Poor Jessops. Britain’s largest camera retailer has gone to the wall. It’s not surprising. They’ve been in trouble for years. More importantly, they’ve been in trouble because their business model failed. But rather than try something different, Jessops stuck solidly to their failing business model. They borrowed more money to keep it going a bit longer. But the inevitable had to happen sooner or later. If you’re tumbling towards a cliff, it’s generally advisable to change direction, rather than try to extend the cliff.
There was a place for a camera retailer on the high street. But they need a business model online too. Things that I noticed were almost completely absent for Jessops. Photographs. I’d go into their shops, which sells just one things. Cameras. All there was, was bland decor. Few, if any, photos. Those that were there were all very blah. No inspiration. No life. Lomography is a growing market, and has been for a while. Where were the Lomo cameras and films in Jessops? I liked looking at the cameras. In their secure glass cases. I’d have loved to have been able to hold one, without waiting for an assistant to finish with someone else and unlock the cabinet for me. And hover over me. The phone market is big into cameras. Why not have mobile phone concessions in store?
Jessops online was just as bad. Worse, in fact. I don’t ever remember seeing a Jessops advert. You have to specifically go to Jessops website to find them. Why not do a deal with Flickr and give every camera buyer a three or twelve month Pro membership? Set it up, with their first Group already added – the Jessops community. Why not have a review blog, that gives simple, easy to understand product reviews. On cameras, on software, on anything photography related. Have a proper online presence to spread the word. A Community Manager – my dream job. On Twitter and Facebook. Engage with existing customers. Reach out to new ones. Organised photowalks. Find the customer…..don’t just wait to see if they happen to wander in your store. Inform your customer….help them find the camera they want. Sell to the customer…..you’re half way there if you’ve got the first two points right.
Back into the shop. Bring the online site into the shop. Have cameras displayed next to screens, where customers can see samples of their output. Where they can read the review. Make the company cool. Give the brand credibility. Make the company visible. Help the customer. Keep the customer. None of this is particularly difficult or expensive. Indeed, much of it was pretty obvious. Except to Jessops, it seems. For them, it’s now all too late. RIP Jessops. There are plenty more famous high street names who will keep you company in shop heaven soon…
Update 15/01/13: I mentioned Lomography. They have a new product out. It’c cool, trendy and interesting. It is a little niche too. But it is a growing market, and they regularly release new products. Best of all, the profit margins have got to be good, there’s a ton of products and because it is film you get plenty of repeat footfall. People coming back to buy film, get processing done, stock up on accessories. Footfall that never ventured into Jessops.