RealTime IT News

PhotoChannel Cries Wolf

[CANADA] Executives at PhotoChannel Networks Inc. and Wolf Camera Inc.'s wolfXpress.com are no doubt gathering to strike a pose to capture their recent alliance for posterity.

Atlanta, Georgia-based wolfXpress.com, the e-tailing division of longtime bricks-and-mortar photography equipment retailer Wolf Camera is on board as the camera and photography product fulfillment source for PhotoChannel customers, and will be available as an option of members of the PhotoChannel Network.

Set up as an international digital imaging network, PhotoChannel links consumers to its services either directly (through its Web site) or through syndicated sites at online portals and communities to PhotoChannel Network members that are equipped with digital minilabs and digital lab photo kiosks. The company offers online photo print services including film processing, scanning, storage and printing of digital images. Customers are able to preview and edit their images before they order prints, and receive home delivery of the pictures once processed. Once images are uploaded, PhotoChannel offers customers the option of ordering enlargements and customized photo merchandise, such as T-shirts, coffee mugs and puzzles.

Like their bricks-and-mortar counterparts, online photo-finishing companies are in fierce competition with one another. Aside from the firepower of industry giants like Eastman Kodak and FujiFilm, PhotoChannel must also be on the lookout for online competitors like Shutterfly, Snapfish, PhotoWorks, Ofoto and Zing. In September 2000, PhotoChannel appeared to step up the competition when it released a letter of intent to merge with the Dayton, Ohio-based photo finishing chain Moto Photo Inc., which operates 422 locations in the United States and abroad. The merger would give PhotoChannel significant exposure both to consumers and retailing behemoths like Wal-Mart -- an optimum host for PhotoChannel kiosks. However, PhotoChannel has not officially released any further details of the agreement since the fall.

For now, PhotoChannel will continue to brand itself as the easiest one-stop photo shop for members and consumers. "PhotoChannel's selection of wolfXpress is consistent with our mission to offer PhotoChannel Network members and their customers only best of breed services and leading-edge technology," said Geoffrey G. Briant, chairman and CEO of PhotoChannel. "This is yet another value-added option PhotoChannel offers to members of The PhotoChannel Network. Members can utilize the wolfXpress solution in either a Wolf-branded, PhotoChannel Network-branded, or their own branded version of an online camera store at a fraction of the cost and time it would take to create, implement and manage an online store themselves."