Factors influencing the retail shopper

Retailer also needs to understand the competitors and how the customers perceive them. This would help the firm understand how they are perceived vis-à-vis the competition. It is also important to understand why consumers choose the competition over your product. This analysis may reveal some startling facts, and provide direction for future differentiation strategies. At the heart of every business strategy must be a deep understanding of consumers.

Why we buy ‘The Science of Shopping’ brings out some key facts about how consumers buy and the various influences on the same. The book brings out a key fact that most purchasing decisions are influenced and made on the shop floor itself. Highlighted are the facts that various aspects like sign ages, shelf position, display space and fixtures, all influence the shopper in his buying decision. The science of shopping is a hybrid discipline, part physical science and part social science and only part science at all, because it is also an art. It is practical field concerned wit providing information that can improve the retailer’ edge and reduce the odds of making a wrong decision. Much of the value of the science lies in the ability to go beyond collecting data and making educated guesses about what it means an how best to respond.

The behavior of retail shoppers is a subject of study across the world. The basic difference however, continues to be the maturity of markets and formats. While retail in the West has evolved unit terms of formats over the past hundred years, organized retail in India is still a new phenomenon. Shopping has in fact, been termed as a science.

In India, retailers and retail formats are still evolving. Ten years ago, if a consumer wanted to buy soap, his only option was the local bania or the Sahakari Bhandar or the fair price shops run by the government. Today, he can still buy the bar of soap from the same places, but also has an option of going to a Food World, Big Bazaar, Food Land, or and Apollo Pharmacy or from the neighborhood bania who has developed a swank new self service store. Where will he buy? What are the reasons for his choosing one store over the other?

Understanding the reasons for consumers choosing or patronizing a store is important for the retailer. This is true for retailer across the world. In India, while new formats keep merging, in many cases, the product offering are similar. Consider this: most of the department stores, which exist in India toady house a men’s wear, women’s wear, children’s and home section. The men’s wear section in most of the stores houses various national brands like Zodiac, Allen Solly, Louis Philippe, Van Heusen etc and some private label/s created by the store. At the same time all these brands have their own retails outlets. The range available at the stores is also similar. Why should customers visit a particular department store and not the company’s own retail outlet? An insight into what provokes a customer to visit and patronize a store helps the retailer in strategy formulation.

We now examine the factors which influence the customer’s decision making process.

1) Socio-cultural background of shopper
2) Travel time and distance
3) Location convenience
4) Range of merchandise
5) Stage of family life cycle of consumers.

Range of Merchandize:

The range of merchandize is perhaps the most important reason fir customers to patronize a particular outlet. The initial curiosity of the store may draw a consumer to a retail store, but converting him into a buyer and retaining him over a period of time is largely dependent on the quality and the range of merchandise offered by the store. If the merchandise is similar to that of another store or what is commonly available, the customer may not see any reasons why he should not switch stores. The range of merchandise offered plays an important role in case of categories like durables, books and music, apparel and other lifestyle products.

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