Photo kiosks have become a de facto component of a retailer’s photo department. Whether in a chain store or an independent photo specialty retailer, the photo kiosk can serve a wide variety of purposes from a simple print dispenser to a front end to a digital order center.
A major challenge to print unit growth, however, has been image access. Service companies advise the most-replaced bit of hardware on the typical photo kiosk is the memory-card reader, where everything from paperclips to chewing gum are jammed into the slots. Until recently, if the card reader is out of commission, so is the kiosk. (Yes, Bluetooth transfer has been available for years, but this process is slow and cumbersome, especially for transferring multiple images.) And, according to PMA marketing research, the No. 1 reason consumers don’t finish photo books is because they don’t have access to the pictures they want.
Vendors have increasingly been adding Internet connectivity to kiosks to retrieve images stored on Kodak Gallery, Snapfish, Fujifilm, etc. (depending on the vendor and their partner relationships); but this was a limited solution. For example, if you wanted to retrieve prints from Kodak Gallery, you had to go to a Kodak kiosk.
Recently, though, the rush of images to Facebook has made this social network the de facto “digital shoebox” for consumers’ images. In fact, one site estimates Facebook stores 4 percent of all images ever taken. With easy Facebook access now enabled by kiosk makers like Kodak, Lucidiom and LifePics, it’s possible one hurdle to getting products made at retail stores has been removed. There’s still work to be done, clearly, but getting access to images to print is a good first step.