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How businesses can change a browser into a buyer

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Many stores are guilty of focusing too much on current sales figures and too little on what could be improved. But there is a lot that can be said for looking at the browsers, the shoppers who nearly buy but don’t complete their purchases. Do you know how many missed sales opportunities you have every day? How many shoppers got to the verge of buying one of your products then stopped?

This is especially key if your store makes use of promotional areas and displays – these are a great way to introduce customers to a new product or reintroduce them to a product they don’t regularly buy. There are several factors you can take into account before you even set up your display.

Where should you put your display?

Location is the first and the most important element. Is your display in a high-traffic area? There’s no point in producing an attractive display with good deals if it’s hidden away at the back of the store. Supermarkets know this, using special “display gondola ends” on the end of virtually every aisle – an area which customers can’t help but notice.

Displays must also be convenient to be effective. If your display is after the tills, or requires extra effort on the part of the shopper, your otherwise tempting offer may be ignored.

Observe customer engagement

When you’ve placed your display, watch how your customers engage with it, visually and physically. How many shoppers look at the display and then look away, uninterested? Are there any who didn’t notice it in the first place? Short term memory only lasts for around 18 seconds – shoppers who walk past your display will forget it almost immediately.

Of those who looked, how many of them stopped to browse the products on offer? Did they glance at the products then move on or pick them up and examine them? And of these, how many finally bought the product?

Read more about the tricks that could see you retain and attract more customers in-store:

Analyse your results

There are many factors that prevent people from buying and most of these you can skew with a little work.

The most obvious issue was illustrated above – having the display in the wrong place at the wrong time will prevent customers from even having the chance to consider the promoted products. But there are several other ways consumers might engage with them without leading to a final sale.

Is there plenty of visual engagement with the product but nobody is picking it up to look closer? Your display could be more attractive than the objects contained within – is there a packaging or product issue you could solve? Or is the display inappropriate to the product? (e.g. a childlike, primary-coloured display with an adult product such as wine). If the product is edible, could you be doing more to increase engagement? Giving out free samples of a product can increase on-the-day sales by 177 per cent and long-term sales by 57 per cent.

Are they picking up the products and examining them but then rejecting them? There could be a problem with the texture of the packaging or, in the case of food, an allergen or unwanted ingredient (in these health-conscious times, a high sugar or fat content can switch off a consumer very quickly).

If you pay close attention to these elements, you can often figure out what it is that is preventing your customers from buying that specific promotional product. With a little analysis and a little trial and error you should be able to increase the number of shoppers who are buying, not just browsing.

One of the great buzzwords today in business is “customer engagement”, generally taken to mean how emotionally involved customers are with a product or brand. But by using the basics of neuroscience, companies can actually alter consumer behaviour, or at least how they feel during their customer journey.

Phillip Adcock is the founder and MD of the research agency Shopping Behaviour Xplained.

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