What’s truly happening in retail shopping aisles?
There have been many studies conducted on consumer behaviour particularly when it comes to what motivates shoppers or consumers to buy into a particular brand or why they choose a particular retail format or store, but what motivates customers while they are in-store?
After spending many years working for a number of different retailers from Supermarkets to forecourt convenience stores I have noticed that there are some common factors that will make or break a great store layout which in turn can lead to a great shopping experience or a terrible one. Gerry Byrne
Ever wondered why you like shopping in a certain store but can’t really explain why?
The common statistic on the percentage of shoppers who make their purchase decisions in store of 70% is not difficult to believe, but this figure is a very important figure as it also means what’s done in store has an enormous impact on what motivates shoppers to buy! but knowing this figure is not enough to plan out a store layout you need to first understand the different decisions shoppers are making and be able to develop strategies that will trigger these purchase decisions or make for a smoother shopping experience that will keep keep bringing them back.
To understand what factors make for a great store layout we must first understand how shoppers shop!
Even though most shoppers have planned what they need in advance or may already have a shopping list they still want to be engaged by what’s happening in store, many shoppers don’t make the final decision to purchase a brand until the very last minute!, factors such price, visibility, promotion or even location on shelf can affect their decision on what ends up in their baskets.
There’s a fine balance of having the right amount of ‘interruption zones’ as so called which may include offers, POS, promotions or demonstrations that will annoy shoppers in their need to quickly find the items their looking for, get it wrong and you’ll push your customers away, get it right and you will create customer loyalty by making for a smoother shopping experience.
Top tip ; Always understand and strictly follow the consumer decision tree in your individual category planograms and stock a mix of low, medium and premium priced brands that will meet the majority of your shoppers needs.
In store branding or feature displays are the key to get shoppers attention and put your brand front of mind.
Despite many shoppers claiming they know what they wanted to buy before they entered a store many buy on impulse or are reminded that they need something by a feature display or promotion therefore the position of these displays and promotions are key to stimulating extra purchases, albeit even just to remind shoppers of something they had forgotten. But if you really want to ensure you get the attention of your shoppers then a little in store theatre goes a long way to capturing shoppers attention.
The proximity of these feature displays/promotions should ideally be located near the same category, if the category is located in a completely different part of the store the shopper may again forget to pick up that item from the shelf. Remember not all shoppers take the ‘up one isle down the next’ approach as many just go to where they think the items are located and leave if they cant find it. Figures suggest that 10% of shoppers leave a store even though had had planned to buy because they couldn’t find what they were looking for and up to 25% may switch brands if the item was out-of-stock.
No two categories are the same, shoppers make different buying decisions when shopping different categories
Each category will have its own dynamics a category like confectionary or soft drinks for example the so called ‘impulsive categories’ demand a wider range as the decision what to buy will mainly be made in store, shoppers want to see more excitement from these type of categories and more variety, so factors such as colour, signage and promotions are key to incremental sales. But other categories such as health & beauty that are very much pre-planned are more dictated by market range, an easy to follow layout that enables shoppers to quickly find what they had been looking for is important. After all the last thing you want to do is frustrate your shoppers!
With different factors affecting what influences shoppers to buy in different categories the location and size of each category must be carefully assessed before making that final decision on a store layout. It’s not just a simple case of positioning all your impulse categories in the front of a store or early in the flow as this could just drive your customers away, you must first understand the key shopping occasions and which ones are attracted by your format or which one you are trying to target?. By understanding these occasions you can then go about planning a solution for them. But it is possible to provide solutions to several different types of occasions at the same time.
A great example of this is when Tesco spotted an opportunity for providing a ‘food-to-go solution’ for the 3 main occasions, breakfast, lunchtime and evening dinners so they allocated some space at the front of the store to a new sub format called food to go, this not only appealed to attracting new consumers into the store but also appealed to existing customers looking for a solution ready to eat.
Top Tip; Understand what the main shopping occasions are and which ones you are trying to target, but remember consumers expect to satisfy their needs in different channels and it may be difficult to break into a new occasion if your business is not normally associated with that need.
And finally Measurement, the ability to be able to measure your layout will greatly enhance your profitability
Many retailers spend huge amounts on the look and feel of a store and fixtures & fittings but don’t then analyse the impact of putting this category here or that category there or even calculate if enough space is given to the different departments and categories in the first place! So much insight can be gained from analysing things like customer flow, hot & cold spots in the store, category space v share of sales etc. etc. You can enhance your profitability greatly by understanding where the best parts of the store is and what categories/promotions are attracting your customers. You should treat your store layout in the same way as you would an individual planogram,have the right range in the right place at the right time.