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Thread: Do we value the local camera shop?

  1. #1
    Ausphotography Site Sponsor/Advertiser OzzieTraveller's Avatar
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    Do we value the local camera shop?

    G'day all

    At the moment I am travelling thru country Qld, NSW & Vic running Digital Photo Workshops in conjunction with country town camera shops. My workshops are aimed at beginner to intermediate level, and run over a (very busy) weekend

    In my off-line discussions with shop owners/managers, a common theme comes through... their "buy-price" for cameras + accessories from the major Aussie distributors is often greater than the "sell-price" for many of the Oz-wide non-photographic chain stores - you will know their names as you probably get their junk mail too

    My Q: to you all is "how can we expect the "local shop" to survive?

    Where will the expertise reside if they die? How can the Oz importers/distributors shut out these small businesses by their pricing? and I guess ... do you/we all want to end up purchasing our photo gear like we get bread & milk at the local supermarket where no-one cares and certainly, nobody knows that there even is a difference?

    Regards, Phil
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    Phil,
    It appears that Australia will go the way of the States in that only the strongest local shops with fiercely loyal customers will survive and the rest will be lost. As far as information flow to newbies, that will have to come from other photographers and from forums such as this one.

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    I see the extreme difficulties for local shops, but for many of us we just cannot afford the extra $$. I do think it would be good if the camera companies came to the party and gave discounts to camera shops (not big stores like HN etc) that physically offer cameras and expert knowledge, so they could be competitive with online sellers, but I don't think it will ever happen.
    Odille

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    Member Oxley's Avatar
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    I believe most local independent regional retailers survive only on their service and charm. As someone who lives in the rear end of the universe (Taree) you have left out one other competitor, the online reseller.
    For big purchases like bodies and lenses, I will go to the local bloke (who is a very smart cookie and active in the local club) and spend the extra, as its easier to return when there is a problem and the big retailers and online reseller won’t let me run around the shop comparing lenses for 3 hours, and I get the benefit of his experience.
    But for other purchases such as lighting etc its online all the way baby.
    Why?
    The same reason why our company won’t deal with the local computer retailers, if I have done my research and I know what I want, its not price that is the deciding factor, as some online resellers are more expensive, its availability.
    If I order something, either photo or computer related from a local retail outlet in Taree, it can take up to 6 weeks to arrive.
    Worst case with online resellers, a week, on average its here the following day or day after.
    But I steer clear of big retailers as they sell on price, if I say I have a budget of $1500, they will hand me something that’s $1600, not what matches my requirements and the staff have very little knowledge on what they sell, they only know how to sell it if you get my drift.

    It’s the same with car parts, if I know what I want, I’ll go to SuperCheap, because the teenage girl behind the counter was scanning my groceries last week, and wouldn’t know an oil filter from an air filter.
    But if I need advice, I go to the old bloke down the end of town, the same bloke my father has been going to for years.
    But as to why people buy from big retailers? Why not buy your camera from the same business that sold you a TV,DVD player, fridge, lounge suite etc.

    On a side note, have a think about parking, most small retailers rely on street parking, look and big retailers like HN and SuperCheap that have off street parking (well ours do) most days to find a parking spot to get to the independent store is a nightmare, most days at the big retailers I can park right at the door.

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    Staff training

    Perhaps if the camera manufacturers got their **** together and tied their discounts to the shops based on the percentage of staff that were trained in their product, rather than volume, then the little guys could compete and the big guys could actually provide some service, rather than destroying an industry. Groups like AP should be pushing for this, sales and tech certification rather than volume controlling discount. so a little guy with small but well trained staff gets a better discount than a high volume guy with untrained staff. Then staff also become more valuable to a business, and more an asset than teenage cannon fodder for Sunday sales. Lots of reasons why this should work better than just accepting that we should put up with less service, accountability and quality of experience. A bad experience and a wrong spend can mean a great future photographer never gets a start because a sales person motivated by a sales target and no understanding sells them something that does not perform in a way that is enjoyable or useful, and they go off and become a stamp collector. Remember, inexperienced buyers and newbies trust these guys, even HN as experts, and the manufacturers should be mindful that this reflects on them in the long run.

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    To be honest I think it is the rise of sites like this as well as the rise of online stores that is going to contribute to the death of these stores.

    We, as consumers, can come here ask about various sites, find out about what we want, meet other members and have a go with their kits, and find out about special deals...so I have no need to visit the local store.

    So it is not just about price, I will pay a bit more for assistance but when I can get that here, I again won't visit a store. I can also get the views of people like me, and a variety of them, with no adjenda to sell anything to me.

    I hate the idea of losing these stores, but unless they can compete on all levels they are going to loose out. There are no two ways about it.

    Just my 2 cents....

    Roo
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    Unfortunately, we are the informed are a small preportion of sales....in the global marketplace cost is the primary driver and this will not change.

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    i buy from shops items that i needed sooner rather then waiting for postage. sometimes u cant afford to pay the extra $$$ from the camera store though although they need to make $$$ but seriously
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  9. #9
    It's all about the Light!
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    I use Photographic Wholesalers here in SA (part of the Diamonds group, also CameraStore.com.au their online service)
    I know the staff by name, and in one case went to school with one of them.

    They always do a sharp deal for cash.
    I only shop grey/overseas when the price difference is more than about 15%.
    When I got my K-7 I was within $20 of the B&H landed price (eg. +shipping, +GST, + CC conversion rate)

    So by first choice I shop local
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    Ausphotography Regular
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    Saying that there will always be a place for the "professional" TOG shop but I doubt these will be far outside the major cities. There will always be people needing it now or need to rent. But with a 3 day turn around from pretty much anywhere in the world...most people would be happy to wait!

    Roo

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    Sadly last time I frequented a camera shop was before DSLR's were the norm, god I miss that shop, shelves of film processing gear, enlargers, tanks, tongs, checmicals, theyd let me nick off around the shopping centre with some new lens they got in to play with, man that was a great store.
    Since digi, I bought my dslr from a online place in QLD 12mths ago, a fair bit of gear thru fleabay, retailers online store in Melb. Last time I stepped inside a local store, I was standing there for about 20mins whilst this teenager was umming adn ahhing about whether to get a blue $80 camera or a pink one. I was standing there with 600 in my pocket to buy a flash, ended up walking out and got it next day delivery from QLD again.
    Big retailers dont really seem to worry about core training, they care mainly(well most do) about volume of sales and if staff member Freddy made his target this month. I went to goodguys or clive something once to buy a HD Camcorder, actually found a very knowledgable lad and when I had the money couple weeks later found him working in Big W, why? cos he spent too much time with customers teaching them why they didnt need to spend 2K on something they only needed 1K to do...
    Money talks better then knowledgeable sales staff sadly, but not in all cases.

    Time for a snack in the microwave,

    Grem'

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    Two things come to mind. Bricks and mortar retailers are dead or dying simply because they're in one place in a global community. They won't revive in their present form. If you recall banks opposed online banking for decades and finally discovered by using it they could deliver less service for greater profits. Nasty as that may be it's a fact of life. Bricks and mortar retailers have to adopt this attitude, not oppose it. Unfortunately, most of their potential customers don't want their service, that's why they buy online. Want proof? All the major retailers have an online service and only encourage people to their shop to cross sell product. i.e. Why sell just a camera when you can sell a case, a CF card, a couple of lenses. Even this will be entirely online shortly.
    Secondly, from a merchants perspective why pay rental for shop premises (a business's largest cost apart from staff) when you can work from home or a single base (chain retailers have stores everywhere and they cost money), why have sales staff when as a retailer you can direct people to this site for unlimited information.
    Asians have been showing us for years how to trade with low costs online. We in this country (so vast and lowly populated) can do the same thing and perhaps with more local integrity, safety and service.
    Manufacturers will only pay attention to those who sell most despite the product so you can forget any sympathy from that source and remember that most manufacturers are off shore and usually based in the countries where online selling is almost mandatory.
    Bottom line? Aussie retailers will need to go online to survive and prosper and they will need to network with forums and the service side of the industry to provide that cutting edge.
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  13. #13
    Ausphotography Regular JimD's Avatar
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    In business you have to always adapt....continuosly. The business's who don't...go under.

    Retailing is changing very quickly. No longer can business's work on a 4-5 year plan. They need a 12 month plan.

    Small suburban and country camera shops are closing up fast. They haven't kept pace with the times and consumers are educated like never before.
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    They could drop their price for a start. The upmarket % is insane.
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    Ausphotography Regular JimD's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shane.R View Post
    They could drop their price for a start. The upmarket % is insane.
    Yes I agree, but there argument is that they can't beat the online stores.

    But to me thats pretty hollow. In the '70's there was mail order, the internet and online is just another form of mail order.

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    Shane, there's an element of truth in that but the "upmarket %" as you call it is what pays for the bricks and mortar and wages and unless you increase volume there's nought you can do.
    Even with big margins if you look at the books of small retailers the profit margin is slim. The only way to make it work is by cutting costs, bricks and mortar, staff and direct service. The only answer is online and we're almost there, like it or not.

    Jim, mail order was quite different in that it was done from a catalogue which had to be mailed and was often out of date and cost a fortune. But back in that century we had the patience to wait more than 24 hours for our purchase. Consumerism demands instant gratification and that's why we get all our presents before Christmas these days.

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    Ausphotography Regular JimD's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Redgum View Post
    Jim, mail order was quite different in that it was done from a catalogue which had to be mailed and was often out of date and cost a fortune. But back in that century we had the patience to wait more than 24 hours for our purchase. Consumerism demands instant gratification and that's why we get all our presents before Christmas these days.
    Yes, you're quite right there and point taken.

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    cant wait till Woolworths start to sell cameras too...

    sadly we the consumer are to blame as we chase the inevitable $50 cheaper on line bargain...

    I have a contact in SA that i bought most of my stuff from over the years... and when i go in there i still get a good reception and a warm welcome.. and i live in another state...

    loyalty sadly has gone out the window...

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    Look at the UK as an example, it has a well developed internet marketplace and the high street is dying.

    The GFC has taken its toll and large companies that were just surviving on the high street have gone! Camera retailers included...but this isn't just a Camera thing this is affecting the retail world. TBH I am surprised that it has taken Australia so long to catch up....

    As long as we want cheaper prices and a Need It Now society that is what is going to happen....Technology isn't helping itself either....with the latest and greatest announced every 2 minutes people get used to getting it immediately...great for the manufacturers, rubbish for the bricks and morter retailers.

    Roo

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    Quote Originally Posted by Shane.R View Post
    They could drop their price for a start. The upmarket % is insane.

    they cant, it is the fault of the distributors like Canon and Nikon Australia not the retailers, you will find that camera stores make peanut profits from a camera. A Nikon D90 might be bought at cost price for $1040 from Nikon distributor, and sold for $1090 body only, then someone comes in wanting it to match grey import prices of under $1000, they just cant do it............and its not their fault.

    most of their profits come from accessories such as camera bags and other stuff, now theres a huge mark up

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