Digital Photo Cards Arrive in Supermarkets

Digital photo cards and gifts are a relatively new offering in grocery stores, and one that does not seem to be cannibalizing sales of traditional greeting cards. Bashas', Chandler, Ariz., plans to invest in digital photo technology for the 2008 holiday season, said Mike Isom, director of general merchandise. The retail environments that could provide those options are going to win at retail, he said.

Digital photo cards and gifts are a relatively new offering in grocery stores, and one that does not seem to be cannibalizing sales of traditional greeting cards.

Bashas', Chandler, Ariz., plans to invest in digital photo technology for the 2008 holiday season, said Mike Isom, director of general merchandise. “The retail environments that could provide those options are going to win at retail,” he said.

To that end, online imaging solutions provider LifePics, Boulder, Colo., will roll out digital photo kiosks in several supermarket chains this year. Already, the company provides online imaging services for Safeway, Supervalu, Giant Eagle, Wegmans and several other retailers.

“Print-on-demand cards at the kiosk is a powerful way to enhance this category. The real benefits of cards from the kiosk is the unlimited potential for customization and personalization — plus, the supermarket does not need to carry thousands of dollars' worth of card inventory,” Vahe Christianian, founder and vice president of sales and business development for LifePics, told SN.

Meijer, Grand Rapids, Mich., said its Hewlett-Packard digital photo centers were very popular when they were rolled out during the 2007 holiday season. At the touchscreen kiosks, which have a Web-based interface, shoppers can print a variety of personalized photo gifts, including calendars, photo mugs and T-shirts.

“We are seeing a strong trend toward personalized photo posters, calendars and collage photo books becoming the gift of choice for people scrambling for last-minute holiday gift ideas,” said Pete Heinz, merchandising manager of Meijer's photo department.

In addition, Photo Marketing Association International, Jackson, Mich., found that photo greeting card sales nearly doubled from 270 million units in 2005 to 550 million in 2006.

“Now that consumers can edit and assemble their own cards online, there are far more possibilities for personal expression with cards,” stated Mintel International Group, Chicago, in its report on the market.