In an era that has convenience services operators considering new opportunities, a southern California start-up company is seeking operators who want to generate profit from the millions of photos taken on smartphones every day. As it turns out, smartphone users are quite interested in printing some of their photos.
“According to Keypoint Intelligence, over 1.4 trillion photos will be taken by the end of 2020, with over 90% of them snapped with smartphones” says Anton Pereiaslavtsev, founder of Zebra Instant, the maker of a new vending machine that easily prints smartphone photos. “Even the savviest users have trouble getting their smartphone photos printed, especially in traditional convenience store locations such as Walgreens, where the kiosks are antiquated and difficult to use. We designed our system with simplicity in mind, which creates a tremendous financial opportunity for operators.”
Strong demand for photo printing
Anton said the demand for smartphone photo printing is well documented. Keypoint Intelligence notes that 36 billion photo prints, plus an additional 1.4 billion personal photo gift items, like books, cards, and calendars, will be produced worldwide on an annual basis. Up to 50% of those orders will be driven by mobile devices, according to industry estimates.
With a background in photography and technology, Anton said Zebra Instant was founded after he personally found it frustrating to print selected photos from the thousands that were on his own smartphone. “I saw a version of this vending system in many locations in Europe and Asia, but I knew that we needed to make a system that would be appealing to the US consumer,” he said. “Our Text-to-Print software, touchscreen, printer and design greatly improved an already successful concept.”
Concept exists, but US is wide open
Photo printing machines are beginning to appear all over the world but are rarely seen in North America. “The competition has a very boxy and bulky looking vendor, with an unnecessarily large footprint,” said Anton. “We streamlined the design, enhanced the finished product and introduced a portable countertop version that’s great for both events and retail locations.”
Zebra Instant was developed with extreme simplicity and convenience in mind. “It’s no different than texting a photo to a friend, except you text the photo to the vending machine, swipe your credit card and instantly receive your 4 x 6 photo with a protective gloss coating. Operators typically charge $1.00 per photo but can set their own prices.
In addition to prints, consumers can also purchase popular photo merchandise, such as t-shirts, mugs and magnets, giving operators an additional revenue stream.
Multiple revenue sources
The merchandize can be easily ordered on the phone and Zebra Instant’s manufacturing partners handle the fulfillment. “This provides a nice revenue opportunity for operators,” said Anton. “You have three clear avenues for revenue – photo printing, merchandize sales and when using the countertop version – special event revenue, such as conventions, conferences, weddings and large gatherings of any kind.”
One important question for operators: What kind of revenue can be expected from a Zebra Instant vendor? “Like every other vending machine, the revenue is driven by the type of location,” said Anton. “What we know is that 1% to 5% of the people who have access to the Zebra Instant vendor will use it.”
Anton said that ideal locations include anywhere you would typically see people surfing the Internet or texting. “We are not looking at interrupting people who are going about their business. Ideally, they have some time, they are not in a rush and they are waiting for something,” he added.
Potentially strong locations include convenience stores, airports, train stations, bus stations, malls, car washes, laundromats, health care facilities, convention centers, hotel conference areas, the department of motor vehicles, college campuses and even hair salons. “A few minutes to spare with nothing to do but wait, plus access to the Zebra Instant machine – that is the magic combination,” said Anton. “Even the break area at a large company or business campus could work.”
Operators – A perfect fit
“We see convenience services operators as a perfect fit for Zebra Instant. Our system is after all, a vending machine,” Anton said. “While someone is using the vending machines or getting a cup of coffee to settle in to a waiting area, it seems like a perfect extension of behavior, to easily turn a special memory on your phone to a beautiful print in your hand.”
“We are ready to equip operators with everything they need in about one week. Of course, all they really need is a location, a plug and internet access,” Anton said.
Anton points to other important reasons why operators and Zebra Instant are a good fit. “Operators already have access to high traffic locations. Also, Zebra Instant can open a door for them, giving an operator a new reason to meet with a prospect. That meeting could lead to additional vending, coffee service or micro market opportunities beyond Zebra Instant,” he said.
Ready for rapid growth in 2021
Like so many great ideas that were launched in 2020, the pandemic caused Zebra Instant to hit the pause button. “We see 2021 as a big year for Zebra Instant and we would love to have a conversation with operators who are interested in learning more about what is truly a ground floor opportunity,” Anton explained. “We fully expect all of the ideal locations for Zebra Instant vendors to come back very strong in 2021.”
Industry consultant Bob Tullio (www.tullioB2B.com) is a content specialist who advises operators in the convenience services industry on how to build a successful business from the ground up. In July, Tullio launched a You Tube Channel, b2b Perspective, designed to “elevate your business in 2 minutes” and is currently developing an online course, “Leverage the power of LinkedIn to grow your business.”
As he is a recognized industry expert in business development and sales, NAMA hired him to write and narrate the new online course, “Selling Convenience Services,” which is now available. Use discount code B2B10 for an instant discount and for free access to upcoming Q & A Webinars from Tullio in the coming months. Here is a free sample of the course.