New Research Shows Too Many Options in Store May Be a Bad Thing

Many people assume that offering shoppers options is a great way to increase basket size and encourage people to buy more, industry observers say. The assumption is that the longer shoppers have to browse the category, the more products they will buy. However, new research suggests the opposite might actually be true.

A new study by virtual store research firm InContext Solutions, reveals that the quicker shoppers are able to find their first product, the more likely they are to linger in the category and purchase more. Research shows the opposite is also true: every two additional minutes a shopper takes to make his or her first purchase in a category reduces the final basket size by one product.

Chiara Piccinotti, director of insights at InContext Solutions explains, “Today’s time-strapped, distracted shoppers don’t want to get lost in the store. They want to find what they’re looking for and move on. If retailers help shoppers save a couple of minutes finding the one thing they want, they’ll end up purchasing an extra product on average. Extrapolate that over millions of shoppers, and the sales impact really adds up.”

InContext Solutions studies shopping behavior in 3D virtual store simulations, with results that correlate almost exactly to real world behavior, company officials say. The company maintains an extensive archive of virtual shopping data, encompassing 150,000 respondents shopping across dozens of categories and 300+ store layouts.

Piccinotti notes that InContext Solutions has found the median time a shopper devotes to a single shopping mission to be just over four minutes. Less than 15% of shopping missions last over 10 minutes.

“Instead of setting up stores for ‘browsing’ behavior, retailers should optimize their layouts for ‘search.’ Make top-performing products easy to find, rationalize SKUs and keep shelves clearly organized. Shoppers will be able to zero in on what they really need, and retailers will enjoy better sales.”

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