Miles of Aisles for a Gallon of Milk?

Article: Carless, W. (2008) “Miles of Aisles for a Gallon of Milk?” The New York Times. Visited on 10 September 2008

Conceptual Design: In a world of giant grocery stores where consumers have to make mentally-taxing decisions on every product they consider purchasing, create a grocery store that caters to grab-and-go shopping patterns for prepared meals and a few items rather than the big shopping trip for the week. Tailor the experience to “time-starved” shoppers. The average person spends 22 minutes shopping which is not enough time to see all 60,000 products in the store.

Interaction Design: User surveys have shown that consumers would rather have high-quality products they can trust than 50 feet of ketchups they aren’t sure about. The store should offer fewer choices to speed decision making on the consumer’s part.

Personal extrapolations to Interaction Design: Optimize for quick sales and discourage long shopping trips which would in turn result in a consumer having a lot at the register to purchase which slows everyone else down.

Interface Design: Lay out the store with fewer aisles, stocked with only one or a few kinds of each item (one spaghetti sauce that is really good as opposed to 50 varieties). Offer high-quality prepared meals for purchase which undercut restaurant prices and bank on consumer impulse buys for quick meals. Don’t try to recreate the big box store experience: these stores are designed for quick, grab-and-go sales, not long shopping trips. Assume the average shopping trip will be no more than 22 minutes. Provide cafe-style spaces with wireless Internet and large screen televisions. Make the store a one-stop quick destination for the small things or quick meals. Put emphasis on “fresh”, “quick” and “easy”.

Personal extrapolations to Interface Design: Include self-checkout stations to speed consumers along their way. Allow for purchases to be made at the point of contact — sales in the bakery section or the prepared meals section as opposed to forcing the consumer to get in line for one or two things. Only provide shoppers with baskets or much smaller carts to discourage long shopping trips (that is what the big box store is for!) The store should be inviting, evoking a feeling of a market and cafe.

  1 comment for “Miles of Aisles for a Gallon of Milk?

  1. April 24, 2010 at 4:00 am

    This is a conceptual design note, but it belongs in with Interface Design section above—the store’s choice of items becomes an expert recommendation to its customers about various choices in brands. If the store doesn’t understand who shops, then the choices will be bad ones for that user demographic. The users be turned off to the entire selection–can’t trust the store’s recommendations!

    Also, I think a choice of various basket/cart sizes might be better then one “small” option… Another problem with small baskets—people still them more often! (I’ve spoken with supermarket managers about this problem.) Smaller cards are taken home!

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