Why is taking pictures without buying a crime these days? 

Last Sunday. I went into a smartphone store and took pictures of the products. Before that, I did the same in an interior decorating boutique. Why? Because the big, golden pineapple on display gave me a brilliant idea for an internal award. I’ve been thinking about the right shape for ages. And there it was, smiling at me when I least suspected it. 

I wanted to touch base with my team members on the idea, at the team meeting the following Monday. But the Picture Police had other plans. 

You have the right to remain stupid

“Please don’t photograph our products, sir.” Behind me is the store clerk, frowning upon me. “Why not?”, I asked. “Because you’ll just search for the same product online and buy it there.”  

“So, what you’re selling is infinitely more expensive than it is on the internet?”, I asked him, completely stunned. 

When I left the store, the whole crew stared at me. Triumphant of their capture of the Idea Thief that had plagued the city for years. Saving their business model that was under pressure because of this unspeakable crime. 

That’s just picture perfect

Today, that store has moved to an 800m² large warehouse in a busy part of Antwerp. It has a sign now, saying “If you take pictures of our products, magazines or books, you’re in violation of copyright and the store will demand you to buy the item at displayed price.” 


Ok. Sometimes, I WhatsApp a picture of a magazine to my wife. Just to know if I should buy it or not. Everyone does it. It’s our phone, it’s practically forged to the end of our arm. An extension to our visual memory that lets us communicate in real time. Star Trek turned reality. 

Everybody be cool! It’s the Copyright Criminal Squad!

No Pictures Please. Our business model isn’t ready for customers that don’t just buy our items and shut up.  

The clerk probably missed out on a promising policing career, with his impressive brain that convinced him that I was not just taking pictures of the cover, but that I would do the same to all 233 pages of the recent Monocle issue. I’d probably upload it to CopyrightCriminals.com as well. 

To serve and protect (our retail model)

To be blunt, prohibiting customers to do something that has become so common, doesn’t seem like the right way to protect your retail modelAnd it sure as hell isn’t the way to futureproof it.  

It shortcuts the customer journey and reduces selling to direct purchase only. Whereas today, two-step-buying has become the norm. Think, go back or order through the web shop. 

Be creative instead of an idiot

In times where the client has become the lead of the buying process, going for the bully approach of selling is mere stupidity.  

And no, clients only looking and not always buying isn’t the way you’ve pictured it. But there are some zillion other ways to go about this. Open a web shop, for crying out loud. Communicate that you sell omnichannel. Talk to your clients, ask them whether they like what they’re photographing and do your job from there.  

It’s GoldenPineapples.com for me!

Both of those shops are off the shopping list at my house. I’ll be searching golden pineapples online tonight. And looking at magazine covers on Instagram and Pinterest. So much better for my budget.  

Serves them right. Right? 



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