- Trick the brain into believing the area is larger. A boldly-colored wall creates an illusion of receding into infinity. (I’ll add that the effect is greater when the wall is illuminated with an accent light.) Or show an actual receding into space with even a small window.
- Reduce the clutter by allowing ample room in merchandising and using wall shelving in place of shelving units. (Shelves that are not fully faced can help, too. But limiting clutter should not mean sacrificing a treasure hunt appeal.)
- Have assortments. Researchers at Columbia University and University of British Columbia found that when shoppers from Western cultures are in tight spaces, they want greater variety among products.
- Describe product differences to shoppers. University of Pennsylvania studies discovered that consumers who initially see a limited variety in the breadth and width of merchandise become much happier, and therefore stay around longer to buy, when the retail store helps them recognize the differences among the products. The consumers don’t feel so trapped by restrictions on their freedom to choose. In signage and in customer-salesperson conversations, you’ll want to categorize products because customers seek categories. But especially in the more cramped store, also highlight the differences among the product offerings.
- If the products are somewhat substitutable—such as earrings or soups—arrange the stock randomly. University of Pennsylvania and University of Illinois researchers found that this gives the shopper a feeling of there being more to choose from. It takes some time for the shopper to scan the choices. The increased time translates in the shopper’s mind to the impression of a larger assortment.
- Remind the customer of the variety of experiences they’ve had when shopping in your store. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, University of Minnesota, and New York University say the reason this works is that we often forget all of the variety we’ve actually had in our lives and instead focus on how repetitive our experiences have been. By reminding the customer of prior buying trips—or asking the customer if there have been prior buying trips—we generate a sense of variety, which, in turn, produces feelings of being in control.
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Add Apparent Assortment in Tight Quarters