27 Secs But – Oh, So Many – Options

27 Secs But – Oh, So Many – Options
July 16, 2020 Omnibus

Last year the Omnibus team has done the unique research. By using RFID technology we – anonymously, of course! – tracked the shopping carts and their movement around the supermarket store. We measured shopping times, discovered patterns of shopping missions (to go, quick meal, something for dinner, destination item …), found out the hot & cold spots in the stores, studied the queues and also the interest for specific displays and more and more.

Shopping paths research #Sources

In the bulk of the gathered insights, one somehow stuck in my mind.

27 seconds is the time that shoppers take for stopping & choosing & taking & putting a particular packaged item into a shopping cart. As the average aisle was 6-meter long and encased by shelves from both sides that means 180 different options to choose from.

27 seconds for choosing between 180 options? (Before you discard the idea a little secret: it’s actually 4 seconds if we’d be counting all of the shoppers that passed by. But we concentrated only on those shoppers interested enough to actually stop in the category).

So, 27 seconds to choose between 180 options? Less than 0.15 seconds for considering one option = one unique packaged product. Is that really possible?

It is. As the shoppers use the trick of elimination. Reducing the options thus far that nearly all the options are deemed irrelevant to them. That includes the signage, the wobblers, the brands, the logos & even all the elements of carefully prepared planograms.

Auto-piloting is a ruling type of shopper behavior in-between shelves with packaged goods.

Yes, that’s bad news for the suppliers and brick and mortar retailers. Especially for

  1. Suppliers offering products in categories where the competitive products have established a habitual link with consumers -> being one of the 179 options that doesn’t get into consideration within an aisle sucks!
  2. For all retailers where auto-piloting represents the main pattern of the shopping behaviour -> mainly the ones we call “traditional grocery retailers” as the discounters like Hofer and Lidl have been more flexible in arranging seasonal in & out products.

At the retailer’s side of the view, such auto-pilot buying means almost completely uninvolved shoppers. No emotional attachment towards the brand or store they visit. Just convenience. Until someone challenges that convenience. Then the alternatives will easily sweep the shoppers away – and the competition actually doesn’t mean only hovering drones with a personalized offer. It might be much simpler. See the image below. Store A is conveniently located for Shopper A. Location – that magical concept in retail – works for store A. But there is a limit. And due to the emotional unattachment of Shopper A, the threshold for changing the store is very low. Pretty soon Shopper A is passing by Store A only to visit Store B. When that happens Store A is doomed. In our region we’ve seen that mechanics at work when old furniture stores (Store A) with huge halls of similar products have been easily neglected immediately when Ikea stores (Store B) came at reach. Even when Store B was 200 km further from Store A.

Auto-piloting means low involvement

But – wait – with all the changed expectations there’s also good news for the brick & mortar retailers. The 1980s and 1990s are finally over. Even in retail.

We, the Omnibus team – a group of retail consultants, designers, architects, researchers & data analysts – are strongly convinced that now is a great time for a change, for different kinds of stores. It’s time to make an impact with pleasant environments, show respect to the customers, remove the overabundant clutter, remove the advertising signs where advertising signs are the norm, use the flowers where others use concrete, give the architects credits again & why not provide little Christmas shopping experiences to the time-pressed, but also ecologically aware shoppers each and every day.

A detail from on-going project (c) Omnibus

We’re sure that retailers and suppliers who dare will be rewarded with visits & engagement. And then people will come back. And back. Not only that – people will by-pass the boring competitors just to get to the store that provides voluntary involvement again.

We believe there is a little child within every shopper. Just waiting to be awakened. Once again.


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