21 July 2019,
Organic Traffic

We’re seeing significant changes in size, location, fulfillment capabilities, and staffing when it comes to brick-and-mortar stores.  Success metrics are changing.  As are assessments of purpose and overall value.   

Which is why I think the paper Benchmarking Retail Shoppabilityby Raymond Burke and Neil Morgan of Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business, is so important.

Why do I feel it is so valuable? Well first of all, Burke and Morgan give us a framework – based upon more than ten years of study and an analysis of near 5,000 shoppers taking some 16,000 shopping trips — for how to translate consumer demand into store-based purchases.

Repeat after me: store-based purchases.  

Not “experiences.”  Not “personalization.”  

This is deep, detailed study about the most delicious sound in retail: the ringing of the register.   And especially relevant now in this omnichannel, unified commerce age.

Let me share with you a simplified look at the Burke-Morgan Shoppability framework.   

First: shoppability consists of two elements:  

  • shopper engagement: Engagement is the degree to which a retail setting “activates” a shopper. It’s when an ever-deepening connection to needs and wants is created and maintained.  (Even heightened.) 
  • purchase conversion: Purchase conversion, of course, is about turning shoppers into buyers. It’s about the removal of barriers and friction points, the paving of a smooth decision glide path to yes. 

Second: can you measure shoppability – and guide others to it?  

The good news is that Burke and Morgan give us five overarching dimensions that create the engagement and conversion of shoppability:  

  • Relevance.  It’s about providing the quality products and services she wants, such as being in stock. Price point impact?  It’s relative, and it’s about perceived fairness – are the SKUs (and services) worth the money?   Keep in mind: lower prices do not automatically win.  
  • Visual Transparency.  As shoppers enter the store, can they see what there is to see? Does the first impression – and the ongoing impressions — increase or decrease what the behavioral scientists term cognitive stress?  Is there clear department and category identification, product organization, and clear-easy information visibility?   
  • Convenience.  Is the store intuitive, or does it demand a user manual?  Does the store minimize friction to engage, find and decide?   Is there ample parking, wide aisles?  Fast and helpful service?  Fast and accurate check-out?   
  • Assurance.  Does the store (through signage and associates) provide the information that gives shoppers confidencethat they’ve made the right decision? Are there designated experts on-site or available by phone or by bot?  Are web-based ratings and reviews available?  What about so-called “solution recipes” that guide shoppers to an end result, be it a birthday cake or backyard deck?   

Here, Burke and Morgan make clear that shoppability is more than merchandising and operations. Winning store retailing is about step-by-step engagement with the shopper journey to purchase. 

  • Enjoyment.   Enjoyment is tangible and leads to purchase; it consists of surprise(in which the shopper finds unexpected bargains and new-fun products) and comfort(places to sit and relax, refreshments, a great playlist, and – critically- clean and safe restrooms.)

Two other insights to share:

Burke and Morgan draw a valuable distinction between that which drives success for planned purchases– winning, for instance, the every-Monday night-fill-the-trolley grocery run – and what produces unplanned purchases, those important basket- and margin-boosters. 

What wins planned purchases? Relevance, of course.  And transparency, and a lack of clutter – visual clutter, assortment clutter, and marketing clutter.

Unplanned purchases?  Surprise, of course, and to an interesting degree, comfort.

What I found interesting is what discourages conversion.  

More than anything else, it’s a lack of assurance.

Lack of assurance kills conversion.     

As the decision scientists make clear, we’re rarely fully confident that we’ve made a right decision – especially in the marketplace. It’s the lack of confidence that leads to hesitation at point of purchase.   And it is why we regularly turn to online ratings and reviews and seek the advice of peers.  

Therefore, be sure to engage, then convert. Through relevance, transparency, convenience, assurance, and enjoyment.

Previously published on It Peer Network

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