If you’re looking for ways to improve your store’s efficiency, consider shopping frequently at your competitors’ locations. It’s a tactic Walmart founder Sam Walton used—imitating what worked for other stores and learning from aspects that didn’t work as well. He once stated he was the biggest customer his chief competitor, Kmart, ever had.
One of Walton’s biggest decisions was whether to use departmental checkout or centralized registers. It was his observations of successful business practices in other retailers that led him to the centralized checkout model—a model that even high-dollar departments stores are moving toward. What Walton knew was that your store’s physical environment affects the ways in which shoppers interact with your merchandise, and it ultimately affects how much money customers spend.
Introducing the new OPEN Forum App
A daily digest designed to fit the needs and busy schedules of small business owners.
By looking to the competition, can help you build a better store that accounts both for the needs of your shoppers and that boosts your bottom line. What do other stores do that’s most effective? Let’s take a look.
Tricks of the Trade
First and foremost, there’s a natural inclination in terms of the order in which most consumers choose to physically shop at a store. They tend to move counterclockwise through the physical space, which means that any display just to the right of the door is premium real estate. Shoppers will pay attention to displays in this location, and the displays should be stocked with high-profit goods.
A quick note about shopping carts or baskets: provide them, and make them big! Size matters when it comes to shopping carts. When they’re full, the customer feels compelled to check out. If there’s still space, customers are more likely to continue to shop. Use the largest basket or cart that makes sense in terms of your store’s space and the products you sell.
Back to your physical space … a critical choice is where to put your staples. For grocery stores, that means the bread, milk and eggs. For liquor stores, that means the beer. For office supply stores, that’s printer paper and ink cartridges. As it turns out, there is one right answer to where you should place your essentials: as far from the door as possible. Your goal is to increase the time your customers spend in your store, and to push them to cover as much ground as you can. The more ground they cover and the more time they spend, the more money they spend.
The physical arrangement of your store needs to account for consumer psychology, and one of my favorite tactics is to appeal not just to the purchaser, but also to the influencer. In the grocery store, it’s frequently young children who work as influencers, so high-profit items with kid appeal need to go at eye level—not the parent’s eye level, but the kid’s eye level. Sometimes you face limitations on your eye-level space, and one of the best workarounds I’ve ever seen was a store that used dinosaur footprint decals to lead children through the store and arrive at a dino-themed display. Even though the products were displayed higher than most kids would notice, using the footprints created excitement and led to a profitable display.