Sunday, April 10, 2011

Clear Up Clutter Ambiguities

What can the operator of a small to midsize retail store learn from Walmart, Dollar General, and Best Buy about store clutter?
     To manage it strategically.
     From late 2009 through early 2011, many Big Box retailers tidied up aisles and shelves. One reason was the decision to carry less inventory in economically uncertain times. Then there was miniaturization and digitizing. When you’re selling pocket toys instead of those of traditional build or selling music phones instead of CD players, there’s less need to stuff in the merchandise.
     In some cases, the cleanup came from a realization that consumers were wanting to keep all things more straightforward in their lives, again because of the economically uncertain times. Loblaw Companies Limited—Canada’s largest grocery retailer—rolled out their “Clutter-Free Check Out Lanes,” and Superquinn in Ireland moved in that same direction.
     A New York Times article said that Walmart cut down on the clutter in order to attract shoppers from Target. End caps got narrower, the floor-toward-ceiling power aisle shelves got much shorter, and people coming from opposite directions could actually navigate two shopping carts comfortably past each other.
     Walmart shoppers loved the spaciousness. Customer satisfaction surged. On the other hand, the size of the average sale plummeted. The NYT article reported how Walmart then began plumping up the racks and cluttering up the aisles. Around the same time, Dollar General decided to raise shelf heights, and Best Buy began thinking about filling their roomy aisles with bicycles. The motto seems to have become, “If they trip over it, they might decide to buy it.”
     There’s something else at work, too: Research says clutter implies low prices. And this is where you can make a strategic decision. You could go for the clutter to play to the increasing price sensitivity of consumers worldwide. Or you could distinguish yourself and have the opportunity to set higher prices by holding out for neatness.
     Don’t overdo it, though. Consumers need sufficient complexity to stay engaged. A classic and repeated finding in consumer psychology is that we want to introduce enough incongruity, enough surprise, so that the shopper slows down for a moment to appreciate the sales message. If the layout is overly sterile, the viewer processes it all immediately and then moves on—beyond the range of a possible add-on or upgrade that would benefit both the shopper and the retailer.

For your profitability: Sell Well: What Really Moves Your Shoppers

Click below for more:
Less Store Clutter, More Store Branding
Manage Store Clutter Strategically

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