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Brief Published: 9 Jan 2013

Polaroid Plans Retail Photo Bars, US


Multinational electronics company Polaroid has announced plans to open 10 retail stores in the US this year offering photo printing straight from consumers’ smartphones.

Visitors to Polaroid Fotobars will be able to upload photos from their cameras and smartphones wirelessly to in-store terminals. Once the images are uploaded, they can choose from a wide variety of printing and framing options, which are then produced and shipped worldwide within 72 hours. Gallery-style wall displays give consumers the ability to see and touch examples of artworks produced using these treatments.

According to Polaroid, the idea is for these shops to offer “a recreational and entertainment destination in addition to a place to shop” – effectively a real-world testing ground where consumers can engage with the product. For more on how brands are reinventing stores as test venues and product playgrounds, see In-Store Interactive and Future Stores.

Meanwhile, specialist staff called ‘phototenders’ will also be on hand to touch up images, suggest treatments and guide customers through the process – a move that follows the growing predilection for sales associates with specialist skills. For more on this topic, see Super Service in the Retail Sector.

The first store is set to open in Delray Beach, Florida next month, with locations in New York, Las Vegas and Boston among those also planned for 2013. One special feature at the Delray Beach flagship will be a multi-purpose room called The Studio, which will host photography classes, private parties and a portrait service.

Best known for its iconic instant film cameras, Polaroid has struggled to stay relevant since the advent of digital photography and has filed for bankruptcy twice since 2001. The appointment of US pop star Lady Gaga as its creative director in 2010 (Stylus previously reported on her inaugural Grey Label Polaroid range) is among its recent efforts to reinvent itself.

It may well have struck gold with its sociable experiential store environment, bearing in mind 1.5 billion photos are reportedly taken every day.

Polaroid Fotobar