Wednesday, April 6, 2011

In-store Only Trend Continues to Take Shape in Electronic/Photography Product World: The New Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH27 Digital Camera

As you might know, I work for an authorized electronic product and equipment dealer in NYC called H and B Digital. Aside from blogging, designing and marketing for H and B, I also manage our website and often times that includes listing new products on it. Recently, my boss asked me to list the newly released Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH27 digital camera on our website.
“But,”  he said, “make sure when customers click on the FH27, they are unable to add it to their cart and are notified that this particular item can ONLY be purchased in-store at our New York retail location…”  

If you are in the NYC area and you would like to purchase the NEW Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH27 Digital Camera in black or in red
please call us at:
 (212) 354-1341  

OR visit our NYC store located at:
 29 West 46th Street 
 (Between 5th & 6th Ave.) 
   New York City, NY 10036.   

If you need directions to our store, you can click on the H and B Digital Contact tab at the top of this blog that will redirect you to our contact page where you can type in your address and our stores address to view a map.

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH27 

Key Features 

16.1MP Resolution
8x Leica Zoom Lens 28-224mm Equiv.
3.0" TFT LCD Display 230K Dots
1280x720 HD Video @ 24fps
Optical Image Stabilizer
28 Scene Modes
High-Speed Burst Shooting @4fps
8 Color Modes
Up to ISO 1600 for Low Light Photography
Panorama Mode

For More Information on The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH27 Digital Camera, Visit My Blog Article on The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH27 >>>

(Cont.) Not to my surprise, our website host didn't support a feature where we could display a product in our listings but disable the ability for a customer to purchase it from our website. It did, however, spark my curiosity as to why some manufacturers demand that newly released products like the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH27, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF2 and even The Olympus E-PL2 Pen camera, when it was first released, specifically request us to make it available "in-store only."

The first time I dealt with this manufacturer request was with Olympus and The Pen E-PL2. Olympus requested that we only display the camera in 3 specific colors, black, silver and white, on our website as available for pre-order and that the E-PL2 in that stunning ruby red color could only be made available for purchase in-store.  In fact, I remember catching flack about the homepage banner I designed for the H and B Digital website for even advertising the E-PL2 with a picture of the camera in red.

My interest concerning the “in-store only” policies manufacturers require of authorized dealers isn’t a matter of understanding why they mandate these requirement, the reasons are somewhat obvious. If the product is made only available for purchase or even only presented through the manufacturer’s website, then that leaves the customers with only one option if they want to make their purchase online. This will generate more traffic to the manufacturer’s website and then clearly an increase in their sales. 

Although many businesses and industries have been doing this for years, it has only been very recently that big name electronic and photography product manufacturers are getting involved in the mix. As an authorized dealer, this “in-store” only policies manufacturers impose on us new items are released is a bit disheartening. 

Although we are making money when selling products from popular brands on our website, we are also helping their brand name and identity grow in the long run as a result as well. The relationship between the manufacturer and the dealer should be an equal exchange of give and take. However, restrictions like the “in-store only” rule manufacturers impose on us are not only impacting our sales but prevents our website and our brand name from growing while also restricting our customer base as well. Some might argue that “in-story only” will produce more customer flow into your stores retail location, of course that is if your business even has a retail location and is not solely an online store.  But for a small business like H and B Digital, just starting to get on its feet and build a reputation, particularly with online shoppers, this greatly negatively affects our forward mobility in the EXTREMELY competitive electronic product and accessory trade. 

Additionally, like most authorized dealers, H and B Digital keeps close communication with the manufacturer representatives we buy from and sell for, thus, in an attempt to keep good relations, we respect the price manufacturers set for newly released products on our website so as to not dent their sales right off the bat. Of course, a large reason as to why we respect their requests is also because getting along means we get better prices on items and REALLY getting along gives us the inside scoop on new products and deals via email from the manufacturer rep before other authorized dealers might. Regardless, even the law is on the manufacturer’s side as well. After the 2007 Supreme Court ruling in Leegin Creative Leather Products v. PSKS, manufacturers had even more control in the retail pricing of their products. As a result, a retailer can’t advertise that they have something under the minimum advertised price in an attempt to undercut their competitors. All in all, at the end of the 8 hour work day, when they tell us to jump - we are expected to ask “how high?” 

So small business authorized dealers are at the mercy of the big business manufacturers: a game of monopoly. The beginning of the “in-store only” trend taking shape in the electronic/photography gadget world is just another hurdle for H and B Digital to jump while launching our newborn company.

As an employee of an authorized dealer, I recognize the repercussions of this trend on business, but as a consumer, a photographer and more importantly a US citizen, I ask, “at what cost will this affect me and why is a marketing tactic that has been used among other industries and deemed effective in the past, only now presently growing in the digital gadget and accessory world?

Thoughts? Comments? Ideas? Insight? Opinions? 

Post Below, Thanks!

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