Modes of Shopping Behaviour

Modes of Shopping Behaviour
22 februarja, 2021 Omnibus

(* zaradi specifične teme sem članek izvirno napisal in tukaj objavil v angleščini – v primeru vaših vprašanj na to temo smo z veseljem na voljo v slovenščini; ne spreglejte tudi brezplačnega pdf-ja na to temo v slovenščini)

Retail shopping missions are frames of customers’ behaviour in the store. They provide the main shopping goal and determine the decisions we make.

Some regular shopping mission statements:

“Quick meal”

“Something for family dinner”

»Fill up my fridge and wardrobes«

“Indulge myself”

“Guests are almost knocking!”

Those statements bring customers into the stores and strongly determine how the shoppers buy individual categories.

Directing the flow of customers regarding different shopping missions is an essential part of store formatting.


During the shopping missions, though we are generally pursuing our goals, we enter different modes. Each mode defines particular expectations and influences attention.

The highway mode

Shoppers are strictly focused on finding the products from the shopping list that might be as well in an unwritten form. A to B to C. All outside stimuli generally means only passing disturbance. Auto-pilot mode.

The traffic jam mode

Possibly waiting in a queue before the checkout or service line. Each second usually seems too long, over due.Though, under the certain threshold a shopper is open for a thing or two. Within limits. With passing minutes, seconds agitation increases. Up to a point of general dissatisfaction. Handle with care!

The discovery mode

Attention spans are wider. Visitors ara open for new proposals, feel like browsing around, suddenly checking new products.

The story mode

The cellar with wine, cheese, sausages, winemaker stories – smells, tastes, flavour, words, colours, mix of our primary senses, bring experience to life.

The above names were coined by ourselves while preparing insights based on observations and measurements provided by Omnibus shopping traffic research. For 14 days, our team RFID measured movements of all shopping carts in the supermarket in Maribor (Slovenia). The data was gathered and statistically analysed first through dashboard and then via data queries. Further we added observations material.

Example: a complete particular shopping path as shown on dashboard (c) Omnibus, 2018-2020


On some store visits customers operate just in one mode. Other shopping trip might blend all the modes together.

Some stores help us switch the modes. And some stores don’t.

Stores that manage to set their customers in different modes have a huge advantage over those that don’t.

Once again, let’s not overlook the strategy of the discounters like Hofer / Aldi and Lidl. They’re the kings of the no-frills, high-speed, highway mode, right? Yes, at every touchpoint they show us how valuable our time is to them!

But another aspect is just as crucial!

Have you ever noticed what happens in the central part of Hofer / Aldi / Lidl? Yes, where the wire containers piled high with items called special buys, like cooking utensils or televisions or gym equipment, is located?

People suddenly stop! More than that: they voluntarily, of own free will, spend additional time and carelessly browse through the special offer.

And now compare this behaviour to other grocery stores – when was the last time (save form the fruit & vegetable section) you’ve seen such a devotion for browsing in regular supermarkets? Probably, you’ll have to think hard.

Yes, in Hofer and Lidl, at certain points people stop. They take time. They browse. They engage. They share attention. Voluntarily. That’s a successful retailing!


Those retailers that help customers in switching the modes voluntarily, are more successful than those that don’t.

As customers we expect that our basic highway mode will run smoothly, without friction. But that’s just the first part of our expectations. We are also more eager to return to the stores that bring us into discovery or story mode. That makes us happy, that makes our endorphins jump.

Understanding and respecting those modes is essential for a successful store format.

A further view on the topic, especially about dangers of the auto-pilot trap, is provided in our special based on shopping path research.

Here are some questions that could help retailers to trim & improve performance of their store layouts:

  • What shopping missions are crucial for succes of your store format?
  • How do you manage the 4 main modes within your format?
  • Is your store offering all the modes? Can you mark the discovery zones on a store layout?
  • Do you pay enough attention on providing highway mode in an intuitive, time-friendly manner?
  • Is there a particular traffic jam issue that could significantly increase your customer satisfaction level?
  • How about the story mode – do you include it?

If you’d like to do the tasks with us, don’t overlook our #levers for remarkable store spaces (with red lining). This is a product that combines insights from unique shopping traffic research and knowledge gathered from our long-time interest in anthropology of customer behaviour. #levers help retailers to reorganize the store layouts for better performance and tight connection to customer flow!

For manufacturers:

  • Do you know how your brand, product performs in each mode? Leaving your shelf efforts mainly to auto-pilot mode might mean troubles not only for retailer but also for you. Especially, when you know that interested customers on average choose between 180 products in 27 seconds (see our shopping path research).
  • If you have a wide portfolio of products: why wouldn’t you provide a retailer with valuable insights on shopping missions shown through the lens of your products? Win – Win?

Free PDF #levers with info and case description is available (only in Slovenian, soon to be translated). Just send us an e-mail or fill the contact form!


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