Customer In-Store Purchasing Behavior

Once consumers have selected the stores they will patronize they must then proceed to consummate the purchase. A number of factors influence consumers’ behavior within the store environment. In this article we shall examine some of the important variables affecting consumer shopping activities within stores.

Merchandising Techniques

Merchandising techniques have an important influence on consumer shopping behavior. This is particularly true for low involvement purchase decisions. For example, nearly two out of three supermarket purchase decisions are not specifically planned. Because there is generally little consideration of such purchases until the point of sale, merchandising techniques affecting the consumer in the store are often of great significance in securing purchase. A number of topics are discussed under the umbrella of merchandising techniques including store layout, displays, product shelving, pricing strategies, branding and promotional deals.

Store Layout and Traffic Patterns:

A store’s interior is organized in such a manner as to accomplish the firm’s merchandising strategy. Retailers sometimes find however that their layout and design approach is failing to achieve company objectives. In such cases a new store design may be necessary. A recent example of such a change is Kmart.

Kmart’s growth through expansion has diminished due to its saturation of stores in all of the top metropolitan areas of the United States. Consequently the chain is trying for more volume and more profitable volume per store from the cost conscious consumers attracted to Kmart. In order to get Kmart customers to spend more, the cavernous buildings of plain design filled with racks, bins, and metal shelves are changing to emphasize the merchandise at least as much as the price signs. The company plans to spend $2.5 billion to modernize 2200 stores with wider aisles, better lighting clearer signs and faster checkouts. Clothing and other goods are now of a higher quality and are being displayed in ways that are intended to stimulate increased impulse buying. In addition, rather than having shoppers being greeted by a popcorn stand as many K marts used to do, shoppers in the new format are met by cosmetics , jewelry and camera department. Besides cut rate auto filters and folding lawn chairs. Kmarts now handle Jaclyn Smith fashion clothing and Martha Stewart linens and towels.

Traffic pattern studies are very popular with retailers in order to determine where good or bad sales areas are within the store. Supermarkets conduct such research in order to determine optimum layout and placement of goods. Shopper activity is diagrammed on these layouts for both density and main direction of traffic for each aisle and for passing and buying rates within the aisles. These statistics show that customers shop a store in different ways. There are also differences in the times spent in the store among different patrons. Consequently depending on the type of shopper and the length of time spent shopping different expenditures result. Although use of passing and buying ratios can be helped in visualizing what consumers did, they fail to explain why these patterns exist. Thus, further research would need to be conducted by the retailer to understand why such passing and buying ratios exist and how a change in store layout could alter these patterns. Now stores are able to obtain customer movement information electronically. For example, Kmart has used a system of ceiling sensors in order to monitor how many people come and go, the direction that the individual shopper walks in, and how fast people are moving through the store or specific department.

Source: Consumer behavior