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How to strengthen sales by adapting to consumer habits

By Ted Lawrence

Change all of the store’s regular signage with new ones each month. It keeps it fresh and different.

A retailer has less than 10 seconds to make a first impression on a consumer. Within this time the consumer will start to form their opinion, not just about the store, but everything about the business. This is amplified more so if it is the consumer’s first time in the store.

During this period the consumer is trying to figure out if they are going to make a purchase. People need to feel comfortable within their surroundings first before they let their guard down; therefore, within the first 10 seconds, consumers will look for any negatives about the retailer before the switch flips in their brain to start looking at the positives. This author believes this process actually starts in the parking lot, long before they step foot in the store; however, this article focuses on what happens in the store.

For returning customers, the process is the same except they look for change. For instance, they want to be exposed to new and different products and services every time they shop in the store. Some of the world’s best retailers understand this, like grocery stores. End caps on the aisles change weekly, the front of the store changes every two weeks, and items go on and off sale twice a week. These retailers understand the consumer wants and needs fresh eye candy.

Change of pace

The consumer should never have a straight path to the checkout counter.

Today’s consumer wants the stores they shop in to change and look different each and every time. However, this does not mean the answer is to constantly change things around, as moving certain items can actually be detrimental to business. For instance, think about what would happen if a grocery store moved everything around one day. It would aggravate customers enough to give them a reason to shop somewhere else.


Therefore, play it safe. Customers do not mind so much when the produce section changes up, or end caps are altered because these areas follow a simple rule—20 per cent of the store represents 80 per cent of its sales. That said, a retailer will never change that 20 per cent around.

What are some things that can be done? First, it is important to be aware if consumers ‘shop’ the store. For instance, are they walking in and spending time looking around before they make their way to the counter? Or are they walking straight in and standing at the counter waiting for assistance? If the latter is the case, it may be time to rethink the store’s layout, style, and flow of the location.

Cut a path

The consumer should never have a straight path to the door, checkout counter, or water testing centre. There should be a series of roadblocks to inhibit their path. Roadblocks are displays with key products on them that not only obstruct the path to purchase, but also help turn off the autopilot in the consumer’s brain. Instead, these displays turn on the customer’s cognitive control functions—in essence, waking them up so they notice something new around them. Another example of autopilot is driving into to work and not remembering the drive. Everyone does it—especially when shopping; therefore, knowing the proper way to use roadblocks can be extremely important. To use them properly, it is important to understand how, when, and where to use them.

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