Reduce the complexity of the physical environment

The shopping experience is rich with sensory stimuli intended to attract and persuade shoppers to a particular product or promotion. Stores often create distractions or inhibit direct pathways for shoppers if it leads to an increase in impulse purchases. A common tactic in grocery stores is to place essential items far from the store entrance in order to force shoppers to navigate a larger area of the store. This introduces distractions that often cause shoppers to overlook items as they navigate the store, resulting in the need to backtrack to gather missed items and an increase in the level of frustration they experience.

Complexity in the store environment might increases impulse purchases, but that doesn’t necessarily lead to more spending. In fact, research shows that shopper frustration can significantly decrease the amount of money shoppers spend on a given trip because frustrated shoppers are more likely to deviate from their initial plan. Longer-than-expected shopping trips tend to make shoppers more purposeful, which increases reliance on shopping lists; decreases exploratory behaviors and overall time shopping; and reduces their tendency to make hedonic purchases. This has also been found to lead shoppers to buy less in order to qualify for express or self-checkout lanes to make up lost time.

Remember, good experiences make happy customers and happy customers are more loyal customers. Design the complexity out of the environment!

1 Simplify their view of the store.

A simplified but accurate representation of the store eliminates unnecessary elements much like a subway map does for a city. Design the map of the store so that it divides the complex space into smaller, more easily identifiable and navigable areas. Focus on districts (produce), landmarks (citrus fruit table), and routes (take me to the oranges) as well as the holistic view of the store. These varying levels of focus allows shoppers to identify familiar landmarks and regain their orientation within the environment.

2 Focus on items of explicit interest to the shopper.

Shopping lists and other explicit declarations of intent allow the application to further simplify the view of the store by focusing distinctly on the items, routes and landmarks relevant to the products shoppers have chosen. Ideally, these lists are the primary refinement that defines how we virtually represent the physical environment. Therefore it’s important to allow shoppers to create or edit lists whenever and wherever is convenient. This includes planning at home, while shopping, etc. More on this in “Be fun, smart, attentive, and efficient”.

Accessibility Considerations

The complexity of the store environment is relative to the abilities of the individual shopper as well as their familiarity with the environment. Novice users and individuals with physical or cognitive deficiencies greatly benefit from simplified representations of complex environments and situations like those associated with shopping.

18 references informed this principle

[1] Bhattacharya, Sourav & Pulkkinen, Teemu, Monstre: A mobile navigation system for retail environments on Smart Mobile, 2011.

[2] Darken, RP & Peterson, Barry, Spatial orientation, wayfinding, and representation, Handbook of virtual environments, 4083, 2002.

[3] Halvey, M & Keane, M T Memory zones for online supermarket shopping, Vol. 2, No. ii, 586-590, 2004.

[4] Hui, Sam K.; Bradlow, Eric T. & Fader, Peter S., Testing Behavioral Hypotheses Using an Integrated Model of Grocery Store Shopping Path and Purchase Behavior, Journal of Consumer Research, Vol. 36, No. 3, 478-493, October 2009.

[5] Inman, JJ; Winer, RS & Ferraro, Rosellina, The Interplay Among Category Characteristics, Customer Characteristics, and Customer Activities on In-Store Decision Making, Journal of Marketing, Vol. 73, 19-29, September 2009.

[6] Jacobs, Sunelle; Van Der Merwe, Daleen; Lombard, E & Kruger, Nadia, Exploring consumers preferences with regard to department and specialist food stores, International Journal of Consumer Studies, Vol. 34, No. 2, 169-178, 2010.

[7] Lo Presti, S; Butler, M; Leuschel, M & Booth, C, A Trust Analysis Methodology for Pervasive Computing Systems, 129-143, 2005.

[8] Pantano, Eleonora & Laria, Giuseppe, Innovation in Retail Process: From Consumers' Experience to Immersive Store Design, Journal of technology management and innovation, Vol. 7, No. 3, 194-206, 2012.

[9] Salvador, Tony; Barile, Steve & Sherry, John, Ubiquitous Computing Design Principles : Supporting Human-Human and Human-Computer Transactions, 1497-1500, 2004.

[10] Vanderhulst, G; Luyten, Kris & Coninx, K, Pervasive maps: Explore and interact with pervasive environments, 2010 IEEE International Conference on Pervasive Computing and Communications, 227-234, 2010.

[11] An Exploratory Look at Supermarket Shopper Paths, J. Larson, E. Bradlow, P. Fader, 2005.

[12] A Walk Around the Block, Landscape, K. Lynch, M. Rivkin, 1959.

[13] Drawing Attention to Context-Awareness with CaST: A Context-Aware Shopping Trolly, D. Black, N.J. Clemmensen, 2006.

[14] In-store shopping environment and impulsive buying, M. Tendai, C. Crispen, June 2009.

[15] The Hybrid Shopping List: Bridging the Gap between Physical and Digital Shopping Lists, F. Hendrichs, D. Schreiber, J Schoning, MobileHCI ’11, pages 251-254, 2011.

[16] The Extended Mind, A. Clark, D. Chalmers, 1998.

[17] A Taxonomy for and Analysis of Multi-Person-Display Ecosystems, L. Terrenghi, 2009.

[18] Socio-Technical Environments Supporting People with Cognitive Disabilities Using Public Transportation, S. Carmien, M. Dawe, G. Fischer, A. Gorman, A. Kintsch, J. Sullivan Jr., 2004.

© 2014 - Jonathan Morgan | @promorock | LinkedIn