Be honest about whether this has ever happened to you: you run into your local department store to get a loaf of bread and when you look down you’re pushing a cart full of merchandise. What happened between entering the double door and getting to the checkout line? Well, the maestros of the mall, the Svengalis of the store, yes, your local retail managers were ready and waiting. Let’s get prepared for the next time!
One trick they have is to position items near the register while the consumer waits in line. This gives the retailer one last opportunity to sell additional merchandise. It may be shelves from of Candy like in your local CVS, fudge squares sitting on the counter in your local 7-11, or small, transparent mini-fridges that hold ice-cold drinks. Often these products are relatively cheap and cater to your sweet tooth. Only the sellers know how much they rake in from minute purchases of Skittles and the National Enquirer, but what’s clear is that their setup is no accident!
Store coupons can even be a bit of subterfuge. Supermarkets in particular are famous for promotions like buy one, get one free. What’s lost on many consumers is that the sale can actually prompt the buyer to purchase more than he or she intended. In this way your ‘savings’ actually makes you purchase products you don’t truly need, and actually increases the overall profit of the retailer. Genius!
The use of loss leaders is another clever way for retailers, particularly larger ones, to fleece customers. This is the retail equivalent of the rope-a-dope. Draw the customers in only to pummel them! A loss leader describes an item which the merchant sells for less than the amount of money it stands to gain. By selling items at such a low price more customers are drawn to the store and while inside will purchase additional items. In the end the extra items the customer’s additional purchases, as well as limits on the quantity of sale items a customer can purchase, will put the retailer in the black.
Some large retailers give out free samples of products with which the customer may not be familiar. You may see an individual standing at a cart inside the store offering small portions of food items to whet the consumer’s appetite. This gets the customer realizing how hungry he or she is and boosts the possibility of them purchasing high-margin snacks.
Customer loyalty programs keep you spending your money in a particular location. Those insidious plastic cards in your wallet don’t save you any money! They keep you coming back again and again spending extra money just to save a fraction of it.
Everything in a retail store is set up for a reason. Where do you suppose the loss leader items mentioned up above are typically located? That’s right, at the back of the store. The customer that attempts to get them will likely pass through a gauntlet of expensive and enticing items on their way to the bait. Very clever! Often times in a Wal-Mart essential products like milk and cheese are located in the corner of the store. Thus one cannot simply run into the store to grab a single essential product without at least coming into contact with other goods.