Canon has opened its first experience store in Canada, which showcases a range of products and has a working photo studio.
The store will also give visitors the opportunity to interact with photos on a touchscreen wall, while exhibits will be set up so that people can point and shoot at displays with a range of cameras.
Canon is not the first imaging company to open an experience store for consumers to touch and try products before purchasing. Leica has concept stores spread across the world, while Nikon had pop-up stores in shopping centres across Australia at the end of 2012.
While the Image Square store is only in Canada at the moment, according to the Canon Rumors blog, Australia may be next. Canon Rumors correctly predicted the Canadian Canon store before the official announcement, and mentioned that Sydney or Sao Paulo, Brazil, could be next, with the company reportedly buying up "heritage" buildings for the new stores.
Australian events such as The Digital Show have proved to be popular with local audiences, with attendance figures hitting the tens of thousands. These trade shows have similar displays for consumers to touch and try products before buying.
At the end of last year,pointing to the steady decline of the consumer electronics market in Australia, with the photography category being the second-worst performer in terms of overall value in the third quarter of 2012.
The introduction of manufacturer-driven retail presences could help stem the tide of customers buying parallel imports. A touch-and-try experience centre, along with more personalised service from staff members who are not tied to commission-based wages, may be a way to lure people back into stores.
Canon Australia responded to the Image Square opening with the following statement:
Canon Canada's experience centre is an exciting initiative by them to offer consumers another way to get hands-on with our products before they buy. Each Canon sales and marketing company makes decisions independently based on what will offer consumers the best possible Canon experience, and so far in Australia this has been through our local authorised partners.
Update: 17 January 2013 with comment from Canon Australia.