In his book Inside the Mind of the Shopper, US shopper insights pioneer Herb Sorensen states that “Shoppers only spend 20% of their time selecting purchases and 80% in transit” with the implication that retailers need to put products in the path of shoppers so they can spend less time walking and more time buying. This would certainly seem to be a valuable insight in as much as it makes a distinction between useful and wasted shopper time; however is this generalisation about time utilisation always true?
In a recent SRI study, we tracked nearly 2,000 supermarket shoppers across their entire in-store journey, logging their activities and the way they spent their time. We were surprised when our results showed that around half of their time was spent actively shopping; that is browsing, interacting with and selecting products, and less than 20% was spent navigating the store (the remainder was spent queuing and checking out). In contrast a minority of shoppers who left empty handed spent 80% more of their time navigating, implying that frustration in finding items may have contributed to their failure to buy.
So perhaps this store is on the whole particularly efficient on the basis of Herb’s criteria or maybe there is a lot more variance between stores than we might first imagine. Either way there is sense in asking the question “How able are shoppers to optimise their time in my stores and what can I do to improve things?” because time would certainly seem to be money where shopping is concerned.