How Kamera Express reinvents itself and grows internationally

15 / 12 / 2023

Kamera Express has been active in the field of photography and videography for over 25 years in The Netherlands. They love to share their passion with their customers by providing them with advice and the right equipment. The retail chain now operates in a large part of Europe. How did this rapid expansion come about?

A man taking a picture of something a woman standing to him is pointing

Kamera Express was founded in the 1990s by Peter Merceij in a small garage box in a Dutch town called Capelle aan den Ijssel, where it quickly became the place to be for photography lovers.

After the modest start, the company has grown over the years with now 33 stores in four countries and an online presence in 10 European countries Kamera Express’ team consists of photographers, videographers, gadget freaks and of course true enthusiasts. And they love to share their passion for photography and videography with their customers by providing them with the right equipment.

How did this rapid expansion come about and how did Worldline play a part in this success story?

Lydia Van Dijk, product owner in charge of e-commerce, explains: “What makes our company unique is its can-do attitude. It’s very typical of the place we are from. It all comes down to ‘Less talk, more action’. And this no-nonsense approach has paid off for us, as we’ve seen nothing but growth in recent years.”

International growth - trust is crucial when it comes to payments

With an online presence in the Benelux, Germany, France, the UK, Italy, Austria and Spain, Kamera Express gained practical knowledge of what steady growth means for an online retailer. As they are committed to sharing the facts about their experience, they certainly won’t lure others into thinking it was easy to achieve.

“We have enjoyed a solid growth especially online and we mainly owe our expansion to the acquisition of local eCommerce stores in new countries, it was also accompanied by some challenges.” Lydia points out. “This has been less obvious for us than it might seem, as there are different platforms behind the websites. Bringing them into line was honestly quite a tour de force.”

“It is not just the various systems that create challenges”, Soraya De Meijer, team lead of the website adds. “There are often other important differences between countries too. In terms of language of course, but also in terms of payments. Trust is the key word here. That goes from using the correct names for products to offering trusted payment options. An accessible and reliable payment system is indispensable. It’s why we work together with Worldline.”

Being quick to deliver - putting customer experience front and centre

So if managing these acquisitions has been less easy for Kamera Express than one might think, how come the whole adventure still turned out to be such a success story? Well, the short answer would be by putting the customer experience front and centre. This is when being quick to deliver becomes so important - and creates a difference for the shoppers.

Soraya tells us: “For Kamera Express, the pandemic was both a blessing and a curse. All the shops closed and we had to change gears rapidly. We developed a system where customers could pick up their orders up at the door 30 minutes later.”

Lydia adds: “We also managed to ‘digitise’ the advice we usually gave in-store. We offered that information for free, as a kind of service. In other words, we now try to give our online customers the same experience as in the shop. We also recently launched a chatbot and customers can also reach us via WhatsApp.”

Worldline makes a difference for the end user

Customers have high expectations, they want to pay in the way they prefer everywhere. Why is this important to focus on as a merchant? Because otherwise they simply won’t buy anything from you and they will go elsewhere. Being at these customers beck and call and in different countries, that is perhaps the biggest challenge of all. “Fortunately, we can count on Worldline’s knowledge and expertise about the local payment methods our customers prefer. They manage all our payment traffic, both online and in-store and they really act as a business partner” says Soraya.

“It’s one of the reasons we chose Worldline,” Lydia continues. “They offer all the payment options on one scalable platform while thinking alongside us. Together we analyse customer preferences and Worldline advise us what we should and should not offer.”

Soraya explains: “They also come to our rescue when there are fraud attempts. Worldline scans all transactions, notices suspicious activity and sounds the alarm when necessary. Last year, for example, we had a problem with GoPro sales in the UK. When Worldline switched off one of the payment methods, that problem was immediately solved.”

A customer centric approach for more future successes

“We are currently working very hard on a new website,” Lydia replies when asked where Kamera Express will be in two years’ time. “Providing the right assistance to customers is our most important goal. We want to offer each of our customers a customised shopping experience and there might also be a loyalty program. And, of course, we are constantly keeping our eyes open for new trends or changes in the market.”

“Klarna is one of those. Apart from credit and debit cards, we don’t offer a “Buy Now, Pay Later” option like Klarna or Afterpay. We’re now looking into that,” Soraya adds. “I don't think you have to be the strongest, the smartest or the biggest to survive as a company. It’s all about who can adapt the fastest. And that is precisely the strength of Kamera Express. ‘Less talk, more action’, now you know the drill!”