Skip to main content

Framing a hot item beyond seasonal success


Even before the holidays started, folks knew that digital photo frames were going to be a big deal, but reports since acknowledge that they were among the hottest selling holiday items. The question is, now that the holidays are over, how should retailers merchandise the segment in order to keep it hot?

The picture frame segment must be regarded as the dynamic element in home decor, a category that otherwise hasn’t been particularly lively lately. Indeed, retailers heavily dependent on it, including Kirkland’s and Tuesday Morning, have suffered.

Enthusiasm for digital photo frames has been intense among both retailers and consumers. In November 2007, during a third-quarter conference call, BJ’s chairman Herb Zarkin noted that digital photo frames had major potential and were a central part of the warehouse club retailer’s technology strategy for winning holiday bucks. “We are making a big statement in digital photo frames with a fine assortment of sizes and price ranges,” he said.

Photo frames played a positive role in BJ’s success in December 2007 when sales increased 6.2% to $1.03 billion and comparable-club sales advanced 3%. Digital frames “were a good item for us,” a BJ’s source confirmed in January.

Now retailers are looking to turn seasonal success into ongoing sales. Digital frames play into Meijer’s new photo category strategy. Meijer debuted a new digital photo department in November 2007 co-branded with Hewlett-Packard that became a favorite holiday stop among its customers.

Naturally, Meijer sought holiday-oriented sales. “Our customers…now have the opportunity to create personalized holiday cards, allowing them the flexibility to create cards with their own images right up until the eleventh holiday hour,” Pete Heinz, merchandising manager for Meijer’s photo department, said during the holidays. The new technology also creates T-shirts, posters, photo books and calendars from personal pictures.

Digital frames are a natural extension of the Meijer photo strategy, and are being merchandised with that in mind. Spokesman Frank Guglielmi told Retailing Today that Meijer is setting up digital photo frame displays immediately adjacent to the photo department, which itself is set at the electronics section periphery.

In its latest prototype, the Cascade store in Grand Rapids, Mich., home and photo sections located close to one another, which could provide cross merchandising opportunities, especially seasonally. After all, not all shoppers visit the electronics section, so digital frames provide an opportunity and a challenge. Secondary and seasonal displays may be necessary, despite department boundaries, to take advantage of photo frames’ current popularity and maximize their ongoing potential.

This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds