Meet the queen of run-in run-out shoppers. That would be me. I would sooner make a second stop down the street to pick up a gallon of milk as to walk a mile inside a superstore to get milk when I went in to buy dog biscuits at the opposite end of the store.
Apparently I’m not alone. In a study, TNS Retail Forward learned that female shoppers aren’t nuts about crossing aisles into various departments. And when they do venture across the aisle, these same shoppers say they don’t like what they find, thus they are less likely to crisscross the aisles in the future.
The survey found that, on average, female shoppers visit only 3.3 departments at Wal-Mart Supercenters and 2.7 departments at SuperTarget. They don’t even cross aisles that often at Kohl’s and JC Penney.
The addition of department-store-like merchandising motivates customers to cross aisles just as obstacles put in place by store management cause shoppers to stay in one department rather than crossing to another.
While this can’t be as big a problem in small stores, owners of smaller stores might learn something about getting customers to linger by noting the following TNS Retail Forward suggestions as to how to encourage big-store customers to cross aisles:
- Improve inventory management, especially for advertised items. (If you advertise it, make sure you have enough to go around.)
- Ensure that online inventory information reflects reality. (Don’t put it on your Web site if your customer won’t find it in your store.)
- Delight customers when they do cross the aisle. (Or as one retail store designer told me: Keep creating a sense of discovery in your store.)
- Support the offer with attractive visual merchandising and promotions. (Let’s face it, boring this or that never made anybody buy anything.)
- Reduce the barriers and improve the view. (Make it easy for the shopper.)
TNS Retail Forward is a consulting and market research firm