Bringing Customers In: Retail Layout Secrets from the Big Box Stores - Part 1: The Science Behind Shopping

by Barbara van Look, Marketing Content Development Group, Exclusively for Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®

There is a science to shopping--at least on the side of the big box stores. They hire professional researchers to evaluate how customers shop, what draws them in to shop and how they act, and react, in various parts of the store. Retail design professionals such as consultant Andrew Andoniadis analyze retail spaces and then help stores create a space that encourages customers to stop, shop and spend.

Now, so can you.

Part One: The Science Behind Shopping


When you walk into a store, you will find tempting new products, hot and trendy items and expensive items to the right. That's because researchers have discovered that most people turn right when they enter a store and THAT is because most people are right-handed, points out Paco Underhill, author of Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping. That makes this selection of products the first items a shopper will pick up, when they have all their budget ahead of them, and are the most difficult items to put back if shopper's remorse sets in.

The goal of any sales space is to turn a potential customer into a purchasing customer. The key to creating a purchasing customer is to make your potential customers slow down, enjoy looking, crave your products and feel comfortable buying. Underhill and Andoniadis have some common suggestions that help shopping spaces both large and small sell their products:
  • Linger a little longer...
    Get customers to linger in your booth. The more time they spend in your space, the more likely they are to find something they want to take home with them. This is all influenced by booth layout and the way you, as the designer and booth owner, act toward them.
  • Impulse buys and incremental sales
    Impulse buys are items that the customer finds easy to pick up and buy. These are usually economical small pieces that might go with or increase the utility of the purchase they're making. Incremental sales are additional items that the customer hadn't originally planned to purchase, but chose to after seeing the rest of your designs.
  • Seeing into and moving through a booth
    The outside tables of a booth get a vast majority of the shopping activity. Drawing customers inside the booth space allows them to see the entire range of your work and gives them a chance to connect with you, the designer-artist. Creating that connection encourages customer comfort--and encourages customer spending.
At bazaars and crafts fairs, most shoppers are moving through the booths as quickly as they can. They want to see everything before they run out of energy, time or money. Break through that single-minded focus by making your booth a comfortable and attractive place they want to linger in. When you've done that, your creations can change a potential customer into a purchasing customer.

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