The modes of our SHOPPING perception

The highway mode -> on the mission to find the products from the shopping list. A to B to C. Auto-piloting.

The traffic jam mode -> waiting in a queue before the checkout line, each second seems too long, but you notice a thing or two

The discovery mode -> open for new proposals, browsing around, suddenly checking the new product

The story mode -> the cellar with wine, cheeses, sausages, winemaker stories - smells, tastes, flavour, words, colours bring experience to life

On some store visits we operate just in one mode. Other shopping trip might blend all the modes together. Some stores help us switch the modes. And some stores don't.

For retailers: What modes is your store offering?

For manufacturers: How does your brand, product enter the particular mode?

Above: A pattern confirmed by our research. Product displays set in the vicinity of the complex categories, with many options to choose from, have low engagement levels.

2. 10. 2018 by Omnibus


Following shopping paths, observing the behavior and analysing scanner data show that each trip is unlike all the others. True. The more you deep dive into the patterns, the more you divide the buying tasks, the more the number of the shopping motives increases. But this shouldn't tempt us.

Indeed, there might be people who come to store just because they are waiting for the cinema - but is this a relevant shopping occasion for our retailer / producer? If the weight is to small, it might serve as an valuable insight, but you shouldn't make an offer on that. Otherwise the store would just become a mess.

Nothing wrong to fracture shopping missions, to understand the behavior on the subcategory level - but than you have to choose the relevant ones that merge into the patterns. The group of friends waiting for the movie to start should find their "solutions" within higher-level missions like "indulging yourself", "quick meal", "having fun" etc.

1. 10. 2018 by Omnibus


The data, digital explosion, changed shopping habits, converging of offline & online etc. have all drawn a new retail map that called for modification or even overthrow of the initial category management framework prepared in the beginning of the 1990s.

Regarding to those suggesting an incremental approach Cat Man 2.0 - with the series of advancements from previous version - should provide a proper response for the new era.

But there might still exist a perspective problem silently inherited from the previous version (and probably very origins of "category thinking"). If Cat Man 2.0 is considered a "discipline of determining optimal assortments" as Tom McDonald of CMA stated recently, then this problem needs to be seriously addressed within the new framework. It's the basic stuff. People rarely visit stores to buy a particular category. Just check scraps of paper with your shopping ideas scribbled. After examinations of these sets of written and mostly unwritten ideas, we can find significant patterns -> shopping missions.

"Quick meal"

"Something for family dinner"

"Indulge myself"

"Guests are almost knocking!"

Those are some of the shopping missions that bring customers into the stores and strongly determine how the shoppers buy individual categories. So seeking assortment answers solely on the level of a particular category might heavily miss the target!

This research is an evidence for this.

Cat Man 2.0 adds Shopper Marketing as a new step in the process.

From Category Management to Cat Man 2.0

Photo by Lindsay Henwood on Unsplash

27. 9. 2018 by Omnibus


When retail shopping paths begin to show a massive pattern of movement from one side of the store far to the other side - this is not a flock of store explorers on a nice coast-to-coast drive, but a disturbance.

It shows that a certain category or set of categories is not at the natural position. Cut off from the observed shopping mission. Such wanderings don't mean any additional buys but additional annoyance. The feelings for the shoppers similar to a typical traffic jam situation during the rush hour.

Some customers will take the pain and some won't. In such cases, something should be changed!

26. 9. 2018 by Omnibus


Retail shopping missions are the frames of customer's behavior in the store. They provide the main goal and determine the behavior in front of shelves.

But sometimes the frames got extensions in the form of the unplanned patterns. Buying yourself a little reward for the "successfully accomplished mission" of shopping (that on average lasts 38 minutes for shopping cart users in groceries) is such a sub-mission.

Important is that products that gather around this sub-mission usually address almost all of the shoppers though they entered the supermarket with completely different initial missions. No one is completely immune.

Even organic purchasers known for their discipline could get diverted. We're only humans after all. But the products that cause their diversion (or shall we say upgrade?) of their mission are not the same that those for the non-organic missions. Therefore the assortment around the checkouts should be most carefully planned and balanced to address different missions.

No, Mars and Snickers and chewing gums might cover many wants but they are just - not enough anymore!

25. 9. 2018 by Omnibus


While a typical grocery supermarket at any given moment holds up to 50.000 different products, a typical shopper buys only 300 of them at max. On a yearly level. Just think about house cleaning products, detergents or even products within the prince of every kitchen - the refrigerator. Many of them are bought over and over again with little variation. Says Siemon Scammell-Katz in his book The Art of Shopping: "For low-involvement categories - those categories that we shop for quickly and are perhaps not that interested in - 69% are repeat brand purchases."

One consequence of this habituation is that people discard the cues and narrow down the options by not paying attention to messages received in various parts of the store (high traffic parts included). Many attempts to get the attention for the products outside the "chosen 300" are clearly just going down the drain.

But the results might get improved. We won't get into branding and connecting to consumer outside the store. Rather we'll emphasise engaging shopper in the store by addressing the right shopping mission.

Our research once again confirms that almost all the shoppers enter the grocery store with a particular shopping mission. Each mission has its own time, budget, goals and dominates the behaviour which is reflected in shopping patterns. Just think about getting a quick meal or buying for the dinner on a way home. You have a plan and more or less you stick to it!

When a supplier considers the best positions in the store, sheer focus on the traffic / foot fall is just not enough. Especially, when you take a ROI perspective. The beter solution is to connect to the specific shopper's mindset attached to a shopping mission. In the store, each shopping missions determines the zones where the shopper opens the cognitive curtain and gets in the buying mood for the category connected to a shopping mission.

The more frictionless your product blends in the shopping mission, the better possibility of the success.

Also, considering the shopping missions might heavily impact the ROI - because less frequented and therefore less expensive store positions might get targeted. For example, to enter the quick meal mission there are actually very few hotspots - and the high traffic action aisle isn't one of them!

Stay tuned as we'll expand on this and also elaborate more on particular shopper profiles!

24. 9. 2018 by Omnibus


The traffic is still the main variable that determines the value of the heavily leveraged secondary store positions. Get a position in a most frequented zone, assure the steady flow of eyes, and the success is guaranteed, right?

Not quite.

The position with the most traffic in store might well stand for the highest bounce rate and the very expensive disappointment for the product supplier.

What's the problem?

A common one is that the offer doesn’t fit to shopping missions of most passers-by. The extreme example would be putting car batteries near the counter in the gas stations. Less extreme but very likely – your product is appealing only to a niche of buyers. But even if you sell a widely popular brand your package might be inappropriate: try selling the 6-pack bundles of 2.5 litres of the most popular carbonated drinks in the world to a person in search for a quick meal (without a car). Impossible.


Qualified traffic is something else. It doesn’t take all the visitors into consideration but only those that are potentially interested in your offer. The less communications noise, the higher the conversion rate. Using qualified traffic as a measure will also heavily improve your return on investment.

So, how do you measure qualified traffic? Our in-store research of shopping paths provides many of the answers. We can analyse different shopping paths and discern the shopping missions so that a supplier / retailer can address them and secure the higher conversion to purchase rate. Much less communication noise is also guaranteed – and that is one of the tasks of the marketing that respects the customers, right?

23. 9. 2018 by Omnibus

3 Do's and 3 Don'ts of setting up displays, pallets and secondary positions in the stores (suppliers ANGLE)


  • set up your product displays too close to the store entrance (exception: if you want to impress your boss, he/she might like it a lot!)
  • take shopper footfall as a sole measure for appointing positions of your secondary displays
  • put your secondary product positions in the heavy transit places between two zones where buyers take many decisions at once (in-between such zones people need a little pause + the heavy traffic doesn't allow them to stop at your display).


  • estimate how your product fits into a particular shopping mission (top-up, quick meal, focused trip, weekly etc - our research revealed 10 of them)
  • ask yourself where is the place in the store where most relevant shopping missions for your products occur
  • define the package, size and price points of your display items in compliance with the shopping mission you want to address (want to address parents on the way home after work? do that with single packs not with bundles etc.)

A bonus: especially valuable are the shopping sub-scenarios shared by different shopper profiles - means that different shopping missions contain the same sub-scenario. One example would be: indulging yourself. No matter whether you are on a weekly trip or simple top-up, who doesn't like a little reward after all the sweat the shopping produces?

Shopping mission defines the shopper's mindset. When considering the right places for your product displays you should take that into consideration. How does my product fit into the shopping mission? Where in the store does that occur?

21. 9. 2018 by Omnibus

There is traffic and there is conversioN

Or footfall and buy in the offline stores. Suppliers fight for the best promotional positions in the supermarkets. And it is a general rule that the higher the shoppers traffic = the footfall in the zone the better and more valuable the promotional position.

The highest footfall in every store is by definition at the entrance and the counters (where the buying trip closes). But expensive promotions put to close to the entrances generally fail - as so many suppliers have learned from the painful experience. Why - if there was literally 100% of footfall?

Because the footfall alone is not enough. In the online world you can attract tens of thousands of visitors - but the bounce rate might be terrific. How many of visitors them are really willing to buy? Even more, how many of them is at least ready to listen to your offer. The same goes for the footfall in the offline stores. It's just not enough. (Not to say the footfall is what's really expensive).

During the store observations, I've noticed a huge pallet promotion with products stacked exemplary in three rows. Also communication of the benefit was simple and clear. The zone generates high traffic - being a hotspot area where most of the shopping tracks pass by. As it should be. And yet the display stayed untouched - not just for minutes, for hours, for the whole day no one noticed it. Why?

Because all the attention of the shoppers was taken elsewhere - on making decisions while searching through the huge assortment of the nearby sausages. The shoppers stopped, pushed the shopping cart aside for 70 seconds, browsed through different options, finally decided, took the sausage and completely lost the heavily loaded display.

So, footfall might be overvalued while in actuality it is shopper's potential attention that matters! With other words - the mindset! Is your product interesting to them at that right moment - are the shoppers in the right mood - does the product fit the shopping mission?

And attention is very dependent on the shopper main scenario but that's a theme for another day!

12. 9. 2018 by Omnibus


"A good store is by definition one that exposes the greatest portion of its goods to the greatest number of its shoppers for the longest period of time."

(Paco Underhill, Why To Buy, p.75)

2 points to upgrade the statement from above:

1. there are two types of product expositions

  • the ones that fit into the shopper's scenario though not necessarily previously planned (favorable)
  • the forced expositions - don't fit into the customer's scenario and seem uninteresting or even intimidating for the customer

2. there are basically two types of shopper's time in the store:

  • time of attention - shopper seeks for a solution, open for cues
  • time of transition - shopper is closed to stimuli, just trying to pass to the next category or task

A snapshot taken from the Agitron Analytics module that serves for visual representation of data collected.

6. 9. 2018 by Omnibus


7 Things We Regularly Do in Supermarkets (But Are Not Aware Of) is a little compilation of observations from the previous research of shopping paths. Actually, more of a story as told by the shopping carts.

Sip a little of that bubbling water, click on the link above and see if you can find yourself somewhere between the lines!

5. 9. 2018 by Omnibus


For the next 3 days - powerful days in terms of visitors and incidence of shopping - we'll be making field observations. In addition to the shopping cart tracking, that is. Big data should meet the small data, to complete the picture.

In the meantime here is a little article about popular football measurements (distance covered) to prove the point above: finding the actionable insights is the key.

Need your own shopping cart? No problem. You can buy it for few bucks. Just as seen on the picture above. But they are only about 10 centimetres long - used for pencils, rubbers, paperclips etc.

3. 9. 2018 by Omnibus


"Anatomically speaking, the most crucial aspect of shopping is the one that looks the simplest - the matter of how exactly human beings move. Mainly, how we walk."

This insight from Paco Underhill's Why We Buy - The Science of Shopping - could well serve as the core of our research.

Though we employ RFID technology, wireless signals, cloud solutions, analytics dashboard it is this simple fact of human behavior that lies behind our research.

This is the measurement of traffic flow, footfall and movement patterns around the store.

Let's not forget: it is not the numbers but the humans that go to stores in order to fulfil their needs and their wishes. We avoid narrow passageways, pay attention in some areas and completely skip the others.

And though the environment changes rapidly, the human beings remain attached to the responses developed in the early day of the human race.

Hunting -> the special offers, the "necessary items" ... and then go home


gathering -> picking up, checking, browsing, comparing ... and then go to the next item

are still very recognisable patterns in stores!

23. 8. 2018 by Omnibus

The coordinates measured, triangulated and put in the system.

23. 8. 2018 by Omnibus

Now, here is one particular shopping path as registered by Agitron Analytics.


  • after the entrance immediate movement to the right
  • 3 particular zones of interest marked by yellow -> shows that this is a top-up shopping mission
  • no stoppage time at the promotional area -> reveals the shopper profile, definitely not the price seeker!
  • huge area of store completely unvisited
  • the zig-zag lines - no entrance into the aisles, instead a long journey around (see explanation below)
  • two walks in each direction along the main "promotional" passageway!

22. 8. 2018 by Omnibus

Part II of the RFID beacon installation finished. 100% of the store covered.

21. 8. 2018 by Omnibus

Part I of the installation finished. Three fourths of the store covered.


One tiny little thing noticed from previous shopping path analysis.

A pattern marked by zig-zag movements at the beginning of the aisles like shown on the right.

The explanations:

1) customer searched for a particular item but couldn't find it -> navigation!


2) customer actualy browsed through the category but only at the beginning of the aisle -> consider what that means for the suppliers whose products are positioned far inside the aisle!

20. 8. 2018 by Omnibus


At the final store visit we observed:

  • the logistics of shopping carts - there are 3 main take-over points where shopping carts are collected, 1 just in front of the store entrance (most frequent) and 2 in the garage,
  • the shopping paths in the final zone
  • impact of promotional cardboard displays on the traffic flow - might be perceived as an obstacle, especially at the entrance of the narrow corridors
  • the number of the counters open vs. those closed and what is possible impact on sales

We have also agreed with the store representatives about tomorrow's installation. Early bird date!

After that the team retreated to its mobile office for a brain-storming session.

Might be also known as a nearby cafe.

18. 8. 2018 by Omnibus


In the previous months - during the project setup - I've gathered quite a database of past research that somehow connects to our own.

Here are little fun facts about our shopping behavior while using shopping carts:

  • During supermarket shopping trips we leave our shopping carts unattended only for 10% of our shopping time. Seems that we are just transferring our possesive feelings from cars - safely waiting in the parking lot outside - to the shopping carts. Carts as cars.
  • The higher the percentage of unattended shopping carts, the better is shoppers attitude towards the atmosphere in the store. This is something retailers should embrace, as the good, trustful vibe translates into size of the shopping basket itself!
  • The shopping paths in the store have some similarity to highways. We avoid heavily crowded spaces in store just as we avoid congested highways (eg. city arteries and ring roads). In case we couldn't avoid such areas, we spend less while passing them. On the other hand, we don't trust empty highways as well. Managing the store traffic has direct impact on sales, of course.

Stay tuned as we are going to add more fun facts. Some of them also hugely actionable facts, of course.

16. 8. 2018 by Omnibus


The little thing that didn't act as expected, Printed Circuits Boards, are changed. Working. The team also found the best possible way to mount the PCB's to shopping carts. Should be as unnoticeable as possible - we definitely don't want to influence the customer's behavior by our presence. In contrary.

On August 20th the team will install the RFID tags and connect it into the cloud.

Let it roll. Hooray!

10. 8. 2018 by Omnibus

A Little Thing That Doesn't Act As Expected

But! It's a rare one, remember. A project that pushes for prototype solutions. At final testing the technology failed. What went wrong? It's a detail but important one. After the Printed Circuits Boards (PCB's) have been mounted on shopping carts it was discovered that a tiny bit of copper conductors is parting away. Necessary to dismount the Printed Circuit Boards (PCB) and repair it before another test.

Yes, it's a rare research. Our little journey in the unknown. Therefore we need to improve on the field. Reminds us of an old adage: What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger. He he. It won't kill us. Definitely. We'll be pushing forward. We want to discover the rare stuff and eventually bring home the competitive advantage. Our client deserves it.

6. 8. 2018 by Omnibus

20 Full Marathons of Shopping Paths - The Setup Phase ALMOST OVER!

The set-up part is mainly done. The discussions. The pitches.

Research objectives defined. Methodology chosen. Deep-diving of the previous research (some, but not that many of the studies preceding).

The green lights from partners collected, the preliminary observations finished.

Store layout studied and zoned.

About to begin the real stuff!

July 2018 by Omnibus


  • Point-of-sale is also known as "a moment of truth" for both manufacturers and retailers. Why? Because it's the point in the sometimes long buying process where the buyer makes final decision. Will he buy the product - or not?

Research from Popai shows that up to 82% of buying decisions are made in the store just in front of the shelves - at Point-Of-Sale.

The percentage varies in accordance to the sales channel and category but nonetheless Point-Of-Sale is actually the "moment of truth". Changing its variables has huge impact on customers decisions.

"Anatomically speaking, the most crucial aspect of shopping is the one that looks the simplest - the matter of how exactly human beings move. Mainly, how we walk." (Paco Underhill, Why We Buy, 2000)

Bellow: a little technological story behind measuring the shopping paths

June 2018 by Omnibus



  • establish actionable insights that will enable our partner to optimize the positions and sales activities at Point-Of-Sale
  • connect the positions to main customer's shopping missions (weekly, top-up, snacking ...)

WHAT we measure?

  • Paths of the shopping carts in a supermarket environment
  • What zones are the most suitable for particular products, how are the products approached, the value of the positions

WHY we measure?

  • to study and analyse the patterns of shopping behavior
  • motivations behind the buying decisions


By mounting special printed circuit boards (PCB) on carts. This is very unobtrusive method which doesn't impact shopper behavior and perception at all (in contrast to some other neuromarketing tools). No individual data are being collected at any point.


  • what zones of the store are most frequented -> how does visiting time convert into spending?
  • where our client's products get the most attention (arouse interest)
  • how does attention / interest translate into buying -> conversion rates
  • the rhythm of movements and pauses while shopping and its impact on shopping basket
  • the shopping missions of the store customers
  • the patterns for the shopping missions, especially for the observed category