Why We Buy – The Science of Shopping

has never been so splendidly communicated than as in Why We Buy by Paco Underhill and published by Simon & Schuster. This book eloquently highlights problems, solutions and the “whys” of shopper motivation without self-aggrandizement, but simple, practical studies in behavior motivations of buyers.

With so much information to present, it is a wonder that it is organized so well in 19 chapters. As an avid highlighter (so I can brush up on my knowledge base at a later date) I recommend this volume should be purchased NOT just read on a Kindle or a Nook but a permanent addition to your library.

Frankly, the information is so valuable, because it was gained from the research of Envirosell, Inc.  it should be read in high school English classes rather than books on man’s baser instincts. It will help college-bound students immediately become more valuable to potential employers as they work their way through school. (Even with my significant experience in B-2-B and retail, I found this book fascinating.)

What’s best about the information given is that it is applicable in so many other situations. Real-life examples are taken from studies at banks, US Post Office, C-stores, pharmacies, supermarkets, discount stores, department, computer, automotive, internet, hardware and others. As I worked through this book I found it opened my mind also creating other solutions to business problems.

Mr. Underhill explains Retailing 101/s 3 aspects: design (the premises), merchandising (the store’s insides), and operations (what employees do). He continues with other salient points that will increase sales in any retail environment.

1) Why and how to create add on sales for major products (cross selling)

2) How to place products so they get more attention

3) How to better compete with web retailers

4) The dreaded “butt-brush” factor

5) The importance of quick service and check-out procedures

One story of special interest was how one retailer got rid of teenagers that were loitering in the parking lot at night. Hiring a security guard was too expensive and would cause many more problems, so a smart practical solution was found. “It began piping the smooth, suave sounds of Mantovani through the loudspeakers. No more loiterers.” This is an example of simple, common-sense solutions identified in this book.

Another question answered in my mind was “why must I listen to poorly performed and insipid rock music in stores?” (Ever notice how many times the word “Baby” is used the lyrics of today’s music?) Mr. Underhill mentions that while teenagers flee easy listening music as if it were anthrax, older shopper will tolerate just about anything.

Here are a few additional areas that are covered:

1) How to create specific selling environments for men and women

2) How to make it easier for older customers to shop

3) How to make it easier for larger people to shop

4) How to create and position signage so it is actually seen

No matter your retail environment exposure as a shopper, employee, manager or owner, Why We Buy – The Science of Shopping will help you modify your behavior to get more out of the experience.

Photo by Vincent Albanese