How to increase sales;
Published online: Nov 9th 2006;
From The print edition;
How shops can exploit people's herd mentality to increase sales;
1. The shops sell only the most popular items in each product category, and the rankings are updated weekly.
2. At a recent conference on the simulation of adaptive behaviour in Rome,, a computer scientist from the Florida Institute of Technology,if a certain product is seen to be popular, shoppers are likely to choose it too. The challenge is to keep customers informed about what others are buying.
3. Enter smart-cart technology. In Mr Usmani's supermarket every product has a radio frequency identification tag, a sort of barcode that uses radio waves to transmit information, and every trolley has a scanner that reads this information and relays it to a central computer. As a customer walks past a shelf of goods, a screen on the shelf tells him how many people currently in the shop have chosen that particular product. If the number is high, he is more likely to select it too.
4. Mr Usmani's “swarm-moves” model appeals to supermarkets because it increases sales without the need to give people discounts. And it gives shoppers the satisfaction of knowing that they bought the “right” product-that isand testing will get under way in the spring.
5. Another recent study on the power of social influence indicates