(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
I’m a big fan of Paco Underhill and his best-selling book Why We Buy; the
science of shopping. One of the simple lessons he shares there, and which has
proven itself time after time, is the simple science of “adding a
I’m allergic (figuratively, not really) to the fruits and
vegetables isle of the supermarket. While I enjoy grocery shopping and spending
time with the family, spending 15 minutes between tomatoes, carrots and celery
has me eagerly and anxiously waiting to move along and start getting to the
parts of the store where I can actually, you know, buy stuff.
imagine that near the fruits and veggie section there would be someplace to sit.
Imagine that, as Paco puts it aptly in the book, “When people go shopping in two
or threes, with spouses or friends along for the trip, seating is what keeps the
non-shopping party comfortable and contented and cared for and off of the
Now, they may find a way to purposefully make the seating
such that it would be a bit uncomfortable after five to 10 minutes, much like
fast-food restaurants do. They’d do this because instead of people coming and
going, one lonely person might start using it for a few hours each day, not
exactly what the store would appreciate.
But then again, in a jewelry
shop, or at a trade show, wouldn’t having someplace for people to sit and rest
their feet while they look at the merchandise attractively displayed around the
seating be a good thing? Giving people a place to put down their
-filled bags, or store them in a secure locker while they walk the
floor and shop, for that matter, might be something that would attract people to
come, stay longer, share their information and visit again?
When you think about
the wisdom behind seating, where it is and why it is placed in the surroundings
it is, you start to become aware that it’s not just random. It’s planned. Things
take on a new meaning about why that type of chair exists at that place and why
it helps (or on occasion hurts!) profitability.
The reason many malls
have a waterfall near the seating is not just because it’s inviting to see the
waterfall; it’s also because the husbands can use their cellphones to make calls
in the privacy of the water sounds. Waterfalls act as “white noise,” blocking
out conversations nearby. Knowing the environment means there’s no eavesdropping
going on while the wives shop allows the husband the opportunity to conduct his
business as well. It also keeps his mind on his phone call and not on the
charges being racked up on his credit-card bill while he’s sitting and
In copywriting, something I do for clients, is to practice what
I’ve billed as the “give a chair” method of keeping people reading along. It
means simply always provide a smile, a nugget of extra value and hooks of joyful
insight to keep the environment one in which it is a pleasure to be in.
actually bought sturdy, fancy new chairs. My old chairs were not “dream chairs.”
Will the new chairs encourage people to sit longer? Will it affect the number of
referrals? Testimonials? I certainly hope so. I’m banking on it. Yep, I’ll be
keeping an eye out to see how people react. And who knows? Maybe I’ll put back
the old ones if people start sitting for too long in the new
Always test things and see what seemingly insignificant tweaks
you could make, and see how they make a difference. There’s a reason Walt Disney
has two trash cans between benches instead of one, and why they don’t sell gum
at Disney. Because those two small tweaks lower maintenance and cleaning costs
tremendously! People don’t throw gum on the floor and they don’t throw trash on
the floor because the trash can is just a few steps away at any given time from
any location you might be standing in.
Tweak something in your business,
anything. Just test. You might uncover something so stunningly simple that
you’ll be amazed it took you this long to do it. And let me know how it goes. I
look forward to your insights and sharing them with others. Thank