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Want to Sell More? Get Close to Customers - Literally

Want to Sell More? Get Close to Customers - Literally Credit: Customer shopping image via Shutterstock

Businesses can employ several strategies to convert shoppers from passive browsers into buyers, new research finds.

A new study uncovered why some shoppers, most of whom leave room for unplanned purchases in their mental budgets, are more likely than others to buy things they weren't expecting to once inside a store. The study appears in the August issue of the American Marketing Association's Journal of Marketing Research.

Based on pre-shopping surveys and in-store video tracking, researchers discovered that unplanned purchases tend to complement planned purchases. For example, a shopper who plans to buy cheese at the grocery store is more likely to consider an unplanned purchase of sour cream.

In addition, shoppers who look at coupons and in-store circulars, or who interact with the store staff when considering a product that's not on their shopping list are more likely to buy that product

One of the study's authors, professor Sam Hui of the NYU Stern School of Business, said the results provide a guide for retailers trying to boost sales.

"One tactic is to position categories with high-profit margins closer to the store entrance, so shoppers see the items before their budget for 'extras' is depleted," Hui said. "Another strategy for store managers is to distribute store circulars or coupons not only at the entrance, but also at different in-store locations. That way, shoppers are more likely to take advantage of these offers.

Since researchers also found that shoppers who stand closer to the shelf are more likely to make unplanned purchases, Hui said getting shoppers closer to the products is another good tactic. Stores can do that by offering product samples or using certain displays that encourage shoppers to stand physically closer to the shelves.

The study, "Deconstructing the 'First Moment of Trust': Understanding Unplanned Consideration and Purchase Conversation Using In-Store Tracking," was co-authored by the University of Pittsburgh's Jeffrey Inman, Drexel University's Yanliu Huang and the University of Texas at Austin's Jacob Suher.

Originally published on BusinessNewsDaily.

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance writer who has nearly 15 years experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.