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Amazon Finds Growth In Camera Drought

SEATTLE – Perhaps as much as any other product category, digital imaging has benefitted from the convenience, bargains and informational benefits that Amazon offers consumers.

Amazon carries a full range of brands and camera models and supports them with an equally ample arsenal of accessories and replacement parts sold either directly or through a legion of marketplace partners.

As with other categories, Amazon’s Prime membership enables shoppers to realize additional value to the ecommerce giant’s everyday bargains by dropping shipping charges, not to mention the state sales-tax avoidance it has enabled to date.

In many ways, Amazon owes a debt of gratitude to mailorder retail accounts like 47th Street Photo, B&H Photo and Cambridge that came before it. In digital imaging, more than any other field, accounts like these conditioned photo enthusiasts years ago into doing their research first before taking advantage of mail-order bargains advertized in photography magazines and newspaper listings.

Using the Internet, Amazon took that proposition to the next level, by providing the information, products and automated ordering processes all in one place, without the need to deal with an impatient salesperson applying pressure to add on a crate-load of “essential” and pricey accessories on the phone.

Those skittish about manufacturer-generated sales information often turn to Amazon’s ample consumer testimonials to garner peace of mind about a product’s reliability and ability to live up to the sales hype. Amazon’s product pages also suggest accessories that other shoppers have purchased along with the product – like lenses, filters, batteries and other add-ons – to ensure a pressure-free satisfactory user experience.

“Amazon continues to be a strong channel for electronic sales, including cameras,” Chris Chute, IDC worldwide digital imaging research director, verified for TWICE. “Lightning Deals during the holiday timeframe, as well as the ability to offer model rankings by recent sales, and in-depth user and site reviews all contribute to the firm’s strong consumer mindshare. This success spans across camera segments, and has the most impact on mid- to higher-end models that are more planned purchases.”

For those who don’t mind waiting a day or two for mail, UPS or FedEx delivery, it’s become harder to justify the time and trouble to seek out an increasingly scarce brick-andmortar photo retailer in the area.

“For many years, digital camera sales have been one of the largest and fastest-growing categories within CE on,” said Ben Hartman, Amazon CE VP. “Even today, we continue to see healthy sales growth in our camera segment, as customers continue to come to to research and buy the latest camera technologies.”

Amazon’s camera business isn’t immune to the disruption caused by advances in smartphone imaging tech, so the online retailing giant has embraced the challenge by crosspromoting services that shoppers can use to keep and share the photos they’ve captured – on any device.

“Many customers want to share their images in convenient ways,” Hartman said. “Amazon offers Amazon Cloud Drive, which enables customers to store and access their photos from many different devices.”

Amazon recently launched a Cloud Drive app to go along with the web application.

“When we launched Cloud Drive for MP3 years ago, the No. 1 feedback from customers was that they also wanted a better Cloud application for photo management,” Hartman said. “Responding to customer feedback, Cloud Drive now securely stores photos, videos and documents for sharing on an iPhone, iPod Touch, Android device or Kindle Fire.”