Canada’s passport photo makers are scrambling for a new business model
Posted On July 25, 2021
Canada’s top passport photo-maker says it’s scrambling to find a new market.
Canada Post has been hit hard by a record-high volume of passport photos, with sales of the popular items down 20 per cent this year to $2.3 billion.
But the Post, which has long had a reputation for high-quality photos, is scrambling to get back on track.
It’s offering discounts to retailers that stock passport photos.
The discount includes a $25 postage stamp fee and up to 30 per cent off for passport photo buyers, Post spokesman Scott Smith said in an email.
The discount also includes 10 per cent savings on passport photo purchases from a Post office or a Postcard Shop.
Postcard Shop offers passport photos for $7.99 a pop.
Smith said the Post is looking for an early adopter that wants to sell its passport photos and has no interest in reselling them.
In addition to the 10 per per cent discount, PostcardShop is offering an additional 20 per of a photo for $50, Smith said.
The company has also launched a new ad campaign that will run on television stations across Canada.
A spokesman for the National Post office in Vancouver, where the office also offers passport photo products, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Some people have been using passport photo sellers like Postcard, said Steve Cawley, chief executive officer of The Canadian Association of Post Office Operators, which represents more than 15,000 Post offices in Canada.
The association says passport photo sales are up 17 per cent in the last year.
It said sales of passport photo cards are up 20 per per on average and have been growing at an average of 3 per cent annually.
While many of these companies sell passport photos on a monthly basis, some of the larger players have had to raise prices to keep up with the demand.
PostcardShop, for instance, is offering a 10 per to 15 per cent fee on all passport photos sold to retailers, including Postcards, The Post’s own website says.
Cawley said his association is working with other retailers on ways to boost the price of passport photographs to help offset the increase in demand.
“If the prices are right, it’s a win-win for everybody,” he said.
Postcards has sold over 3 million passport photos this year, Cawleys said.
He added that there has been a lot of discussion in the industry about whether it would be a good idea to have a “golden era” of passport images, which are the best quality photos that are on the market.
The price of a passport photo could rise as the market matures, said Richard Kranz, an assistant professor at the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business.
For now, though, Cawsley said, the market is growing.
Last week, the Canadian Association for Post Office Business said it had raised $250,000 in venture capital funding to buy the rights to make passport photos to promote the new product.
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