Canon has made Calgary home to North America's first Image Square, an "experience centre" that aims to redefine how customer loyalty is won.
The term "Image Square" has been used by Canon overseas, but Canon Canada's rendering of the concept is unique on its own. Open as of yesterday, the experience centre is a place for photography enthusiasts of all levels to play, learn, and discover.
Image Square, located at Eighth Avenue Place in downtown Calgary, consists of several different areas for consumers to test cameras for themselves. Featuring highly interactive displays that boast an incredible attention to detail, the experience centre offers a full workflow: consumers can take their own photos and videos, edit said media, and then print their work out to take home. They can also email their photos to themselves from within the store, and use much of the gamified software seen in the centre on Canon's website at home.
Expert staff are everywhere to help interested consumers learn more, but there's also ample opportunity for visitors to interact with Canon's technology on their own terms—the experience is determined completely by the customer. It would be easy to spend hours in there and not even realize it. And then come back the next day and enjoy a completely new experience. It's like Disneyland for the amateur photographer.
There's a professional-level portait studio, a room for educational courses to be held, and an entire backroom dedicated to business customers. There are lenses customers can attach to their own cameras and test out and an editing station with both a PC and an iMac running all the latest software. But the craziest thing about Image Square isn't it's remarkable level of immersiveness and all-encompassing approach: it's the fact it's not a store.
And we don't mean it's not a store in the sense that it's discover-centric, not sales-focused. We mean the experience centre literally can't sell you Canon products—it doesn't carry any inventory. The centre is truly a no-pressure environment for consumers to learn about photography, filmmaking, and printing in new and friendly ways.
"It's an experience that we're selling," a Canon Canada executive told Techvibes in an interview. "When consumers come in, they can find out everything they need to know about a product, then they can choose to buy it from a local store or online. We think it's a great way to help the consumer. We don't want them to feel any pressure."
“Canon Image Square represents a true first for Canada, and it sets the standard for how our industry interacts with customers by offering an opportunity to experience first-hand our state-of-the-art products and technology,” said Kevin Ogawa, CEO of Canon Canada. “We are committed to providing our customers and prospective customers with the best experience with our products, and that includes allowing them to touch and try our products before they purchase.”
Canon Canada also reached out to 500px, a Toronto-based startup, for a partnership. As a result, Image Square features a wall where 500px's Calgary-based members can have their Canon-shot photos displayed on a gallery wall.
Currently, Canon has no plans for a second Image Square in Canada. As much as it's a full-on investment, it's also a huge experiment and risk for the company. But if it's successful, the company says it will look at opening a second centre.