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Second-hand camera shops focus on Web

Updated: 2012-07-16 10:21
By Huang Ying ( China Daily)

Second-hand camera shops focus on Web

Second-hand camera businesses are seeing their profit margins become thinner and thinner because potential buyers can easily compare prices of the same product online with just a few clicks. [Photo / China Daily] 

Back in 2007, when Wang Ming started his second-hand camera business, there were only five online shops on, a website to which digital camera buyers would go for advice and information about the camera market and photography.

But now has become a popular website among amateur and professional photographers. The number of daily visits to it have reached 1 million and its registered users have increased to 2 million, according to the website's statistics. With its growing prevalence among camera users, Fengniao has also become an important online trading platform for all kinds of cameras, including digital single lens reflex and film single lens reflex - devices that show precisely what will appear in the resultant image.

"The number of deals made is about seven to eight in my shop every day and, in the past five years, the value of total trade volume reached more than 10 million yuan ($1.6 million) with a majority of revenue coming from our online store on," said Wang Ming, who runs a brick-and-mortar second-hand camera store in Maliandao photographic equipment shopping market, one of Beijing's largest trade centers for photographic apparatus.

About 80 percent of the cameras in Wang's store - Jindian Camera - come from individual camera owners across the country, who send their used cameras to Wang's shop via express delivery and then get paid through online payment platforms. The rest 20 percent come from other business or media organizations.

The value of stock in Wang's Jindian Camera is more than 1 million yuan, he said.

Usually, the price gap between a brand new camera and a used one is up to 1,000 yuan if the product model is in demand in the market, Wang said.

However, the price of a second-hand camera is adjusted according to the market situation. For example, when an updated version of a camera model enters the market, the price of the old version's second-hand products will be lowered.

"Sometimes, price cuts happen seven or eight times in my store," Wang said.

It is not an easy job setting the price of used cameras.

Zheng Liping, owner of another second-hand camera shop, Beyond Camera, has decided to start selling new products instead in a month.

"I made the decision because it's burdensome for me to assess the value of used cameras, which can only be done by me in my store," Zheng said.

The complexity of second-hand cameras requires the workers who are responsible for setting prices to have comprehensive skills, from knowing common machine faults to having good communication skills with customers. It is an ability that can only be gained through years of working in the field, he said.

The potential for business development is also part of the reason he made the strategy shift because the second-hand camera market has gradually become saturated.

Beijing-based Wukesong photographic equipment market has been operating for nearly 15 years. It originally developed from second-hand apparatus sales.

Currently most shops in it sell new products, with just a few stores selling second-hand items, said Zheng, whose Beyond Camera is located in the market.

"The profit margin from selling a used camera is not as large as some consumers imagine because the Internet has made the second-hand camera market more transparent than ever before," said Wang.

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