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Why we buy? December 13, 2009

Posted by raimundosilvam in Why We Buy.
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This is a great book. A must read for someone who wants to pursue a career in retail, and a fun reading for anybody else.

This is not a business reading. It is fun and very insightful about the way we do shopping. As customers we never think of the reason why of things inside a store. However, the next time you go to a store, I suggest you to take a moment to think about all the decisions you would have to make if you ran that business. Everything has been studied many different times and there is a reason for the location of the store, the width of the idles, the height of the shelves, the layout of the store, the color of things, the music it plays, the way personnel dress, everything. It has all being carefully planed to improve the customer shopping experience, and ultimately to maximize profits.

The good news is that you can always leverage on the experience of somebody else. There is so much that has already been done that you can use for your benefit. If you ever have to take decisions about a store I do suggest you to get back to this book since what seems to be pretty easy decision, is actually a Science. “The Science of Shopping” Do not improvise on this. Do it good.


The Power of Three December 8, 2009

Posted by Daniel Perl in Why We Buy.
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I greatly enjoyed Paco Underhill’s Why We Shop and jotted down a ton of notes as I read through it. After I was done and went to synthesize what I read, I was drawn to something the author wrote at the end of book — that his life’s work of observing customer buying habits and making recommendations wasn’t always linear or straightforward, but was a blend of physical science, social science and art. I found this trinity to be a useful way of approaching a number of problems and something I’ve thought about since then.

For Underhill, the Physical Science of shopping concerned the type of work that we would encouter in a basic MBA Operations class: service/handle times, queueing theory, etc.  This work was quite tangible and generally easy to understand. Underhill also drew on social science disciplines such as psychology, anthropology and sociology as he sought to climb into the mind of customers and understand why they did what they did. Finally, he emphasized that there was a true art to what he did. At the end of the day, not everything could be quantified, easily understood or duplicated — it took singular creativity and touch.

Male Versus Female Shoppers December 8, 2009

Posted by Emily Lin in Why We Buy.
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The most interesting section of the book “Why We Buy” is the insights of male versus female shoppers. I can’t stop laughing upon reading the wisdom such as “male shoppers only buy suits and shoes, while female shoppers buy everything else.” For a long time I’ve been wondering why I’d rather go shopping by myself than dragging my boyfriend with me, and why my mom always shops for the whole house while my dad, who almost never shops for himself, gets excited about going to shop for certain groceries for us. Now I understand the reasons.

“Males just want places that allow them to find what they need with a minimum of looking and then get out fast.” In one study of buying apparels, 65 percent of male shoppers who tried something on actually bought it (as opposed to only 25 percent of female shoppers did), and the only reason why they didn’t end up buying it was the size. Speaking of size, most male shoppers don’t know what sizes of underwear they are in, let alone their partner’s sizes. To assist male shoppers, retails stores should put super simple size charts, closer fitting rooms, and super friendly / approachable / spontaneous sales clerks. In fact, male shoppers are much less price sensitive. Dads are bad in saying no to their kids while shopping, because one of the roles of Daddy is the provider. Male shoppers usually enjoy the thrill of paying for women or children, even if they hate the experience of shopping.

Women take pride in shopping intelligently, efficiently and effectively. As a typical female shopper, I totally agree with the insight to female shoppers: “…shopping is a transforming experience, a method of becoming a newer, perhaps even slightly improved person.” Shopping was the first legitimate reason to get women out of the house and meet publicly with other people. Shopping is still a social vehicle for women, and we enjoy shopping with gals and giving each other advices. To attract female shoppers, the total experience should be much more detailed cared, with an emphasis on trial, education, and “bring-a-friend-get-discount”.

After reading this book, I found myself starting to observe retail spaces and shopper behaviors. I could spot numerous improvement opportunities for a single store such as not enough mirrors, no trial samples, or non-flattering fitting rooms. I also liberated my boyfriend from going to H&M with me, and let him browse his Best Buy or Game Stop.