RIP Jessops

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…

Jessops.com

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.

11 thoughts on “RIP Jessops

  1. Marketing is as important as having good product. McDonalds is an example: my children would beg me to take them to Macs for lunch when they were little yet after getting their little toy in their meal would refuse to eat the food-great marketing.

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  2. I get your point completely… to bad Jessops didn’t. But you know technology and new marketing techniques is absolutely SCARY to people “of a certain age” They recognize that times have changed but they don’t understand how to get with the program and are too insecure to wade into that new pool. Older people see everything they were once good at slipping away from them. My husband and I have a business and the changes we’ve had to make are staggering. I am so thankful to have a hip son and daughter who have eased us into “the new order” Now that is a business idea for some enterprising younger person – a service that would give support (in a non-intimidating and patient way) to older businesses. You say there are still plenty of famous high street names… Golden opportunity I’d say: Geriatric business life support systems!

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    1. You make good points! I would like to think that a national chain that brings in revenues in the hundred of millions of pounds might, just might, be able to adapt to the times. Alas, it turned out that there weren’t. At no stage in their demise, did they even hint that they recognised the main issues in their business model.

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    1. Dana, I actually sent them a detailed proposal offering my very competitively priced services about 18 months ago. Why not? Don’t ask, don’t get. My expectations and hopes were minimal. And met. The response was almost immediate, to tell me that they weren’t currently advertising for this position. I knew this already. Part of the point – they didn’t employ anyone in this position. I seriously doubt my emailed proposal ever got read by anyone who might be in a position to consider such a proposal. I wouldn’t be surprised if the attachments weren’t even viewed. And I could almost guarantee that the responder failed English at GCSE level. There were more spelling and grammatical errors that my Mexican students managed.

      On the subject of errors – my blog is full of them. Almost entirely typos. I never proof read my posts. I just tappity tap away, hit send and wait for the replies. My blog is a work of passion. Arguably, this would be the quality they should be looking for the most. Also the one they’d most easily miss.

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  3. You are on to something here. But waiting your talent on High Street shipwrecks would be a shame. Take that talent to Mexico City. Most Mexican businesses are in dire need of the support you can provide. Just try getting anything useful out of most online sites. The future is yours. And Mexico will be the better for it.

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    1. Mexicans are afraid of the internet when it comes to business. The continuing success of Yellow Pages tells me that. But then, they have to catch up sometime. I’d like to explore a career along these lines in DF.

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  4. You know Gary, as I was reading your blog, I thought the exact same thing as Dana and Steve. You would be a natural. That said, I’m not overly surprised at the “company response” or lack of same. I offered custom made web sites to several small bicycle companies. A chance to reach their narrow customer base for peanuts. Nope. Not interested. I think they’re gone now.
    Good work Gary!

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    1. It is certainly debatable as to whether I would have been the best person for the job. I’d like to think so, but then I am a trifle biased! I am reasonably certain they would have recruited someone with a degree. Regardless of how little they know about the job. But anyway, having anyone doing something would have been better than no one doing nothing…

      A community manager is just one part of a whole change in attitude and working that was needed. And that also didn’t happen.

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