To Buy or Not to Buy – That is the Question!

Studies have shown that purchasers, spend an average of eleven minutes and twenty-seven seconds in the store and non-purchasers two minutes and thirty-six seconds.

It isn’t that the non-purchasers just cruise in and out of the store. In those two minutes and thirty-six seconds they typically go deep into the premises and examine an average of 3.42 items.

So why don’t they buy?

Often the problem is down to a lack of what I term ‘consumption fluency’. That is, the ease and speed with which items can be located, evaluated and purchased. I’ll deal with the concept of ‘fluency’ – with regard to both bricks and clicks – in subsequent blogs.  In summary:

1] Location – The harder it is to find the fixture holding the goods, the less chances of a purchase being made. Other location dysfluencies are caused by poor signage, congested aisles, good being moved to new locations, shopper disorientation

2] Evaluation – Shoppers should be encouraged to touch the merchandise, especially clothing. This is especially important given the fact that the number of purchases made is down significantly from 20 years ago.  Purchasers today look at 4.81 items per store visit but buy only 1.33 items. Most products are handled many times before someone buys them. The average lipstick case, for example, has been examined 6 to 8 times before it leaves the store, a compact disc 12 times, a greeting card 25 times.

3] Purchase – Inadequate service and display presentations that fail to suggest add-on purchases are typical culprits. A shopper’s decision whether or not to make a purchase is also deeply influenced by queues at the checkout.  Stores should look more closely at these areas and make changes that improve efficiency. A well-designed checkout reduces transaction time and employee fatigue.

Studies show that putting a staff member in front of the checkout to manage rush-hour traffic gives customers the perception of organising and reducing the waiting time. This hold’s true even when there is not actual difference in the time taken to process the lines.

As the retail market grows more cut-throat, retailers have come to realise that it’s all but impossible to increase the number of customers coming in, and have concentrated instead on getting the customers they do have to buy more.  If you can sell someone a pair of pants you should also be able to sell them a belt, or a pair of socks, or a pair of underpants, or even do what the Gap does so well, sell a complete outfit.

In my next Brain Sell Blog I will explain some of the ways this can be done.