Today: The smart cart.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]There are few chores I enjoy more than food shopping.  I like to write out a list and check each item off as I wander the aisles.  I like to read labels, smell and squish produce, pick out flowers for arranging, and scope out new products.  We’re lucky to have a really great Whole Foods Market that boasts incredible customer service, plenty of parking, and a savvy social media presence to boot, not far from our condo.

I occasionally pop into Stop & Shop, but the number of times I’ve been nearly run over in the South Bay Center sort of makes me want to never be there without body armor.  When I am feeling especially lazy, or need to stock up on toilet paper, I order from Peapod.  But generally,  I want to be passing my shopping time in the store I love.

I was up early this morning and caught a CNBC documentary called Supermarkets, Inc.  Nerd alert!  I love these shows almost as much as I love the UK version of Antiques Roadshow.  Anyway, while watching the show, I took 4 pages of notes.  Super ultra mega nerd alert!  I thought I’d share some freshly acquired knowledge with you for your next trip down the aisles.

Bread, milk and butter

People most often visit grocery stores in America with plans to purchase “the staples.”  Companies, hoping to entice shoppers to buy the non-staples, typically place milk at the back corner of the store.

Not so straight path

More and more, stores are moving away from the traditionally straight rows of aisles.  We’ve all heard the advice to “shop the perimeter” of stores, avoiding the processed, boxed items at the center of the store.  By organizing meandering aisles with lots of twists and turns, stores hope to bring shoppers up and down each row.  Those cut-throughs, mid-aisle, were added to keep shoppers from feeling trapped.  Once a box of cereal, seemingly untouched, fell from a top shelf and hit me in the head.  I wonder if grocery stores have considered adding a little lip to shelved to keep that from happening.  Or maybe that’s only ever happened to me.  You probably think I get hit in the head a lot.  I don’t.

Seducing the shopper

Don't mind if I do!

Markets attract shoppers with as many senses as possible.  From positioning flowers and freshly baked bread at the front of the store, to misting produce with water, to turning chickens on rotisseries– it’s all about seducing the shopper.  Offering samples, something Whole Foods Market does so well, is an especially effective means of keeping a shopper in the store longer, and ensuring they do some shopping.

Size matters

[Photo source]

The size of your shopping cart might determine how much you spend in a given trip to the market.  In one experiment, shopping carts were doubled in size, resulting in people buying an average of 40% more than they did with a “regular” sized cart.  Incidentally, the typical American family spends $100 a week on groceries.  This amount is slightly increased for Whole Foods shoppers (an average $33/basket), but prices for staples at Whole Foods are competitive, despite common misconception.

How to outsmart the super market

Marketing expert Martin Lindstrom, author of Buyology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy, offers three tips for shopping smart.

  1. Leave the kids at home.
  2. Do not take a shopping cart.  Carry items in your arms, or if needed, in a basket.  You’d be surprised by what you won’t buy if you need to carry it around.
  3. Do not use your credit card.  The feeling of “unlimited” funds may prevent you from being selective.  Lindstrom suggests shopping with $100 bills, as he purports that breaking a big bill “hurts like hell.”
Oh, and don’t food shop hungry.  That’s how not one, but two containers of lemon and garlic olives end up in your fridge.  Man, those things are good.
Also On Tap for Today:
  • Chillin’ and grillin’ by the pool 🙂
  • I love this vegetable centerpiece
  • Happy Memorial Day, with gratitude for all who have served
What was the last impulse purchase you made at the grocery store?

7 thoughts on “Today: The smart cart.

  1. I shopped the other day without a cart or basket since I only needed four things. I was amazed at how this kept me to buying what was on my list. I was tempted by items not on my list, but then realized I would need to carry them in my already full arms and decided against it. I left the store with my original four items and spending under $10! It felt great.

  2. Man I want some of those roasted brussels sprouts. Guess I shouldn’t read blogs hungry, either. (And I have massive Whole Foods envy.)

    I do most of my grocery shopping at the farmers market these days, so impulse buys tend to take the form of fresh strawberries or peas. Yum.

  3. I LOVE this post. I have a similar one drafted. I also read his book Buyology and it really intrigued me as to how and why I buy things. I am still digesting it and will then review it on my blog because I loved it that much.

  4. Would you like to pass some of that love for grocery shopping over to me? I am not a fan haha. But I do love Whole Foods more than anywhere else 🙂 Also, my husband and I used to grocery shop together but we have been trying to do it a little less because we realized 2 people to make impulse purchases was not good for the wallet haha

  5. So interesting! I know that I spend way too much at the grocery store – especially with my mid-week trips to WF. I can’t seem to get out of there for less than $30… perhaps the cart is to blame!

  6. I was just at the whole foods in Santa Fe yesterday, it’s super nice. I live in Virginia and the whole foods there are nice too, but this one just had something special to it– maybe it was the red peppers hanging outside the store for decoration along the perimeter of the white porch on the side.

  7. I usually start with a basket but then it gets to heavy I make BRian carry it and then sometimes we just need more thigns so the basket gets plopped into a cart 🙂
    Those lemon garlic olives ARE incredible and well worth the splurge! I have noticed that when I went to the Fresh Market down in Hingham, the aisles are like diaganol, definintely not the usual so you do want to go through them.

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