Point of sales displays and other subtle retail nudges

I’m as big a fan of a Starbucks Caramel Macchiato as the next man. Come to think of it, significantly more so. Which means I can be found wild-eyed and caffeine-stoked sipping on a skinny Grande there most days. So I was pretty surprised when I watched this Bloomberg video which illustrates the subtle ways they (and other retailers) influence in-store experiences, not just with point of sales displays but through lighting schemes and layout. Fascinated, I asked our own displays team for their insight into the science of this and the ways they work with customers to get best results;

  1. The arrival zone
    Being the transition from outside to in, this is where the guest or customer forms his first impressions. As we know, “first impressions count” and apparently within as little as the first 5 feet he will have made an evaluation and judgement of what sort of a space it is, whether it appeals and whether to venture further in. So it’s absolutely critical that lighting, fixtures, displays, colours and any merchandise he encounters here portray the best possible image and create the most welcoming environment.

  2. Where next?
    Astonishingly, given the choice, a full 90% of consumers will choose to turn right upon entering a store. Makes sense then that the wall or display that greets these right-turners is striking, has maximum impact and is reserved for offers, stock or messaging that hits home and which the retailer most wants his customers to be exposed to.

  3. The through route
    The longer that customers spend with you, the more likely they are to spend, and the greater that spend is likely to be. A much loved Swedish homeware brand has totally mastered the art of disorientating shoppers so as to maximise a customer’s exposure to its merchandise! Guiding them along a determined pathway using different flooring, textures, lighting, point of sales displays, obstacles and fixtures can “nudge” customers gently towards what is on offer. It can also serve to slow their pace, discourage the in-and-out visitor and encourage impulse and additional purchases.

  4. Look at me!
    Higher demand, most popular (and crucially from the retailer’s perspective, most-profitable) products and offers are displayed at eye-level so as not to risk being missed. To be doubly sure that these items grab the requisite amount of attention, point of sales displays reinforce their presence and smart grouping together of products promotes an up-sell and cross-sell. These are changed regularly to retain novelty for frequent, repeat visitors.

  5. Mind the gap…
    Merchandise packed wall-to-wall or, even worse, cramming diners in too tightly, infringes on a customer’s personal space. For women in particular this makes for a negative experience and, being forced to “brush up against” others, sends customers fleeing and stops cash registers ringing!

  6. What’s left?
    Whatever the business people need to be able to pay for their purchases, of course. A difficult to navigate or hidden checkout defeats the object, but one that potentially interrupts a customer’s journey (and potential spending) is also less than idea. The left-hand side at the front of the store is an oft-chosen spot for a till or cash desk as the right-turning visitor will naturally have skirted that on his way in.

I’d had no idea, as I quietly enjoyed my daily caffeine hit, that so much thought and planning had gone in to ensuring the whole experience was an enjoyable one for me, and a profitable one for the coffee shop!

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