The Landing Strip

I witnessed the need for this one today. I was in a Whole Foods grocery store to pick up some cheese for Thanksgiving. As I stood in the express line I had a perfect view of the front doors to the store. Against the front wall, directly to the left and right of the entering and exiting shoppers were two tall stacks of handheld shopping baskets. This is exactly what the book said would happen. Every customer entering the store completely ignored the baskets.

There was no decompression zone. The first 8-10 feet of any store should be left practically bare so that once the customer gets inside, they can begin to adjust to the retail environment. Most displays or products put right next to the door are ignored entirely by shoppers who haven’t had a chance to get in “shopping mode” just yet.

In a smaller store perhaps the decompression zone must be smaller, but do not place anything directly in front of the door for the first 8 feet. This is a deterrent to enter. Some shoppers will stop in front of it, look around, then turn around and walk back out.

The book refers to the space required for a shopper to adjust as the “Landing Strip”. They’ve been walking hurriedly through the parking lot or down the sidewalk, perhaps they’ve been dealing with awful weather, their thoughts were not on shopping. Then they step inside. The lighting changes, the temperature changes, the noise changes, and just in that short 8 to 10 feet they have adjusted their speed to be appropriate for viewing items on shelves and making purchases. Give your people time to recuperate, and whatever is at the front of the store will not be wasted.

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