Investing and business books are complicated. Picture doodles are not.


Customer anthropology involves watching how customers naturally interact with the store, but without their knowledge that they are being observed.

Key questions to consider include:

1. Who are your customers: age, sex, size, time of day, attire, and their needs

2. What are they thinking of in a certain area of the store, and are there adjacencies or cross-selling opportunities

3. How can you remove barriers and make the customer experience easier and more pleasant


1. The longer the shopper remains in a store, the more he or she will buy.

This is influenced by how comfortable and enjoyable the experience is. A customer may leave a store prematurely due to an unpleasant experience like being bumped or jostled by other customers. This is known as the 'butt-brush' effect.

Sometimes unpleasant experiences can be remediated. In this example, it may involve increasing aisle space or reorganizing sales displays to give adequate room.

2. The more employee-customer contact, the greater the average sale

While greater employee-customer contact can drive sales, customers should not be smothered. From the time a customer enters a store, the customer should not be greeted too early before the customer has regained their bearings, but not too late either. Sometimes a simple 'hello' will do.

3. Impressions from signs

Signs should be designed so they are readable under less than ideal circumstances. Most signs:

  • Will only be glimpsed for several seconds
  • Are viewed at an angle while the customer is in motion
  • Are interrupting customers while they are in the middle of doing something else

To accommodate this:

  • The message should be in an appropriate place
  • The number of words limited based on the situation
  • The sign interrupts natural sight lines

In addition, power displays, like a horizontal bank of sweaters or a large number of items, can serve as a large billboard and as a barrier to slow shoppers down just inside the door.

4. Adjacencies and cross-selling

This is placing one item next to another that causes sales of one or both. This involves thinking of what else will be on the customers' mind, and what else they will need.


1. Ease of product access on shelving

Product shelving should be tailored to customers who use them. Young people can get products wherever they are stocked, but old people and children can't.

The most popular brands are dead-centre, while brands that are being promoted are to the right. Eye to knee level is the zone where customers will likely see the merchandise. Above or below this you will only see the product if you are looking intently. A remedy may include displaying only large items only above or below the zone.

Product packaging should be like a sign that is visible from any angle.

2. Customers walk straight, and displays should accomodate this

Displays at end of store aisles, called endcaps, are exposed to shoppers eyes since we approach them straight on. By comparison, store window displays should be tilted to the left in order to be viewable when driving or walking straight by. For store shelves, placing them on an angle like sergeants stripes, called chevroning, is done so more of what they hold is visible.

3. Baskets

Humans are limited by what they can carry in their hands - without a basket, a customer may only be able to carry and buy two items. Sometimes people enter a store thinking they are not going to buy much, but later realize that they want to buy more after picking up two items.

For this reason, baskets should be placed in strategic locations throughout the store, not just the entrance. Employees should be trained to offer baskets when customers are holding two or three items.