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The Importance Of Shopper Observation

Shopper Observation Retail

Shopper observation is standard for understanding the when, how and who of customer purchases, but retailers focused on statistics sometimes neglect this practice. Observational marketing research captures surprising insights about customer behaviour, in-store operations, and store layouts, and when used in combination with quantitative data, paints a more complete picture of how your store is performing.

Get Better Insights About Store Operations

While surveys and point of sale data capture customer response and sales transactions, inaccuracies exist between what is reported and a store’s actual performance. For example, you can have X number of sales transactions a day, but the actual number of visitors to the store was Y. This means that you’re missing data on potential customers and why they’re not converting. Reasons can range from lukewarm staff interaction to indecisiveness to product design and assortment, all of which are difficult to see without direct observation.

Improve Customer Response Accuracy

Customer responses often do not match their in-store behavior. For example, if a market research study asks, “Would you purchase a product you like after sampling it”, the customers would answer yes. However, after sampling, retailers don’t always see the expected change in sales. One reason could be store layout. If you sample too far from the display of the actual product, most customers will not seek out the product for purchase after sampling.

Improve Store Layout

Store layout must be logical and optimized to encourage customers to browse, but even the most well planned placement cannot predict customer behaviour. As a store expands, new items and placements skew purchasing patterns. Most retailers do not look at their planogram on a larger scale when they add new products. Thus, the impact of visual cues such as displays and banners becomes harder to quantify without an observer who is able to track customer response from different vantage points.

A customer can forfeit a purchase because he’s unable to decide between two products, because your planogram does not focus his attention on the product you are trying to sell, or because he’s ignoring a part of the store due to suboptimal merchandising. These details play a large part in sales conversions, and could be hurting businesses without their knowledge.

Alternatives To Shopper Observation

Retail customer tracking technology is still in its infancy. Cameras can capture which areas of the store experienced the most traffic, but not the subtle reasons behind a successful or failed purchase. They reveal the dots, but don’t connect them the way granular data can paint a complete picture. Instead of finding new ways to get insights, observe the customer traffic and operations you already have and combine these insights with data from surveys and statistics. It’s a useful way to learn more about your customers!


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