Wal*Mart reveals photo plans for future, including Snapfish and cellphones

Since I’ve been writing about the retail powerhouse Wal*Mart recently (see Wal*Mart aggressively moves into organic foods over on my parenting blog, for example) I was surprised when I caught a TWICE article about Wal*Mart and Snapfish entitled Wal-Mart Seeks More Profit in Digital Photo Biz.
The story broke some time last week, but somehow I didn’t catch it in any of the major media. Really, I’m so pleased as everything keeps coming up roses for Mark Hurd and Hewlett-Packard. Once they bagged Carla Fiorina (who I wrote critically about more than once in this weblog) the company seems to really be finding its stride in this new, dynamic marketplace and that’s great to see.

Back to the TWICE story, however. What’s interesting is to see what players are already involved with Wal*Mart in the photography area. For example, I had no idea that Fujifilm’s E-Systems division ran most of the online photo center for Wal*Mart.
In a classic example of why Wal*Mart is the proverbial 800-pound gorilla in retailing, it apparently tried to improve its own online photo capabilities, but was still only ever rated #5 or lower in industry comparisons of online photo sites.
Joe Lisuzzo, Wal*Mart’s photo center director, then seems to have taken a tip from General Electric’s Jeff Immelt, who famously stated “only be in markets where you can be the market leader”. Lisuzzo, instead of pouring millions into improving the Wal*Mart photo site, simply signed up Snapfish as a new partner.
As TWICE reports, Snapfish will provide a great customer interface on the Wal*Mart site and Fujifilm will continue to demonstrate its expertise at delivering images back to the store. Who would have thought Fuji’s sweet spot would be transport logistics?
More interesting tidbits from the article:
“Wal-Mart has offered net-to-retail printing since 2003 and, along with Ritz Camera, was Fujifilm’s first customer to introduce the model with a one-hour turnaround time. Since then, online orders that are picked up in store in an hour represent a “substantial” portion of the company’s online photo printing business, Lisuzzo said.
“Indeed, even though the one-hour service costs more, most consumers choose an in-store pickup option with a rapid turnaround time, said Gael Lundeen, photofinishing and Web services VP and GM, Fujifilm.”
Are you other online photo sites paying attention? This is incredibly valuable market data from a company that can clearly deliver prints as easily as send them to an in-store processing facility. People like fast turnaround, that’s clear, and while it’s not news, it’s interesting how many photo processors still focus on sending prints through the mail.
Oh, and Verizon and Cingular, your time is coming too, in what I found to be a bit of a bombshell:
“Wal-Mart is working on a solution to allow camera phone users to upload images from their phones to nearby locations for printing.
“We have to change the industry,” Lisuzzo said, from a mindset of burning airtime to one where pictures can be moved quickly and easily out of the camera. “It’s not a real camera unless you can easily get your pictures off the phone.”
Boy, that’s the most interesting news in this story, if you ask me.
Imagine what kind of business Wal*Mart could do if you could just walk in with your camera phone, push a few buttons and have prints delivered 30 minutes later from your images?
I’m ready for that solution today!

One comment on “Wal*Mart reveals photo plans for future, including Snapfish and cellphones

  1. No doubt someone has actually listened to their customers and followed up on their customers stated needs. If you put your customers first and business second the one will almost always surpass the other. Nice article.
    I’m not always bullish on Wal-Mart as their in store management leaves a lot to be desired and is certainly not customer focused. They rely on metric development as their management tool, almost exclusively. This creates a company insensitivity to the customer as well as blind leadership.

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