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01-25-2022, 01:20 AM   #31
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QuoteOriginally posted by Kunzite Quote
Do they have anything to announce globally?
No, but they should make it crystal clear what they are talking about. They are international company and, as articles from other websites show, they are observed by media worldwide. Even in small Poland photographic news websites published this post and there was lively discussion about it. Making it vague and prone to misunderstanding leads to another wave of "Pentax is doomed" across world and I doubt this serves company well.

01-25-2022, 01:29 AM - 1 Like   #32
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QuoteOriginally posted by jersey Quote
No, but they should make it crystal clear what they are talking about. They are international company and, as articles from other websites show, they are observed by media worldwide. Even in small Poland photographic news websites published this post and there was lively discussion about it. Making it vague and prone to misunderstanding leads to another wave of "Pentax is doomed" across world and I doubt this serves company well.
They did. People are misinterpreting, often with ill intent, often by not even reading the press release - just titles and words from some "news" article - and confirming whatever conclusion they already had in mind.
Your Polish friends would still believe that "Pentax is doomed" no matter what Ricoh Imaging says.
01-25-2022, 09:51 AM - 3 Likes   #33
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QuoteOriginally posted by JPT Quote
There has been a lot of commentary on Ricoh Imaging’s announcement that they are focusing on online sales in Japan, but almost all of it has been ill-informed and some of it downright misleading. I want to explain some of the context and why I think it is a confident decision, not a sign of weakness.

I can’t keep this brief, so get ready for a bit of a long read if you have the stomach for it.

The Japanese retail environment

Asahiman on the other site made a brief comment that the retail business is Japan is about 20 years in the past. I know what he means. In the past 20-30 years it has been dominated by some giant chain stores, the most notable are Yodobashi Camera, Bic Camera and Yamada Denki, but there are more. These stores put most of the smaller electronics stores out of business in the 1980s and 90s. It seems their time may be coming too, as the internet takes over.

The relationship manufacturers have with retailers is very one-sided as far as I can see. Retailers take their margin (of course - nothing unique there), but they also seem to insist on undercutting the manufacturer’s direct sale price by 10%, even with the margin. By acquiescing to that, all it does is get some space on the shelves, but to get a prominent position in the store there must be some extra incentive (Olympus/OMDS always have prime location, and there is no way they deserve better placement than Canon on sales). The manufacturers also employ sales people and sales assistants to man the sales aisles so the store doesn’t have to. So the stores get a ton of concessions and at the same time make sure that the maker cannot offer a competitive price. The retailers have their cake and eat it. Of course, Ricoh is not in a position to talk about this publicly, but I’m sure it has been a thorn in their side and all manufacturers for decades.

Recently, Ricoh and other makers have been trying to get around this by offering other incentives on their own stores, such as longer warranties and loyalty points to make it more attractive, but the basic price has to remain without discount. Another way Ricoh tries to get around this by selling items as “outlet”, which is refurbished or where the package is spoiled in some way, but they sell without any warranty. It’s the ridiculous game they have to play to sell at a competitive price.

What is happening now is the game is changing:
- The overall sales are falling and cameras have less space in the stores. It’s very obvious that the number of people looking at cameras in those storers has dramatically fallen and the space they devote to cameras has shrunk.
- Internet sales channels have been increasing for a long time, but until now there were still a lot of Japanese people who preferred not to shop online. That’s partly because people tend to live close to physical stores for anything they could want.
- COVID has forced almost everyone to start shopping online and now almost everyone is happy buying from eCommerce sites.
- Ricoh has had some luck with their improved store and direct contact with customers online, but they re restricted, as I mentioned above.
- Ricoh is now quite specialized and differentiated. Customers who want Pentax or GR are going to seek out the places where they can buy them. These are not the kind of cameras that random customers are talked into buying by a salesperson.

So I don’t think the point is to “become Leica” or raise prices above what competitors charge. It is to offer things at a competitive price, while maintaining their own margin. I also don’t think it means their business will shrink because the old model isn’t working for them anyway.

Nonsense estimations of sales

I’ve mentioned this before in other threads, but you see a lot of crazy sales estimates based on different data sources. The most silly one is the BCN market research company. This company collates data from a number electronics stores, but many of them don’t even sell cameras in the first place. Those that do are mostly local electronics stores that only sell a few brands, certainly not Pentax/Ricoh. Then there is Bic Camera, and I’m pretty sure that when you see the 5.8% Ricoh share of DSLRs, that is almost all Bic. Remember that BCN talks up their coverage and only puts these numbers out to drum up business for their paid market research services.

I’m not saying that Pentax/Ricoh has massive sales in Japan, but it is much better than it is in other countries. The point is customers buy Pentax/Ricoh where they are sold, and the sales would show up there, not in the BCN ranking.

Customized cameras

This is a very interesting and creative part of the plan. If they take orders directly, then they can do some unique things for customers. We don’t know how this will work, but I believe this will work something like configuring a computer at Apple.

Again, this is an extension of things Ricoh/Pentax has done before, so they know that they have customers who are interested in it.
- They have offered custom colors (e.g. K-x, K-r)
- They have done custom grip shapes (K20D)
- They have done adjustments to the shutter button (GR Digital)
- They have done versions of cameras with different sensor filters (K-5 II, K-5 IIs, 645 IR models)
- They have done upgraded electronics (K-1 conversion service)
- They have done interchangeable grips (KP)
- They have done extreme tricked out models (J-Limited)
- They have explained some more ideas for customisation (the 6 proposed versions of the K-3 III)

So they certainly have a lot of ideas they could implement, which would be difficult with the old retail model. I’m truly interesting to see how unique a camera you could order with this.

Ricoh stores in “malls”

This part of the announcement is a bit unclear to me. Certainly, they will set up brand stores within popular eCommerce platform like Amazon, Rakuten and Yahoo!. What is not clear is how people will get their hands on the products to try. Based on past practice, I guess they will have some kind of events around Japan or pop-up stores in actual physical retail malls. If they are sending fewer salespeople out to stores, they may be able to do more spot events.

Work/Studio/Atelier style production

I think this is really being misinterpreted. There is an image in Japan of a kind of manufacturing known as “monozukuri”. This typically means something that is created with a high level of craftsmanship and pride - usually at a smaller scale. I think they are trying to channel this kind of image and the idea that they will make something customized for the individual.

In reality, they already have a lot of products that are made in small batches with a lot of manual work. A good example is the Limited lens series, which has never been mass produced. Again, they have done this with success in the past, so it is just focusing in on what they do well. Let’s face it. When Pentax refers to “mass” production, it hasn’t been a very massive mass for a long time.

Only for Japan

Hopefully, what I’ve written will make it clear why the sales channel change is mostly not relevant to other markets. Japan has this unique retail environment and it’s been holding them back. It will be very interesting to see whether other manufacturers follow where Ricoh leads. It seems to me that Nikon, OMDS, Sigma or Tamron might be interested in this if it works. The others would face more hurdles.

Also, I think the customization model might be difficult to adopt overseas. Japan has a very seller-friendly returns policy. Once you buy something, you’re basically stuck with it unless it’s faulty. In the US, it seems you can basically send it back if you change your mind about the purchase. I’m sure Apple can easily sell a returned MacBook with upgraded RAM and SSD in their refurb store, but could Ricoh sell a Scarlet Rouge K-3 III with a monochrome sensor, a wood grip and a customized shutter button? I think it would be a problematic model in the US.

So I expect that Ricoh might just look at what the most popular customizations are in Japan, and sell them selectively as additional models, but without the same level of customization.

Conclusion

What I’ve written above is obviously just my take on the matter. I don’t have any inside knowledge and could well be wrong in some areas. However, I hope I have explained in sufficient detail to convince some readers that the sky is not falling. Most of the commentary on other sites is based on half-understood statistics and no knowledge of the Japan market. The DPR writer admitted he had just put the announcement through Google Translate, and his “solution” was to put it through another online translator.

You can say that Ricoh should have anticipated this and the announcement was badly written. But honestly, they probably believe this is a bold and proactive business strategy. They just didn’t understand the mentality of sites that see every move they make through the filter of “So when are they going bankrupt? Ha Ha Ha!” I’m still astonished by the incredible amateurishness, cynicism and negativity of the online camera press, and the willingness of people to accept it without question.

Personally, I’m really looking forward to seeing what happens on April 1. Don’t you think that if you had a new business model starting, you’d want to have some new products to sell? It might be an opportune time to release a new camera or lens.
Excellent summary. My interpretation is that they will imitate Dell's "build to order" manufacturing strategy and Tesla's "ignore the dealer- sell direct to the consumer "strategy. One of the common benefits of both parts of the strategy is inventory management. Fewer unsold cameras at the factory, fewer stuck in the distribution channel and no demonstration models on the counters of larger retailers. In addition, they theoretically get the profit margin benefits of cutting out the middle man. Well, maybe not the latter so much because Amazon will clearly take a cut, though partially offset by their incredible customer shipping options (here in the US but possibly not in Japan). Or if they ramp up their own direct sales to customers, they have to build a shipping, promotion and customer service infrastructure. But they do get control over pricing when they free themselves from the contracts with retailers.

As to the US market, Ricoh dealers are already as scarce as hen's teeth. I suspect B&H Photo has inventory in the store but I don't know who else. My local camera store used to be a RICOH dealer but no longer. I searched the RICOH website last year to see where they have dealers in the US. BestBuy stores all over the US were listed but it turns out they only sell the Theta line. Independent dealers were very sparse. So for the US, my impression is that they are already using an indirect on-line strategy.

My wife is Japanese. We take trips to Japan every couple of years. I stay two weeks and she stays a month or more to go visit family. On the last two trips I made sure I had a day or two in Tokyo so I could go visit BIC and Yodobashi along with doing some photography. I also usually visit the Canon and SONY showrooms in Ginza. I have never managed to find the RICOH showroom and I think maybe it has been closed down. Each one is a kid in a candy store experience - every time! But lately, I have noticed the camera sections at the big retailers are gotten smaller and are now poorly maintained. On my last trip in early 2021, I also visited MAP Camera, a large used camera retailer who I had bought a camera from on eBay here in the US. They had a white GR IV on the shelf that I had seen on eBay a week or two before. MAP has their own eBay "store" featuring all the inventory available for sale. Maybe a model for RICOH, certainly for refurbished product?

I returned to the US from my last trip in February 2021, just as COVID was happening. My wife and I are eager to go back but it is impossible right now. My wife has several elderly relatives she wants to see. Regretfully, one of them passed away just yesterday. The impact of COVID seeps into every corner of our lives.
01-25-2022, 11:55 AM   #34
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QuoteOriginally posted by KPL-NC Quote
I returned to the US from my last trip in February 2021, just as COVID was happening. My wife and I are eager to go back but it is impossible right now. My wife has several elderly relatives she wants to see. Regretfully, one of them passed away just yesterday. The impact of COVID seeps into every corner of our lives.
Sorry for your loss.

01-25-2022, 01:43 PM - 2 Likes   #35
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Ricoh in US has reacted to the statement (which was intended for japanese market only)


https://us.ricoh-imaging.com/statement-from-ricoh-imaging-americas-regarding...maging-co-ltd/

“Ricoh/Pentax will not change its distribution structure in North America, and the company has significant plans and goals for the North America market this year that will utilize mass production of its products,” said Kazumichi Eguchi, President, Ricoh Imaging Americas Corporation. “Customers in North America can continue to purchase Ricoh and Pentax cameras through our authorized dealers and directly via our website: https://us.ricoh-imaging.com/.”
01-25-2022, 02:13 PM   #36
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QuoteOriginally posted by KPL-NC Quote
My wife is Japanese. We take trips to Japan every couple of years. I stay two weeks and she stays a month or more to go visit family. On the last two trips I made sure I had a day or two in Tokyo so I could go visit BIC and Yodobashi along with doing some photography. I also usually visit the Canon and SONY showrooms in Ginza. I have never managed to find the RICOH showroom and I think maybe it has been closed down. Each one is a kid in a candy store experience - every time! But lately, I have noticed the camera sections at the big retailers are gotten smaller and are now poorly maintained. On my last trip in early 2021, I also visited MAP Camera, a large used camera retailer who I had bought a camera from on eBay here in the US. They had a white GR IV on the shelf that I had seen on eBay a week or two before. MAP has their own eBay "store" featuring all the inventory available for sale. Maybe a model for RICOH, certainly for refurbished product?

I returned to the US from my last trip in February 2021, just as COVID was happening. My wife and I are eager to go back but it is impossible right now. My wife has several elderly relatives she wants to see. Regretfully, one of them passed away just yesterday. The impact of COVID seeps into every corner of our lives.
Welcome to Pentax Forums, and thank you for your helpful insights. I hope things improve on the matter of visiting your Japanese relatives.

Last edited by RobA_Oz; 01-26-2022 at 04:51 PM.
01-25-2022, 04:01 PM   #37
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Many thanks for your bright comments. I will try to give some ideas of answers

About Stores in Malls
i think that Ricoh/Pentax could gain true advantages to put on in dedicated and specialized stores as a block of technical skills and know-how in making camera (Pentax or GR) and binoculars as well, all the product ranges in same place and time
When I have done showrooming people are coming to discover the products but most of all the way they can use it and pleased with it, but also evaluate what is the ethic and mindset of the brand talking with the salesmen even if they will quietly buy it on a website. That’s aley nowadays in all the markets

About Mass production
IMHO I think it refers of the fact that in the final product the lines of production are the first “contractors” as usual in the past. Workshop (or “monozukuri”) means here that customers relationship will be at first place. In that sense not only “versions” will be available with mass production (dedicated lines) but truly options picked-up on a list at the initiative of the customers (not only pentaxians who already know cameras but open to a larger users). I want thiat DLSR with that version (color of the body, flip screen, ...) but with those options (PRIME grade?, ISO grade?, touch screen? and so on) and creative ones (Don’t them yet!)

Sure that have made some studies before a such announcement. No worries !

02-02-2022, 11:38 PM   #38
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QuoteOriginally posted by REVAL Quote
i think that Ricoh/Pentax could gain true advantages to put on in dedicated and specialized stores as a block of technical skills and know-how in making camera (Pentax or GR) and binoculars as well, all the product ranges in same place and timeWhen I have done showrooming people are coming to discover the products but most of all the way they can use it and pleased with it, but also evaluate what is the ethic and mindset of the brand talking with the salesmen even if they will quietly buy it on a website. That’s aley nowadays in all the markets
Showrooms in capital cities around the world, and ability to try products is a good thing. I visited the Pentax/Ricoh showroom in Tokyo-Ginza here (https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ginza#/media/Datei:San-ai_Building_at_night.jpg) and it was definitely a great experience, and very welcoming Ricoh Imaging staff. But if I remember correctly Ricoh closed that location in recent years.
02-03-2022, 01:43 AM - 1 Like   #39
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QuoteOriginally posted by biz-engineer Quote
Showrooms in capital cities around the world, and ability to try products is a good thing. I visited the Pentax/Ricoh showroom in Tokyo-Ginza here (https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ginza#/media/Datei:San-ai_Building_at_night.jpg) and it was definitely a great experience, and very welcoming Ricoh Imaging staff. But if I remember correctly Ricoh closed that location in recent years.
Yes. That location is gone now. Before the merger it was the Ricoh showroom and Pentax had their own one in Shinjuku. For a while they kept both of them, but it was logical to close one of them. The Pentax space always got more visitors and it's a better space inside, capable of hosting small events.

The problem with the Ginza location is that it was in a small awkward space at the top of that building. Both floors were small doughnut shaped spaces, so it was like a circular corridor and that was it. No usable rooms. Also it was quite difficult to find the entrance, because you had to walk into another shop to get to the elevator. So, even though it was at the most prestigious and presumably expensive location in Japan, it was often deserted when I went there.

However, the cool thing is the Ricoh billboard is still on that building, right at the center of Ginza.
04-15-2022, 04:08 AM   #40
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QuoteOriginally posted by JPT Quote
The Japanese retail environment

Asahiman on the other site made a brief comment that the retail business is Japan is about 20 years in the past. I know what he means. In the past 20-30 years it has been dominated by some giant chain stores, the most notable are Yodobashi Camera, Bic Camera and Yamada Denki, but there are more. These stores put most of the smaller electronics stores out of business in the 1980s and 90s. It seems their time may be coming too, as the internet takes over.

The relationship manufacturers have with retailers is very one-sided as far as I can see. Retailers take their margin (of course - nothing unique there), but they also seem to insist on undercutting the manufacturer’s direct sale price by 10%, even with the margin. By acquiescing to that, all it does is get some space on the shelves, but to get a prominent position in the store there must be some extra incentive (Olympus/OMDS always have prime location, and there is no way they deserve better placement than Canon on sales). The manufacturers also employ sales people and sales assistants to man the sales aisles so the store doesn’t have to. So the stores get a ton of concessions and at the same time make sure that the maker cannot offer a competitive price. The retailers have their cake and eat it. Of course, Ricoh is not in a position to talk about this publicly, but I’m sure it has been a thorn in their side and all manufacturers for decades.

Recently, Ricoh and other makers have been trying to get around this by offering other incentives on their own stores, such as longer warranties and loyalty points to make it more attractive, but the basic price has to remain without discount. Another way Ricoh tries to get around this by selling items as “outlet”, which is refurbished or where the package is spoiled in some way, but they sell without any warranty. It’s the ridiculous game they have to play to sell at a competitive price.

What is happening now is the game is changing:
- The overall sales are falling and cameras have less space in the stores. It’s very obvious that the number of people looking at cameras in those storers has dramatically fallen and the space they devote to cameras has shrunk.
- Internet sales channels have been increasing for a long time, but until now there were still a lot of Japanese people who preferred not to shop online. That’s partly because people tend to live close to physical stores for anything they could want.
- COVID has forced almost everyone to start shopping online and now almost everyone is happy buying from eCommerce sites.
- Ricoh has had some luck with their improved store and direct contact with customers online, but they re restricted, as I mentioned above.
- Ricoh is now quite specialized and differentiated. Customers who want Pentax or GR are going to seek out the places where they can buy them. These are not the kind of cameras that random customers are talked into buying by a salesperson.

So I don’t think the point is to “become Leica” or raise prices above what competitors charge. It is to offer things at a competitive price, while maintaining their own margin. I also don’t think it means their business will shrink because the old model isn’t working for them anyway.

(...)
Ricoh Imaging just confirmed what you said and predicted:

リコーイメージングストアの強化に伴うPENTAXブランド商品の販売価格見直しについて|RICOH IMAGING

"Revision of sales prices of PENTAX products in line with the strengthening of the Ricoh Imaging Store

With the launch of the new sales structure on 1 April 2022, the Ricoh Imaging Store has renewed its existing sales prices and rules for granting redemption points to customers as part of its efforts to strengthen sales of the PENTAX brand. The sales price of the products offered will be directly reflected in the price of the product.

The sales prices of PENTAX-branded products and some other products have been revised.
The 10% point rebate for Ricoh Imaging Photo ID members is no longer offered and is reflected in the sales price.

The point benefit for Ricoh Imaging Family Club Club members (3%) and Premium members (5%) will continue.

The new prices are available from today.
"
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