Should You Be Tricking Customers To Grow Your Retail Sales?

Bob Phibbs By

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I was waiting for the snow to clear, de-icing to commence and basically to get to Florida last fall when I picked up United's in-flight magazine Hemispheres.

It featured a profile on Brian Wansink's work to get kids to eat better in the school cafeteria. It was a fascinating study of how humans behave.

Yes, students are humans.

Wansink placed fruit in attractive bowls by the cash register, and create signs urging kids to eat it. The school lunch manager Charlene O’Connor was skeptical. “It sounded too easy,” she says. “If they weren’t going to take fruit in the middle of the cafeteria line, why would they take it at the end?”

Still, she was willing to give it a shot, and put Wansink’s suggestions into practice. Two months later, in March, she sold more than 1,000 pieces of fruit—four times what the school had sold the previous December."

Could understanding how human behavior helps students eat better help you sell more products in your retail store?

Absolutely.

It's about noticing how humans behave.

Contrast that curiosity in where we place the add-ons (the fruit) to a call I received a couple months ago from a reporter from a local station looking to feature my YouTube video on How Servers Can Get Better Tips.

I came to find out the reporter wanted me to talk about the secrets servers use to get you to tip them. "Not interested," I said and hung up.

How about the CNBC special on Supermarkets Inc purporting to show you how grocery stores "trick" you with canned soup, aisles divided in two and more?

Is it really trickery?

Or understanding human shopping behaviors? I believe the latter.

What's missing in retail, hospitality and food service businesses these days is that inquiry into the psychology of why people do what they do.

Sure mobile technology is out to make us into rats clicking our smartphones for the cheese (discount or reward points) but few are looking at simple reasons we buy.

The right combination of products...

The placement of ancillary items that makes a system for haircare, a system for putting down a floor, a dazzling diamond ensemble...

The curve of the display tables so there are no sharp edges...

The overhead lighting to make the merchandise pop...

The customer's path through the store that draws them deeper.

All of it entices or overwhelms customers.

That, in turn, keeps them from buying or invites them to buy it. That day. At full price. From you.

See also,[Pics] Steal These 9 Visual Merchandising and Store Ideas

In Sum

Displays need crafting to make it easy for customers to buy.

It's not trickery or some manipulative behavior if we understand what gets in the way of customers buying and what makes it easy.

Sometimes it's as simple as correct retail merchandising - observing where we place the merchandise and experimenting until we find just the right location.

Add to that a retail sales training program that can help employees build trust, not just vomit feature after feature onto a customer in hopes of wearing them down and you have a winning formula.

You want to stand out from the herd? Be curious why customers buy.

Even if they're students...

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