Hands free – it’s not just for driving

Sephora has shopping baskets nailed. Here’s how they do it: I approach the store, drift toward a display for a look – only looking today. Next I spy the hand cream I’d wanted and there’s a lip-gloss trio that would be a great gift. Suddenly I’m carrying my purse, my coat and two Sephora items.

This moment, after five minutes inside – not as I enter the store – is when I would like a shopping basket. This is when a Sephora staffer offers me one – and a nice easy-to-carry basket – not a bulky awkward thing with metal handles that dig into my wrist.

Baskets (along with the butt-brush that I wrote about in a previous post) are a topic Paco Underhill examines in Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping. Though it was written 10 years ago the insights in this book are current and intriguing. I love this book.

“The issue of shopping baskets is a perfect example of …the complex matrix of anatomical traits and human behaviours that determine how we shop,” he says. Putting baskets just inside the entrance shows that retailers don’t get what shoppers do in stores – remarkable since they are shoppers themselves. If they watched their shoppers carefully – even for a few minutes, they’d understand.

The transition zone – as you enter the store – is no place for baskets or even signs Paco contends. As we approach an entrance, we are preoccupied with what we’ll do in the store, busy looking for the door handle, fretting about the time or any number of things that preclude sign-reading or basket-taking. and we often think we’re just getting one thing anyway.

Watch for it next time you enter a retail transition zone. Any thoughts on stores that get it right? Or don’t?

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