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Exclusive: DigiDirect To Move Into Phones, Tablets

The move was revealed to CN in an interview with DigiDirect MD and founder, Shant Kradjian, who admitted camera demand is in decline, and is being eclipsed by smartphones with 8-13MP camera inbuilt. 

The retailer which already stocks camera brands like Sony, Panasonic, has also revealed it is in talks with Samsung to sell phones, tablets.  
“We’ll be introducing new products into our stores” he told CN. “Smartphones, tablets, phablets they feed off each other… its all the one system,” referring to mobile ecosystems like Android which now includes cameras.

In terms of mobile brands, Sony are “definitely a strong partners ..they’ve been there from day one.” Digidirect staff already use Sony’s Vaio tablets for sales and showing video demos to consumers. Samsung is “not as strong” for the retailer, currently, but talks are ongoing in relation to a mobile deal.

The DigiDirect boss believes “there’s a big market [for mobiles] and the sub $200-$300 camera is feeding off that, so if you can’t sell a low end camera sell a phone instead.” 

Phones are cannibalising cameras in the low end, “but not the high end,” which is why Digi is exiting the under $200 camera market and also cut its camcorder range.   

That low-end market is in “huge decline..we knew this 5 years ago so slowly built up the pro end”, says Kradjian, who first set up DigiDirect as an online-only player in 2007. But there’s huge momentum in DSLR and CSC’s. 

The cheapest camera on display in its Sydney CBD store is a Canon selling for $150, with every other device over the $200 mark. 

People are prepared to pay big bucks for a good camera, “they want to take better photos and want better quality cameras,” he says. Capturing lifetime memories, holidays is worth the investment from a consumer viewpoint. 

Its stores, website also sell a vast range of camera accessories, and are “higher margin” – there’s big demand for memory cards, filters, Gopro accessories, cleaning kits, at the moment. 

The ambitious etailer turned brick and mortar retailer with store presence in Sydney, and more recently, Melbourne and Brisbane,  now plans to  expand into every state in Australia. 

“We’ve a dollar target to hit and we’re aiming to hit that,” said DigiDirect’s 26 year old founder.  

However, Kradjian is staying schtum on whether new Digidirect stores will open this year or next, saying “we’re currently in talks” about expansion.

“We’re always looking at opportunities both locally and elsewhere.”  

Expansion of existing stores is also on the cards considering its planned move into mobiles, and is moving head office from Sydney to Melbourne, as the Victoria office has more space. 

In five years, Kradjian wants Digidirect to be destination store for “any” camera. 

“We don’t want consumer to go back online to some offshore supplier.” 

He also points to the fact none of its rivals including Teds Camera has full national coverage, but “we want to be there,” he says. 

Tomorrow: Digdirect MD tells CN how it turned ex-Camerahouse stores around and why “the focus is still on bricks and mortar.”