“Covid go away! I miss shopping, and being followed by the shopkeeper,” said my sister the other day desperately. Well, she's not alone, many of us feel the same. Since the outbreak of Covid-19, several activities have been carried out at home. We can't go to the mall to shop, watch movies at the cinema, or even hang out with friends. Though the government has already activated the large-scale social restrictions (PSBB) and health protocol, are we ever going back to normal?
Back again with my sister's story. In marketing terms, this kind of situation when customers being followed around by the shopkeeper is referred to as the “Butt Brush Effect”. This phenomenon was first introduced by Paco Underhill in his book, "Why We Buy".
The book explained that customers are far less likely to make a purchase if they are “brushed” from behind, whether by staff, other shoppers, or by-merchandise. Furthermore, Underhill said in his book that the customers even move away from the merchandise they are interested in to avoid being “brushed”. Little did businesses know, this action could impact sales. So, here are some lessons for the stores:
Leave your customers alone
In other emerging markets, department stores have implemented a system where they provide two baskets of different colors. The color indicates whether the buyer needs help, or if they can do it themselves and don't want to be disturbed. If the buyer takes a colored basket that indicates they need assistance, then the shopkeeper may approach them. Otherwise, the shopkeeper needs to leave them alone, and let the CCTV monitor their activities at the store. This can help the store minimize the “Butt Brush Effect”.
In terms of arranging shelves, Underhill observed that promotional items don't have to be placed in front of the entrance. He once found that parents had difficulties in finding products they usually buy because they were being placed on the bottom shelf. While for young people, going around five times in one shop is easy, maybe even more because there are still things that are not yet reached. Therefore, it is important for the stores to manage goods position wisely.
Restock, don't pile up
Putting all of the goods in one place is a mistake according to Underhill. Apart from disturbing vision because it is more towering than other products, it also deters customers. In addition, piling goods miles high leads the products ending up out of place or on the floor, at once devaluing them. Therefore, rather than piling up inventory it is better to restock the goods regularly during store operating hours.