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Today’s market researchers are using a variety of techniques to explore market trends and customers. In-store observation is one way that has brought surprising results. Paco Underhill has devoted his life to exploring consumer behavior. He has gathered all his findings into a book called “Why We Buy. The Science of Shopping”, which analyzes thoroughly purchasing journeys. He shows clearly how and why there is much more than buyers’ beliefs and desires behind purchase decisions. Several in-store factors – how clients move, what they see or do not see, what they read, how they react to obstacles etc., are evaluated and explained. There are numerous details that people do not acknowledge, but they feel pleasant if all the elements are in place. Understanding these features helps to create a positive shopping experience and increase sales. (Underhill 2000: 5) Underhill’s findings have been used by numerous authors as a base for further investigation of in-store consumer behavior.

Store-keeper’s goal should be to create a pleasant atmosphere, where customers feel welcomed. It means understanding the person’s journey thoroughly. Often people go shopping for hours or they are with other family members. Either way, a seat would be highly appreciated, but too many stores are ignoring this fact. Underhill states that placing only one seat in a store would increase sales instantly in most of the stores. The chair is a way of saying “We care about you” and people buy from ones that care about them. (Underhill 2000: 92) Other methods for offering a joyful shopping experience would be to simply pay as much attention to customers as possible. This attitude helps to prolong the customer’s stay in the store. A positive correlation between time spent in the store and purchase likelihood has been noticed. (Ebster 2011: 117; Quelch & Cannon-Bonventre 1983: 20; Underhill 2000: 113)

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The customer needs to have both hands free to be able to try the products. Stores should think of where visitors could place their jackets, bags, purchases, etc. Consumers entering a cosmetics store do not think they are going to buy lots of items, therefore they do not feel the need for a shopping basket. At the moment, when the customer has already found items to buy, a store clerk should offer a basket. People appreciate the fact that someone has noticed them and wants to help. As baskets are often overlooked, it would be useful to scatter them throughout the store instead of placing them at the entrance. It has been noticed that usage of the basket also increases the number of purchased items. (Ebster 2011: 62; Underhill 2000: 54)

The reason behind people not noticing shopping baskets or any other items or products at the entrance is the so-called “twilight zone”. It is right beyond the entrance, where people are adjusting to the environment, sounds, lighting, colors, signs, etc. The area should be used to attract customers and not for important information or high-margin products. Women like to first check their look before starting to search for products, therefore there should be mirrors close to the entrance. The number of mirrors should be even greater in cosmetics and body care stores. Reflective surfaces and soft floors (covered with carpets) are generally good ways of slowing people down and making them notice products. (Ebster 2011: 60; Underhill 2000: 42)

As most visitors to beauty stores are women, it should be considered that women feel uncomfortable in narrow aisles, where there is not enough space for passing other people or reading about the products. It is considered so unpleasant that the journey might be canceled, and the person leaves the store. Women like to familiarize themselves with the product before the purchase – 63% of the buyers read at least one label. There should be enough space between aisles for passing others, moving with a pram, or reading. It is also beneficial to place most needed products in the back of the store as that requires the customers to pass the store twice, which may lead to noticing other products. Another way of inviting people to move towards the back of the store is to design the back wall effectively; it could be done graphically or with videos. (Davies & Tilley 2004: 10-13; Underhill 2000: 12)

Customers’ movement in the store is generally the same – people tend to head rightward and move counterclockwise while looking in front of them. Therefore, the end-of-aisle layout is most profitable as it is easily noticed. Natural beauty stores have fewer products than supermarkets and they could try out a highly profitable layout called “chevroning”, where shelves are positioned at a 45° angle to attract more buyers. It takes more store place, but the products are noticed easily, and it works especially well for cosmetics, where consumers want to read about the items. Since people rarely stop in front of signs or display windows, the same rule applies – to allow people to notice them, everything should be placed under an angle and have enough lighting. Moreover, signs and informative texts should not be just placed out, but the location, size, height, etc. needs to be calculated from the consumer’s viewpoint. Unless the product is particularly searched for, people see only things that are above knee level, but not much higher from eye level. Easy to change, but few store managers know how to do so. (Davies & Tilley 2004: 10-13; Underhill 2000: 82)

Samples are essential in cosmetics and body care stores. People are very sensitive to aromas and women can be especially picky towards the texture and colors of cosmetics. It should be normal to be able to try the product before purchase, even better if some privacy can be felt while trying. Almost all impulsive purchases are the resulresultouching, feeling, tasting, smelling, and hearing. Still, some companies find it too costly to provide samples. That leads to a terminated purchase journey or trial of the products that are for sale (which no one wants to buy after seeing that it has been already opened). Trying often leads to purchase and more innovative producers should offer small sample sets for sale so that people can try the products at home as well. (Underhill 2000: 95)

The body care industry is mostly focused on women and their needs. While men would be interested as well, their needs and behavior tend to be ignored. The product lines for men are growing, but these are usually placed in an entirely feminine atmosphere, between lipsticks and mascaras. If we know something about men’s behavior in the stores, it is that they like to go straight to the product and buy it. They do not want to scan through the whole store of women’s products. Therefore, there is a demand for men’s body care products, but there should be a separated area for these products. (Underhill 2000: 119)

Observations over shelf displays have shown that disorganized shelves for ingestible products create disgust among customers and may decrease sales. It does not apply to non-ingestible products, where disorganized shelves with a limited quantity of products (especially with unfamiliar brands) can create even more interest and increase sales. (Castro, Morales & Nowlis 2013: 118-133; Davies & Tilley 2004: 10-13)

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