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Wal-Mart to Online Customers: Say Cheese

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Posted July 2, 2001 By Beth Cox     Feedback

In a move that may bring digital pictures to the masses, the discount retailer debuts a throwaway camera that includes an online picture service built in, for all of $6.84.

If you want to fool around with online pictures, but don't want to plunk down a couple of hundred bucks for a digital camera, Wal-Mart has a deal for you -- a new disposable camera that includes Wal-Mart's Pictures Online service as part of the price.

And the price would appear to be within the range of almost all those in Wal-Mart's customer demographic - $6.84, including the online service, which the company said is a $2.74 value.

The cameras are being offered at real world Wal-Mart stores nationwide, as well as at Walmart.com.

The company said that the disposable 35 mm cameras are "tagged" so when a camera is dropped off at Wal-Mart, the pictures are automatically uploaded to the Walmart.com Photo Center. Customers will be able to take pictures with special camera, return it to their local Wal-Mart for developing and have their pictures posted -- securely -- at the Walmart.com Photo Center for sharing and printing.

The company cited data from analyst group IDC saying that prints from digital images will grow 261 percent from 2001 to 2004. Wal-Mart claims that more people develop their photos at Wal-Mart than at any other retailer in the country and the company is clearly hoping to keep it that way.

Competitors such as Ofoto.com, recently acquired by Kodak, offer a similar service, but customers have to mail the film. The company then puts the pictures online and sends the negatives back. Yahoo has a similar service in conjunction with Shutterfly, which also handles a digital photo service for the Best Buy stores and has a deal with Dell Computer.

Wal-Mart no doubt is betting on bricks and clicks, hoping that the frequency of its in-store customer visits will go up, enhancing cross-sell and impulse buy opportunities.

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