Department Store...The soda machines near the check-out counter are no coincidence. And that little black dress modeled with a little black jacket and a lot of little accessories isn't exactly an accident either. So what does it mean?
WalletPop.com shopped around with Paco Underhill, author of the book Why We Buy, to reveal the most common tricks stores will not only use to lure buyers, but to guarantee consumers won't walk away empty-handed.
Are you falling for these ordinary tricks? Read on to find out. -- Aaron Crowe
(AP Photo/Matt Houston)
1. SmellThere's a reason why perfume counters are located at the front of a department store: Not only is perfume a moneymaker, but it also smells good.
"That, in part, gets our saliva glands developing, and when we are salivating we are much less disciplined shoppers," says Underhill.
(AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
2. SoundMusic can lure shoppers to stay, or send them away. But it needs to make sense for the store's core demographic. Abercrombie & Fitch, for example, blares music a 40-year-old doesn't want to hear, so that he or she won't stick around, but younger shoppers will.
Some stores change their music depending on the time of day, such as Frank Sinatra on Monday mornings when older shoppers and mothers with young children are more likely to be around, and then switch to modern, hip music on Friday nights to attract the younger shoppers, says Underhill.
(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
3. Shopping Cart...They're conveniently located near the entrance so shoppers at Target, Wal-Mart and other big box retailers can easily grab one and put their stuff in it while walking around the store. You may have intended to buy only a few items, but a huge cart makes it easier to buy more because there is so much room in it, says Thompson.
(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
4. The stuff you...Most of the staples that consumers regularly shop for are often located at the back of the store, thereby forcing them to walk past the store's less in-demand items on the way there. That provides more opportunity for you to spot something you like -- but weren't planning on buying. Toy departments are often located near the back of the store as well, because pretty much every child will beg their parents to make a stop there while shopping.
(AP Photo/Andy Wong)
5. High-end item...Stores are designed like a racetrack, with areas for shoppers to get on and get off. High-profit items may be to the right of the entrance. "Typically people just walk to the right when they go into stores," says Thompson.
(AP Photo/John Raoux)
6. Roomy AislesDepartment stores also strive to offer shoppers plenty of places to comfortably stop, increasing the chance that they'll take some time to look around and buy something. Underhill calls it the "butt brush factor," where shoppers, mainly women, are less likely to buy if they're crowded from behind. They prefer a comfortable place to stand and look at the tie or blouse, he says.
(AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
7. LightingJust as stores play on the senses of smell and sound, lighting can also be used to increase sales. Putting a product near eye level in a dark basket, and highlighted with warm lighting, can make it look much better than it ever will at home, says Underhill. Williams-Sonoma does an excellent job of lighting it appliances, table tops and other selling areas in this way, he says.
(AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
8. Eye level and...The most expensive version of a product are placed at eye level so it's the first item you'll see. Cheaper options are typically on bottom shelves where you'd have to look down to see it and stoop down to pick it up. A similar philosophy is employed at the end of an aisle. The "end cap" as it's called, is where items are usually put on sale because shoppers often notice those areas, says Thompson.
(AP Photo/Steve Helber)
9. Impulse buys ...In clothing sections, for example, focal points such as displays will be created showing an ensemble, so that a shopper looking solely for a blouse will also see a bag and pair of shoes that go with it. "If we were only in the business of selling this blouse, we would be out of business," Underhill says. "We very much want to link items."
Impulse buys, as every shopper probably knows, are near the checkouts. You're probably thirsty after shopping and standing in line, and an overpriced drink near the checkout stand looks enticing. Other impulse buys include candy and accessories, such as bracelets and sunglasses.
(AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
10. Accessories ...Some of the best profit margins come from accessories, especially in-house brands, says Thompson, who was a buyer for Circuit City. A USB cable made by the company's brand will often be placed right near the checkout counter. So a shopper who had the more expensive name brand in their cart may opt to switch to the cheaper version right before checking out.
Even being aware of these tricks of the trade, doesn't mean you won't fall prey to them. Thompson says that even though she's employed these tricks in her own line of work, "I fall for them every time I go into a store."