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Why We Buy

The Science of Shopping

By Paco Underhill
15-minute read
Audio available
Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping by Paco Underhill

Why We Buy draws on observations of real shoppers' behavior to understand the way people make purchases. It presents advice on how to design and tweak stores to optimize the shopping experience for customers, and thereby increase sales.

  • Anyone interested in how retailers manipulate us into buying more
  • Anyone who wants to open their own shop
  • Anyone working in retail or hoping to work in retail

Paco Underhill is the founder and CEO of Envirosell, a consultancy which focuses on studying consumer behavior. Major clients include Adidas, Microsoft and McDonald’s.

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Why We Buy

The Science of Shopping

By Paco Underhill
  • Read in 15 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 9 key ideas
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Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping by Paco Underhill
Synopsis

Why We Buy draws on observations of real shoppers' behavior to understand the way people make purchases. It presents advice on how to design and tweak stores to optimize the shopping experience for customers, and thereby increase sales.

Key idea 1 of 9

If you want to turn shoppers into customers, observe how they behave inside the store.

Everywhere you go today, whether online or offline, you see opportunities to buy things.

But at the same time, people are no longer willing to buy something just because they have already decided that they need it or have seen an advertisement for it on their way to work.

Instead, buying decisions are increasingly made inside stores. This is because inside a store people can be enticed to make impulse purchases: things they think they might need when they see them.

So if you’re a shop owner, the first step is to get people to come inside the store. But not everyone who enters will actually make a purchase, so you need to find a way to convert these casual shoppers into buyers. A number of factors influence this conversion rate.

For example, just getting people to stay longer inside your shop will make them more likely to buy something, so make your shop an environment where people want to linger.

On the other hand, some traits can hurt your conversion rate – for example, having long lines.

By observing the way people shop, we can learn how to improve stores to optimize this conversion rate, by focusing on aspects like store design, product arrangement and employee tasks.

For example, one newsstand owner observed his customers for a while and noticed that most of them were Korean. Thus enlightened, the owner stocked up on Korean magazines and consequently increased his sales greatly.

The behavior of shoppers has previously been somewhat neglected as a field of study. However, it is only by observing the shopping behavior of real people that retailers can learn how to improve stores and optimize the conversion from shoppers to customers.

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