Shopper Psychology: Understanding the Why Behind Merchandising Best Practices

Mar 15, 2017 — Christopher Krywulak
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The best merchandising practices are often rooted in behavioral science. Many studies have shown that customers will react in expected ways to certain in-store triggers, including colors, store layouts, and video displays.

While it's no secret that psychology is an important aspect of visual merchandising, some tips and tricks are less obvious than others. Here are some crucial ways that merchandising can affect customers on a psychological level.

First impressions matter to customers

For most customers shopping is largely done on autopilot. Studies have shown that the average shopper only spends 15 seconds at a given shelf, and they notice less than 40 percent of the products on display. Taking into this account, visual merchandisers should set up their stores to make memorable first impressions.

Start with your best foot forward and stock your front-of-store displays with new merchandise and best sellers. Pay attention to colors and textures too, as these can have a measurable impact on customer perception or emotional responses. The time of day or number of customers in your store can also affect customers' responses to your merchandise. As you learn more about your consumers you can adjust your digital signage strategy to display varying content throughout the day according to these factors.

Customers don’t want to waste time

Now more than ever, customers are looking to save time while they shop both online and in physical stores. Ordering products online cuts out the commute, while people who shop in-store are increasingly looking to pick up specific items as efficiently as possible.

Streamline in-store visits with display signage and product information that makes it easy for customers to find what they need. Research indicates that customers generally look from left to right when they first enter a store, and then walk counter-clockwise, so plan your layout accordingly and place signs at eye-level.

That being said, it is important to strike a balance between streamlining the in-store shopping experience and encouraging consumers to browse and purchase more items. Using signage and data to personalize the shopping experience can help even the speediest of shoppers feel a positive connection with your brand, encouraging them to make more purchases and return in the future.

Curation and visual hierarchies can empower customers

Customers who find themselves overwhelmed by too many choices can benefit from careful curation and visual cues that highlight featured products. You can show your customers which items to focus on by using lighting techniques, shelving heights, and principles of design like the Rule of Three.

By decluttering your store, customers will be able to pay closer attention to the items on display. And with tools like Endless Aisle, you can still showcase your entire product line digitally, so that customers can find the exact model they’re looking for even if it's not physically on site.

Tapping into more senses enhances the in-store experience

If your merchandising efforts are only visually appealing, you are limiting your opportunities to engage with your customers’ other senses. Devices like tablets encourage touch, while video ads on screens can encourage shoppers to stop and listen. On a more visceral level, studies have shown that people tend to prefer environments without angles and sharp edges. This can be achieved with open shelving and curved-edge display tables, which encourage customers to pick up and hold products.

As new digital technologies continue to change merchandising tactics, we have to continuously predict and learn from consumer behavior. Consider these merchandising best practices as you plan out your omnichannel strategy.

To keep up with changing shopper preferences, and a growing number of channels, retailers must constantly pivot their approach. Download Personalizing Every Customer’s Path To Purchase and learn how to adjust to consumer preferences in real time, and deliver 1:1 experiences that will delight every shopper during every shopping journey.

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Photo: Unsplash

Topics: Wireless Trends, Retail Marketing

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