Inside your customer’s shoes. Comfy, or …

Examining customer buying habits is as old as selling itself. In pre-historic times, Mr. Slate could have watched Fred Flintstone’s buying habits, invested in Bronto Burgers, and made a killing off Fred alone. All he needed to do was make them more accessible to Fred.

We have pretty much the same scenario today, both online and off.

Here’s an example that’s a little more up to date, and although it too is fictional, it’s based on something that happens every day in the marketplace.

When you go to the store, be it a grocery, hardware, or what- have- you store, do you ever pay any attention to where things are located, or how they’re displayed?

Probably not.

If you’re like most of us, you go to the store with a list, you find what you’re looking for, and you either head to the checkout, or you browse a little.

While you’re browsing you happen to see something that you weren’t really looking for, but when you spot it you think to yourself, “Self, I could use that,” or you think, “That’s a neat idea. I’ll get a couple of those, ” or even, “Mmmm, pistachio ice cream. Great idea!”


When you get to the checkout there are all sorts of items that the store management places there to tempt you into adding just one more item to your total: Juicy Fruit gum, juicy scandal magazines, juicy what Oprah did last week, etc..

Along the way, no one is standing over your shoulder selling you on features and benefits. You just see it, grab it, and pay for it.
There’s no pressure to buy…

Or is there?

Unless you’re extremely well disciplined, or you only take what you’re willing to part with, you’ve fallen for the highly successful “silent-salesman.”

There’s an entire industry behind that sort of scientific retailing.

Nowadays they can track receipts from hour to hour, day to day, week to week, month to month, and even project what they should make off that item today (as opposed to what they made off of it a year ago).

In tracking it short term, they may decide to move or copy a display item to some other area in the store to see if any significant changes in purchases occur.

Let’s use a simple can opener as an example. The store has a display in their kitchen utensils section, and they decide to copy the display to the canned goods section.

(I realize they probably already have one there, but this is just an example.)

They look at their receipts the next day and, Whammo! The numbers have jumped!

In this example it’s easy to figure out why thier numbers went up.
It’s a simple matter of looking at the primary product (in this case, canned goods), and placing yourself in your customer’s shoes, ask yourself what else they might need.

What else will they need, start to finish, to be able to enjoy their meal?

They’re obviously going to have to open that can, and if you don’t want them to have to search for an opener, provide it.

Instant add on!

There’s the key! There’s revenue inside your customers shoes, but you have to wear them once in awhile in order to find it.

Let’s take it one step further. Let’s say you decide to place two can-openers next to the canned goods. One with green handles, and one with white.

Which one sells better? Why does it sell better?

The answer to “which” can be found by looking at your daily receipts and comparing them to your previous purchase history .

Of course it will take a little more than that. If it was on a Tuesday, you’ll at least want to take a look back to the previous Tuesday to see if any other factors were involved causing the numbers to jump.

Did either Tuesday fall just after a holiday where folks had Monday off? Your testing should be done during typical traffic periods so that your numbers aren’t skewed.

This will help you to determine which one is actually earning, and which one is taking up valuable retail space and inventory dollars.
If it’s not selling, either get rid of it, put it somewhere else that it will, or make a better sign.

Elementary, my dearest Watson;-)

As to “why” it sells better, that cracks open a completely different area of marketing that deals with the psychology of why people buy. Though fascinating, as well as revealing, it would take up more space than I’ve allotted myself here.

To bring this idea of purchasing habits and product placement full circle, internet customers also have trackable and predictable habits for how, where, why, and when they buy.

Product placement is on an electronic page, and positioning can make a tremendous difference. Certain colors are proven to be better attention-getters and mood setters than others. The day of the week, and even the time of day can be studied and made predictable.

There are many varieties of software available that allow you to dissect your web site statistics. From manual coding and web stats studying, to those that do it all for you.

Laptop on a table with web site statistics on the screen

With a little study you’ll find that many of the buying traits of your online customers coincide with the buying habits of those out in the “real” world, which shouldn’t surprise us too much.

After all, they are the same people.

Now, if Mr. Slate would have put himself in Fred’s shoes, he’d have placed a Bronto Burger cart right outside the gates of the quarry, and sold such delicacies as the Boulder Burger, or Stone Fried Steaks with Gravel Gravy, he would have been able to capitalize on Fred’s purchasing habits.

Still! All he had to do was watch a couple episodes of the Flintstones, and he’d have seen exactly what sort of discipline Fred had when it came to impulse items… none!

You’ve got it a lot easier than Mr. Slate. You see, unlike Fred, your customers probably wear shoes;-)

If you’ll just remember to slip into them periodically, and do what you can to make buying from you as easy as possible, you won’t be leaving anything in those shoes that could be going into your register.

Now. Could you tell me what aisle the Pterodactyl sauce is on?

About the author
For more articles by Dave Franzwa, father of 3, mother to none, subscribe to Wordwrangler Press at:
Article is excerpted from Dave’s upcoming release of:
The Cat-A-List ~ Eye of the Storm ~