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Why We Buy

When I owned the Doggie Diner, I discovered the most amazing thing. There was a particular display location in the shop, where no matter what was put there, it out sold everything else. Naturally, when doing our weekly rearranging, we would put the slow sellers out and see what happened. Invariably, they would be seen and sell.
In doing more research I was recommended a book by Chuck Robinson from Village Books. “Why We Buy” by Paco Underhill is a study of the science of shopping. This company actually goes out and watches customer behavior as though they were Jane Goodall living among the gorillas.
What they’ve found out can help any retail or even restaurant owner increase sales.
Here is a brief synopsis:

1) Where and how things are displayed will directly affect what sells and how much of it. Move things around and test it out.

2) People do not necessarily go into stores when they need something, nor do they necessarily buy what they went in for. Group similar things together. Place martini olives next to the vermouth, maybe some coasters and fancy glasses. The Greenhouse does a great job of this. The Hard Rock Café is a restaurant that makes 40% of its sales on retail merchandise. Don’t limit your concept of who you are.

3) Some displays and signs must be set up for those leaving the store, not just entering it. Walk around your sales space in all directions and see where your eyes go.

4) The longer a customer remains in the store, the more they buy. Create a comfortable space for buying. Mr. Underhill has a theory called the “butt brush” discomfort. If aisle are too small and people brush by each other, they will not stay in one place and shop.

5) Place items at the height convenient for the target customer. Put children’s items on bottom shelves, the elderly don’t like to bend or reach up high, at the Doggie Diner we put dog toys by the floor so dogs could pick out their own gifts!

6) The more employee-shopper contacts that take place, the greater the average sale. Teach your staff to greet customers with something more personal then “can I help you?”

7) If shoppers must wait too long in line, their perception of overall service plunges. Do not understaff to save money.

8) Know who your customers are so you can tailor your merchandise to them. Are they young, old, white, black, male, female, rich or not? If you don’t know, they will never quite understand what your store is trying to sell them.

9) People do not like to stop and shop right inside the front door. Move those sale tables further back so people have to walk to them and don’t block the entrance. (see “butt brush” theory #4)

10) People generally turn to the right. This is the spot that worked at The Doggie Diner. Observe where you naturally go when entering a store.

11) If you want women to shop longer, give the guys a chair. Especially in clothing stores.

12) Customers like: touching merchandise, looking in mirrors, discovering the
unexpected, talking about it, being recognized (preferably by name)
and finding bargains.

13) Customers hate: too many mirrors, waiting in lines, having to
ask dumb questions of the help, goods out of stock, obscure price
tags, intimidating or slow service.

I found this science fascinating, and I think you will too. There is much more in this book that I can’t cover here, so pick it up and revitalize your store this year!

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