Addressing an ongoing problem in online flower sales – the disparity between arrangements designed to look good on camera vs. looking good in real life.
Florists that depend on photographs to sell their products have always wrestled with a dilemma. Now that so much of retail floral is conducted online, through flower shop websites that rely on product images, this is more important than ever.
The problem is that many, if not most, floral arrangements are intended to be viewed from many angles. Consider a centerpiece – it should look good to all guests seated around it, with no real front or back.
The problem comes when a photograph of that arrangement is needed for a flower shop website. Should the arrangement be prepared and photographed as it would in the real world, or so it looks best on camera?
If it is prepared exactly as it would be in real life in results in a underwhelming and confusing image. Consider a centerpiece that promised six lilies and twelve roses. When arranged to look good as a centerpiece only some of those flowers will be visible from any one angle – the rest will be hidden on the "back" side. The photo – in which only four lilies and eight roses are visible – does not match the description, or seem as impressive as it suggests.
As a result flowers are often arranged in a different "one-sided" format when they are going to photographed. All of the flowers appear on the front where they will be visible to the camera (good), which results in a back from which almost no flowers are visible (not so good).
The customer falls in love with this one-sided image and buys the arrangement, leaving the florist to make a difficult choice...
• They can prepare the arrangement just like shown in the photograph. The flowers will match the customers expectation, at least from one side. If the customer expected that the arrangement would look the same from all sides they will be disappointed.
• Prepare the arrangement so it looks good from all angles. The problem here is that it won't look as good as the photograph from any one angle. The flowers, which are all visible on one side of the arrangement in the photograph, are now spread around the arrangement. Again the customer is likely to be disappointed as the flower arrangement does not look like what they fell in love with on the floral website.
The underlying problem is that one-sided photographs set an unrealistic expectation that always leads to disappointment. The only question is the kind of disappoint.
Could florists avoid the problem by not using one-sided arrangements in their photographs? There are two problems – the first is that the photograph (as mentioned earlier) becomes confusing and misleading. Because flowers that are mentioned in the description won't be visible in the photo it looks there is an error – a photo/description mismatch.
The other problem is that the florist who photographs a one-sided arrangement is always going to win the comparison shopper. One sided arrangements always look better in photographs and on flower shop websites, and the florists that uses them is always going to get the sale over a florist that doesn't.
Clay Atchison III of McAdams Floral in Victoria TX is working on a solution. Clay, the founder of InLieuOfFlowers.org and one of the most respected authorities on the sympathy side of the flower business has long been considered an innovator in the floral industry. Frustrated by the dilemma one-sided photographs create he has devised a potential solution.
Vistors that add certain products to their cart on McAdams Floral e-commerce floral website see this message:
This arrangement was created and photographed as a one-sided design to view all flowers. If you would like any version in an all-around centerpiece style, please select the appropriate style.
They can then leave it as a one-sided arrangement (as depicted in the photo) or add flowers so that it looks good from all angles ("centerpiece style) for an additional fee.
It is very interesting solution to an old problem. It aims to avoid disappointment by clarifying expectations.