Look at the picture below. Recognise it?
Yes that’s right it’s the M&S in Bangor, now what’s wrong with it?
The second question is a lot harder to answer. In fact, to you and I there is nothing wrong with this image. The sign is where it should be, the stock looks fine and the baskets are in their usual place. And BINGO, you’ve accidentally stumbled upon the problem – the baskets are in their usual place.
What you are looking at is known as the ‘transition zone’ or ‘landing zone’ (Underhill, 2000). This is the area where the shopper first enters the store and then adjusts to their surroundings – if it’s raining outside, this is the area where they remove their coat or if it’s sunny outside, this is the area where they remove their sunglasses. This is also the area where people tend not to pay much attention. BUT despite this, it is the area where stores always put their baskets.
In 2000, a book was written by Paco Underhill looking specifically at the science of shopping. In his research for the book Underhill found that fewer than 10 percent of customers used baskets when they were positioned by the door of a store. Other research has shown that people‘s purchases increase if they have a basket (Desai and Talukdar, 2003). Therefore, if less that 10 percent of shoppers are using them, this is a large problem for shops.
So how do you solve the problem?
Simple – move the baskets!
Let’s use the example of a book shop.
People who go to book shops rarely take a large shopping list with them. They usually go with just one book they want to buy in mind. But bookshops are attractive places, you can browse and flick through fascinating books on all sorts of subjects and nowadays you can even enjoy a coffee while you do it.
Quite often people will find more books that they want to buy and they will stack them up in their arms. But books are often big and uncomfortable so even if they find another book they really want to buy (perhaps a consumer psychology one!) they won’t pick it up because they physically don’t have room in their crowded arms.
What do they need? That’s right, they need a basket. Paco Underhill argues that baskets should be positioned right through the store encouraging people to make impulse purchases. He also found that at a store in America a member of staff went round the shop offering baskets to the customers who didn’t already have one. Because of this simple act, basket use rose instantly and unsurprisingly so did the size of the average sale.
Paco also argues that in stores like bookshops where the products for sale are heavy, a different basket should be used.
The big plastic ones you are given can really make your arm ache if you pile them up with a few textbooks so Underhill suggests that over-shoulder canvas bags should be used instead. This stops people not buying more things they want, because they physically can’t carry them anymore.
This idea shows that it just takes a little creative thinking to make a huge difference to a company’s profits. This idea is also great because it is totally accessible for small and medium sized enterprises as the whole concept is inexpensive – in fact canvas bags are cheaper for a store to get hold of than the plastic ones. So if you ever get the chance to run a store, think twice about where your baskets are located.
Thanks for reading.