Colleague and shopping pundit, Herb Sorensen (www.shopperscientist.com), will tell you without hesitation that there is much to be gained by enhancing store layouts, particularly those that impede fluid shopper mobility within the store. As just one example, we known from past studies on the topic that the more aisles and barriers a store has, the slower the pace of shopper spending. This is particularly important when coupled with the knowledge that shoppers do not have an infinite amount of time to navigate through a store.
In fact, after a few minutes into the trip, shoppers consistently speed up their pace, and accordingly decrease the rate in which they buy, speeding by aisles and categories that appear to be irrelevant to the shopper’s immediate needs or more commonly just represent too much time and energy to explore.
Most retailers are oblivious to these shopping tendencies. In fact they design and stock their stores with the mindset that more aisles and products mean more sales opportunities. It is just a matter of manipulating the shopper into spending more time in the store to take advantage of all of these great new products and departments. Nothing is further from the truth.
Retailers who have taken the time to track their shoppers through the store…whether it be by personal observation or by technical means, are often surprised by many of the discoveries, including the following:
1. How deep into the shopping trip, aka how long it takes for the shopper to select their first item for purchase from the time they enter the store.
2. The miniscule percentage of time shoppers actually spend “shopping” as opposed to the time they spend traversing the store getting from one “shopping event” to the next.
3. How little of the physical store shoppers actually traverse on any given shopping trip.
4. How few aisles shoppers actually fully navigate as opposed to “diving into an aisle” quickly for a planned purchase and then revert quickly back to the perimeter of the store.
5. How shoppers migrate naturally to open space, where they can clearly view the entire store, and conversely how consistently shoppers avoid tight, confining alcoves and aisles
Each of the aforementioned shopping tendencies represent opportunities for the retailer to embrace. By understanding these consumer practices, retailers can make both subtle and overt changes to their layout and merchandising plan, resulting in a more efficient shopping experience for the consumer and larger baskets sizes for the retailer.