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MY shop is going to change


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Well, after a lot of thinking, reading and head scatching, over the next couple of months, I am going to try and re-invent my shop :)

I am still going to have an area, where the mini lab sits, going to move our C41 processor, out of sight. Still going to have a retail area, for frames, albums etc.

But the exciting bit is, that we are going to knock though a section in the shop, to a large back room that I have, this is, in a way going to be part of the shop, but also sort of seperate, and it is going to be our "Photo Cafe" area. Intend to have multi kiosk, where the xKiosk project is going to be at the heart. A graphic design area, internet acess for people waiting, coffee machine etc, all done out like almost walking into someones house :)

If any one has any suggestions, on what I am about to do, it would be nice to hear :) As ever when things are started, and I have the builders in, I will be posting up pics, so that you can see the working being done, and what it all looks like at the end :)

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Good Idea Neil!

We were talking about trying to fit in a customer coffee machine today! our shop is quite tight for space so its really hard to juggle things around. But we would like more kiosks, seating, and a smell of coffee not dev waffting through the shop!

I beleive this will be a good way for shops like ours to go, stay and have a chat (spend some money) vibe. I'm sure your customers will like the new shop.

Look forward to seeing the pics.


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Well, I know ideas like this have been done out side the UK, but what I have planned, I think is a very unique idea, all hard to explain etc, but I will report on progress.

The days of being a "One Hour" lab, are now gone, and to survive, we are all going to have to take a fresh look at what are doing, and where we are going, I hope, that what I am going to do, will be inspiration to others.

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The best of luck! Your success will very much depend upon your locatioin.

I think you will end up as a cafe with kiosks rather than a lab with a coffee machine - which is, I think, what you have realised.

If the concept works then we will see it spreading, after all it's a lot easier to put kiosks in coffee shops than to convert labs. Coffee shops used to have newspapers, now they will have terminals - and once you've got a terminal then you can use it to deliver all kinds of services.

As this business changes we are all going to have to look at what our businesses really consist of.

Some of us simply like running labs and developing films. We have a limited life.

Others are retailers. If we are good retailers then we'll survive but with a different mix of products.

Others enjoy providing services and like the challenge of managing the processes involved.

Some of us will use our skills in the imaging industry, some of us will use them in a  different context.

But for those of us who like putting paper through chemicals, the end is, unfortunately,  very near.

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We recently 're-invented' our stores after 20 years in business. The result has been fantastic and reinforced my view there is still a bright future in this industry.

I'd seen the cafe/kiosk concept and knew this would work however we've a multitude of good cafes within view so decided a good comfortable environment where people could take time to select their pictures was the answer. It's worked and we get people spending ages on the kiosks - producing some excellent orders. Just last weekend one lady spent 4 hours and selected over 1000 images for printing. Every day we get multiple orders in the 300-600 quantity breaks. Of course, we still get lots of 1-10 print orders but they all add up and we charge accordingly for the smaller quantities.

We've 12 kiosks in one site and 8 in the other. If you have lots customers know you are serious. Ours are kiosks - not converted computers. Customers feel better using something that looks professional and doesn't have that 'internet cafe' look. We've spent alot of time on branding, graphics, menus and size charts along with in-store promotions which futher reinforces us as the photo specialist.

A freind has just added an espresso machine in a very busy site here in NZ. He was facing increased rental costs and wanted something else to generate some income - as well as an extra drawcard to bring customers in. Early indications are that it's working however he did find difficulty finding experienced barristas to run the coffee operation.

For anyone going to PMA. in the US. take in Phil Gresham's presentation on Multi kiosking. Phil has 15 very successful kiosks working in his Brisbane store and does some awsome merchandising/promos.

Lastly, we've not forgotten film and still do good quantities. If we look like we've exited that market others will pick up it up quite happily.

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Hi Neil,

Here is a PMA article re a minilab refit. Seems to be thinking along your lines. May be useful.

"The Camera Corner Digital Photo Cafe was designed to offer a "martini bar" atmosphere

With nine kiosks, a plasma TV, a wireless Internet connection, free beverages, and a play area, Camera Corner redefines the digital cafe

Staff members of Camera Corner/Connecting Point, Green Bay, Wis., were sent to PMA 2005 with a clear mission: Come back with an idea to make more money.

  When Rick Chernick, CEO of Camera Corner, and two staff members returned last year, they sat down and talked about what they learned.

  "We kept coming back to the fact everything is digital. Billions of images are being taken, but never printed. People are deleting them. They don't know how to store them. Printing at home has not taken the world by storm. It's not convenient, fast, or simple to print," Chernick says. "We returned from PMA knowing we had to do something for our marketplace to ensure our customers print those precious images."

  Chernick's journey to recreate Camera Corner was featured in the February issue of Photo Marketing magazine, now online. Here is an excerpt.

Something for everyone

Chernick decided his customers needed a better environment within his store in which to print digital images. Rather than having customers stand at one or two kiosks placed on a countertop, Chernick wanted to create a separate area where people could sit and relax.

  "I started off with the concept of a bar - making it look like a classy tavern, with a brown bar and wooden stools. Then I hired a designer who suggested a martini bar look instead. We made it a Digital Photo Cafe, which is a name we have trademarked," Chernick says.

  This is not your average kiosk area, though. In addition to nine photo kiosks, the area offers reading material, a plasma television, a computer with a wireless connection for customer use, and a play area for children. People are invited to enjoy a bottle of water or a cup of coffee while there.

  "It's bright, colorful, and comfortable," Chernick says. "It's a fun place to sit down and do your printing. We put the plasma television in, so if the wife wants to sit and print for 30 minutes, her husband can pick up the remote and watch CNN or the Saturday afternoon football game. Or he could pull out the USA Today from underneath the table and read."  

  Alternatively, mom can print while her 15-year-old surfs the Web and her 7-year-old colors at the kids' table.

  "We've tried to think of everything, so everyone is happy," he says.  

  In a word, the Digital Photo Cafe is gorgeous - but it didn't come cheaply.

"We spent about $100,000 on the remodel, including seven new kiosks, a new counter, moving walls, putting in refrigeration, and the television," Chernick says.

  Six of the new units are Lucidiom Automated Photo Machines (APMs). "I also have a new machine that will take your digital card and automatically drop your images into a PowerPoint presentation with music," Chernick states. "We charge $20 for that service; and people love it for weddings, funerals, and parties. You wouldn't find that at Wal-Mart."

  The Digital Photo Cafe also offers something no kiosk area should ever be without - friendly staff to help.

  "I remember the first time I went to the airport with an e-ticket. A clerk told me, 'Just stick your credit card in the machine and punch it up,'" he notes. "I looked at that machine and said, 'You do it.' I don't want to look stupid. This guy behind me might know me, for one thing. And I don't want to make a mistake and move my wife to the back of the plane. I'm in the technology business, and I still felt that way."

  That experience made Chernick very aware of the need to keep staff members on hand to help customers with the photo kiosks.  

  "We will always be available to help the customer, whether it's their first time or not. We don't want our customers ever to feel silly or confused, or not know how to back up if they make a mistake. Once they get the hang of it, they don't need us as much; but we are always there to coach them, help them, and build relationships," he explains. "Even if it's just to wipe the screen off, that's why we're here. We wipe the counter and screen after every person, so it's always clean, presentable, and comfortable. That's why the customer loves coming here."

Off to a good start

Building the Cafe required a remodel of 20 percent of the retail photo space and took 3 months to complete. When it was finished, Camera Corner invited about 200 people to a grand opening party. The store also passed out Digital Photo Cafe mugs bearing the Camera Corner logo.

  "Now, we're doing TV and radio ads, as well as newspaper and billboards. Ever since we started doing that, people have been flocking in here," Chernick says. "It's been unbelievable. It's so much fun. I love walking over there and seeing several stations being worked on."

  What Chernick did not want to see, however, was people waiting in line. Borrowing an idea from grocery stores, he decided to create an Express Lane.

  "You can't do any cropping, enhancing, or anything like that in the Express Lane. It's just for someone who wants to walk in, print and get out," he says."

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Neil we shifted 6 monthes ago it to a smaller shop and reinstalled the internet cafe area into a smaller space. we managed to install 11 in the same space that we had 8 stations and it has not affected our turn over, we had a coffee machine and  found it did not get used enough to warrent the cost and maintianence and we have on average 150 users a day, the spin of is that we have increased sales of everything else in store. the cd burning has has being going of as they come in thinking that they can do them selves and find that they can,t so we do it for them easy money but would rather have the prints.

I wonder if they get to comfortable will they spend, i thing i would rather have 200 customers a day spending average money than 50 customers admireing the veiw aand just looking at there images on the kiosks for free?

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Great points :) I will market this, in way, to make people want to print more from there digital cameras, and will aim more for the ladies, so they can "show dad" that they are capable of getting real photos done, and not having to wait for the man about the house to get the job done ;)

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Yes Niel, think you have it right there. It is so important to maintain the 'pro' attitude, but to temper it in a way that is not intimidating for the novice. To help and share our knowledge only re-affirms our position as proffessionals.  As to people just using the hardware to view their pictures and not printing, I think it only fair to impose some sort of time /tarif. I.E. for the first 1/2 hour- free, after that a sliding scale offset against prints purchased.  Just an idea, but other places, like our local library, run simillar systems with their 'open access' computers, and people seem quite happy to fall in line with that.

At the end of the day, if people are doing this, they do not have suitable systems at home, and probably need help and advice to get the correct one (we network with a local computer shop/engineer, we send business his way, he sends it our way, everyone is happy).

  I feel that the 'cyber cafe'' is the way to go, although the original idea seems to have come a little 'unglued'(probably because the orriginal target customer had little in common, appart from 'geekism'. ours have Photography- traditionaly a very strong bond). I feel that the whole thing should not be pitched to 'high tech', and care should be taken to include the traditional photographer.

Well, to this end I am trying to network my two ancient Siennas from one server into our system - they don't seem to like XP (or anything newer than '98 it seems) so I'm off to do some more 'geekism'.

best of luck.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Hi Neil,

By the look of some of these comments here, many people are begining to look away from 'The photographic only businesses'. It might be a good idea to round up all these companies looking to reinvent themselves, and all have a chat about it. Apart from the 'Coffee shop' route has anyone gone down another route say offset printing and graphic design? Has anyone successfully changed there business to start showing a profit?


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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi, Just new around here but enjoyed reading this thread, as I have been thinking along similar lines recently. I was thinking about changing my lab, which like many labs at the moment has been going nowhere for the past year. I was thinking about a shop which kind of has the ambience of a cafe or bar, with alot of attention to the design / layout of the store. It's kind of condradictory, but I also wanted a look that was at the same time tradtional but high-tech. Kind of old school meets new school.

My feeling was that maybe printing photos will become kind of a form of entertainment. Like cafes. Anyone can make coffee at home, yet still go out for coffee. You can buy a breadmaker for the home, yet bakeries aren't going out of business as a result. You can buy hairclippers at the supermarket for less than the cost of a haircut, but hairdressers aren't going out of business either.

So I think that it comes down to making printing photos a pleasant, fun experience, by improving the shopping environment, maybe business would improve.

Sorry, enough rambling, better go and start the renovations..... :)

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