Hello Fabio. As a retail manager, you deal with lots of shops and professionals in the photographic industry. Can you briefly explain how it has been for them to make the transition from analogue to digital?
For the first time the industry has faced an unparalleled technological transformation. The difficulties that photographic retailers have faced in recent years are many and varied: the technology, the market, but above all the knowledge of the customer has changed. With the help of new digital devices,
he has gone from being a mere consumer into a “consumer-author” - cutting a new kind of figure between that of the professional and an amateur.
Today, of course, those working in this business have had to find a new role. What’s the secret to continue monitoring the market as a leader in the field?
Skills. More than ever today we must invest in ourselves by increasing our professional skills and, above all, have the ability to anticipate problems and future needs. The market changes constantly, evolving day by day. For this, I suggest doing appropriate training courses to increase one’s skills.
Cross-selling, promotions and complementary packages are strategies that you often advise people in the industry. How do they react to these inputs?
For too many years, the photography market was linked to the concept of service, to meet an obvious need: print photos from a roll of film. The consumer now has the freedom to exceed the standard 36 exposures on a roll of film, increasing this to, perhaps, 50 times over a year without the need to ever go into a photographic shop to print the images. Today there are other needs and requirements. The wealth of knowledge that the consumer possesses has changed photography, therefore, I believe the approach has to be much more commercial.
Does the layout of a store also greatly affect the success of a photographic shop? Or is it more important to have a good online presence?
Steve Jobs said: "A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” A project which I’ve been collaborating on in recent years is the transformation of a store into a real showroom.
Another pillar of this strategy is the interconnection between e-commerce and in-store shopping. The customer is now influenced by the web and enticed into the store. The photographic retailer can help customers achieve their aims and then buy a product. I’d say that the photographer has to now have an omni-channel presence.
Today, now that we’re all a bit more like photographers, is it possible to take advantage of the realities of the industry?
Yes. Recently I read a post (Neil Postman -Technology):
"Everything will seem like an image to those who hold a camera." in my opinion, there is an important difference between taking a picture and creating a photograph. This is increasingly true when it comes to social photography.
Towards the turn of the 20th century, the aristocracy could afford artists to create paintings. In later years the bourgeoisie called on the photographer to document their "existence" on their wedding day. In the 1960's, the photographer documented stories and social relations of the couple in the society in which they lived. Today, the photographer must become more author-like and give substance to the image. The importance of this content and the ability to be a great storyteller will dictate the photographer’s success.
The advent of smartphones has created a new Smart revolution in the field. Is this an important opportunity? How do you see the future of your business?
Every day, smartphone users take half a dozen photos and have, on average, around 630* images in the phone’s memory. Social networking sites encourage users to take ever more pictures and, as a result, photography has become a sort of personal communication tool.
Considering this new trend, we must have the strength to persuade the customer to go beyond sharing. The new consumer-author has a new need: to recount his life in the form of images by creating something physical. We must ask users of images if they are aware of what can be done with their images: key moments of their lives can be turned into physical objects.
The future of my business looks rosy because the number of users who want to excite and get excited will continue to grow. Life, after all, is a fantastic story worth telling.
* (source: Gigaom)