Tricks of the trade

Tricks of the trade: How retailers engineer your consumer experience

Ever gone shopping and come home with more than you set out for? Retail stores, from supermarkets to clothing shops, are designed with one goal in mind: to get the consumer to spend more. Not only is every aspect of the consumer experience designed and created with a lot of careful thought and attention, much of it is thoroughly researched, tested, and optimized. Big brand retailers bring in consultants and even psychologists to sway customers into making certain decisions as soon as they walk through the doors.

If you’ve ever wondered why you buy, here are ten tricks of the retail trade that you may or may not be aware of:

    • Shops pump out canned smells to entice customers through the door, to influence them to buy certain products or simply to spend longer in store. Scent marketing triggers a reaction in consumers without them being aware of it. Our sense of smell is most directly connected to the part of the brain that processes emotions, and so causes us to immediately experience a feeling, rather than analyse information.
    • Shops place major brands in the middle of the aisle, so from any direction the customer has to walk the furthest to reach them. This is in order to maximise shopper and product contact time.
    • Our vain nature means mirrors slow us down. They are regularly used on shop fronts to slow down the human traffic, and ultimately get people through the door.
    • Shelf position is paramount. Top brands pay big bucks to have their products displayed at eye level and stores charge higher fees for these positions. However, when you go down a cereal aisle, take notice of where the most ‘kid friendly’ cereals are, lower down, right at children’s eye level.
    • In supermarkets, essentials like bread, milk and eggs are placed towards the back, the further you have to walk, the more likely it is you’ll make impulse buys.
    • Placing just a few items in a shopping trolley looks minimal and empty, and so a shopper is inclined to fill it up with more purchases. Supermarkets know this, and this is why the shopping trolley has increased in size by almost 30%.
    • Retail stores, especially trendy clothing stores, which want to attract a young clientele will play very loud music to ward off older people.
    • When you’re tired of shopping and find somewhere to sit down, it’s not out of the kindness of a retailer’s heart. Benches enable people to spend more time in a store, and ALL benches will be facing the merchandise.
    • When it comes to trying on clothes, men are the better bet for completing the sale, if he takes the time to try it on, there’s a 65% chance he’ll buy it, with women the figure drops to 25%. Men’s fitting rooms are also easier to find than women’s. If a man can’t find a fitting room, he’ll give up and leave, women don’t give up so easily and will search for a fitting room, even with armloads of clothes.
    • Shopping centres will not have many windows, they rely on artificial light and air conditioning. This is to remove the shopper from contact with the outside world and the constraints of time. This tactic is also employed by casinos, to get gamblers to spend more time and money in their establishment.

Without a doubt, not all retailers can afford a multi-disciplinary team of expert consultants to help create an unforgettable branded experience that maximizes sales. However, there are ways smaller retailers can get the most out of what is known about consumer psychology and why we buy; certain principles can still be put into practice through effective retail design. Store layout that is easy to navigate, and has a clear path to purchase is one such way businesses can help increase sales.

Quality design and shopfitting is essential and serves to reflect the brand, as well as allowing a retailer to stand apart from their competitors and achieve success. Jacobs Shopfitters, as industry leaders, have established a highly successful track record with a wide range of national and international retail clients. Visit to learn more about their world-class shopfitting solutions.

About the authorHM_Ian


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