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Book has valuable insight for retailers

"Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping" by Paco Underhill (Simon & Schuster)

"Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping" by Paco Underhill (Simon & Schuster)

March 24, 2003|by VIVIAN SAFFECOOL

The science of shopping - I did not know there was such a field of study.

I think every retailer who reads this book will be glad that Paco Underhill decided to study shoppers and put his years of findings in book form. The author uses his hours and hours of watching shoppers to give advise on such things as store layout, use of floor space, what draws customers in and why they don't buy.

For example, Underhill was observing a women's dress department during the morning hours. A woman came in to shop pushing her child in a stroller. The racks were not spaced far enough apart for the stroller to fit through easily.

Of course, she was not going to leave her child alone in the isle. Instead, she left the store without making a purchase, feeling annoyed.

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Why didn't the merchandise consider this scenario when arranging the floor?

Underhill writes: "You don't know how much shoppers will buy until you've made the shopping experience as comfortable and easy and practical as possible."

That seems like a simple concept, but one that is not always put into use. Underhill has filled his book with stories and examples that make this an interesting, sometimes funny, read. Competition is heavy and every customer is so precious. The valuable and often obvious lessons in this book will give any establishment the edge it needs to obtain an increase in sales.

Vivian Suffecool of TBL Packaging is a participant in the Management Book Club.

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