Open wallets

November 1, 2009 at 1:48 am 3 comments

It’s been an interesting couple of weeks. The highlight was being invited to blog and Twitter about the Choice Shonky awards. I’ve become a real fan of Twitter actually – despite earlier doubts. I much prefer it to Facebook, which I don’t use really (am I the only person on the planet who doesn’t use FB??). I prefer the live conversation going on in the Twittersphere and the connections you can make. If you missed my blog post about the Choice lab tour and the Twitter stream, go here and here.

And speaking of the connections one can make on Twitter, I’ve connected with some really interesting people. I’ve even connected with a KM colleague in Melbourne, who I’ve never met and just put him in touch with a company in Melbourne who contacted me about some consulting work in KM. And one of my Twitter connections is Dr Stephen Saunders who is @shoppologist

Regular readers know I don’t pimp products on this blog but I will mention stuff I think is useful or would like you to know about (and no, I don’t get paid). So to today’s post. Stephen is an expert in consumer behaviour and has over 25 years’ experience with retail and marketing organisations.  Pause: I had to chuckle a bit – thinking of how Stephen would scratch his head in puzzlement if he ever followed me on one of my shopping “kamikaze raids”. Would his years of experience equip him to cope with me, in full flight, at the lip gloss counter??!!

I digress. Stephen has put his expertise to great use and produced a book that is a gem for both retailers and consumers. It’s amazing to what extent psychology is used to attract shoppers and try to keep them in the store. I love looking at retail shop windows – particularly quirky or brightly coloured displays. One of my favs is L’Occitane, who have the kind of shop display that just tempts you to wander in. You expect to smell the lavender of Provence as you enter the shop.

Another shop window you might find me in front of (I try not to go in though) is Darrel Lea, which is an Australian family-owned confectionery company in business since 1927. They have consistently colourful and intriguing window and in-store displays like this:

But there are things that will propel me out of a shop fast:

  • cheap, tacky, nasty looking displays with confusing signs screaming 50% off here, 30% off there. Like this:

  • shops that look cluttered or the entrance is festooned with bins of 50% items, like this:

  • harsh lighting that makes you wish you’d brought your sunglasses along, like this:

  • dead boring shop front windows that scream beige-ness, like this:

So what does Stephen have to say in his fab e-book? Well, can’t give too much away – you can buy it here. But some tidbits for you:

  • “Shoppers like to belong to groups called shopping ‘tribes’ – any good tribe has a badge or insignia. This is also why a good shopping bag is important”. (Mmmmm…never thought of it this way. Must admit I like my Body Shop and L’Occitane bags, which identifies me as belonging to the environmentally sensitive shopping tribe I guess);
  • don’t put stock outside the store – destroys sight lines, adds clutter, conveys ‘discount’ image”. (Totally agree: I hate those discount shopping bins outside a shop. I always feel like I’m rummaging through reject stuff, stuff other people have not wished to purchase. It’s like you’re getting palmed off with second best-crap);
  • “Shoppers want to identify with their stores, they want to know what a store stands for. Especially important for browsers.” (Yep: personally I think this is something a lot of retailers just don’t get. This is why I like, for example, L’Occitane. The “story” is obvious and told via the window and shop displays – authentic and natural products);
  • “There should be some ‘mystery’ about the layout – areas that look interesting from the front of the store”;
  • “Don’t let your merchandising disrupt navigation sight lines”.

There’s a heap of practical advice and tons of photos to illustrate Stephen’s points.  I learnt some valuable lessons about the psychology used to tempt shoppers. Check out the e-book and also Stephen’s blog, which I particularly like because he always seems to be cruising around shops taking photos (great job!). I have shamelessly ganked photos from his blog for this post.

Meanwhile, Stephen here’s a story for you. The other day, I was at Priceline in Toronto NSW. I know Priceline well in Sydney and quite like that shop as there is plenty of room to browse and you don’t get swooped on by the dolly birds asking “can I help you or are you just happy browsing?” (really hate this: if I need help I’ll ask thanks). So I walk into this Priceline and at the very door to the shop the dolly bird asks the question. I flee to an aisle and settle in for some lipgloss browsing, only to be aware of the dolly bird lurking pretty close behind me.  She asked (again) THE question to which I replied “look, I’m just browsing thx”. She keeps lurking in the aisle, not far away. My patience melted and I asked her why she was standing there. Her response was “I have to stay in this aisle”. Okay, maybe this is because (a) the retailer is worried about shoplifting; or (b) this is standard practice. Whichever, it’s ANNOYING to have someone so blatantly lurking nearby.

So if it’s not in your e-book Stephen, please add “Note to retailers: do not ruffle the feathers of your customers by irritating them with obvious security measures. This signals lack of trust to your customer”.

Needless to say, I gave up browsing and left Priceline in a hissy fit sans lipgloss.


Entry filed under: Australia, Useful resources. Tags: , , , , , .

What does “success” mean to you? The library as conversation

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. georgiaclaire  |  November 1, 2009 at 6:58 am

    Er. Do you by any chance live near Eastgardens? 😀

  • 2. creativespark  |  November 1, 2009 at 8:17 am

    Lovely bunch of photos… I love how beige the beigeness looks and how bright the brightness one is. =p

    You’d hate shopping in much of Asia… Indonesian dollies are particularly sticky, Singapore ones are hit or miss (either they’re two inches away from you or you have to hail them with a loudhailer to get any attention) and in a Malaysian department store I just couldn’t bring myself to buy underwear because I had not one but 3 of them helpfully hovering a few feet away.

    Restaurant wait-staff bug me in the same way. I have to hold back from saying “look, if your job is so boring that you have to stand around listening to my conversation, then get another job!”

    =) M

  • 3. thinkingshift  |  November 1, 2009 at 8:27 am

    Marc, I’ve run the gauntlet of shopping in Asia. As you can imagine, I have regular hissy fits and lost my cool in Bangkok!
    Georgiaclare: not near Eastgardens but I suspect anywhere you go in Sydney, it’s all looking the same.


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