is more on monitoring average sale values and print volumes.



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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi Tony

If you would like to contact me direct at philip@fotofast.com.au I will pass these on to Will who is now in London. I will be posting images of our 18 kiosks in action when the world traveller gets back and finishes the point of sale!!

In the mean time attached is the promo going up tomorrow, our aim is for minimum orders of fifteen pounds, experience shows this is easily achievable.

regards Phil

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