Don’t be afraid of grab and go shoppers

Having been on holiday recently, I was most annoyed by having to spend an hour queuing to check my bags in.  This ‘dead’ time resulted in me feeling frustrated and prevented me from indulging in some duty free shopping when I was airside.

The theory is simple – checking bags in is the essential part of the flying process – so make it as quick and efficient as possible. This will free up valuable time for the non-essential part of the experience – buying some perfume or alcohol in duty free. Here you can indulge the senses and make shoppers part with some cash!

Shopping a store or a category is fairly similar. For every shopping mission, there will be some “essential” tasks – like buying the milk or toilet roll. The easier it is for shoppers to locate and buy these items, the more time you will free up for them to go onto browse and buy “non-essential” items such as that nice bottle of wine or some chocolates – meaning greater overall spend for retailers and manufacturers.

If I could have a pound for every time I’ve heard a category manager declare that they want to remove grab and go behaviour within their category, I’d be fairly rich by now! But why is grab and go seen as such a negative behaviour? It exists because shoppers WANT to grab and go, just like I WANT to check my bags in as quickly as possible! Far from discouraging it, we should be doing everything in our power to facilitate this, based on the airport theory that the quicker I shop the planned/essential part of your category, the more likely I am to buy something incremental from the area of the fixture I hadn’t planned to shop.

We know that shoppers have sub conscious time allocations for shopping trips and even category shops. They don’t stand there with a stop watch, but based on the habitual nature of the task, they sub consciously know how long they will spend in the area – and will be unlikely to increase this regardless of what we do. This time spend of course varies from category to category. For example milk could be as little as 10 seconds, whereas wine will be more like two minutes.

The key is therefore looking at managing the tasks WITHIN that time frame, not extending it!

Take Soft Drinks.  A sub category like Colas would be akin to the grab and go behaviour we talk about – quick shopping, limited product interaction and a high conversion. Shoppers know the brand they need and want to pick it up as quickly as possible. They make limited decisions, usually based on promotions. We should facilitate this shopping style with clear merchandising and promotions. Avoiding lost sales is the key – so managing things like out of stocks will be critical.

However, within Adult Speciality Drinks we observe a longer dwell time, with more comparisons being made between products as shoppers make decisions. Here we can consider more theatre and information at shelf, as shoppers are more willing to spend time and make decisions.

By identifying the role of each sub category and creating solutions that match the shopping style for each role, it allows shoppers to fulfil their mission successfully and quickly, freeing up additional time to spend in the areas of the category where incremental/impulse purchasing is more likely.

In summary, we should not be afraid of grab and go behaviour – providing it is happening in areas where planning is high and involvement is limited. Like when you visit the airport for your holiday, shoppers will thank you for making it an efficient and pain free experience, rewarding you with their hard earned cash in other parts of the category or other parts of the store.

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