Many retailers believe that when they pile a lot of stuff around their store, this cluttered look encourages shoppers to hunt for items and eventually buy more. Dollar General recently raised the height of its shelves to more than six feet; J. C. Penney transformed empty walls into jewelry and accessory displays; Old Navy added lanes lined with items like water bottles, candy, and lunchboxes. Best Buy is even testing the impact of filling aisles with bulky items like Segways and bicycles to compensate for the smaller space that thin TVs and smaller speakers take up. Walmart recently did an abrupt about-face: The Company only recently remodeled its stores by eliminating the pallets of items it used to stack in the centers of aisles, and it reduced overall inventory by about 9%. Customers loved the leaner, cleaner look. Only one problem: They bought less stuff. As a senior Walmart executive commented, “They loved the experience. They just bought less. And that generally is not a good long-term strategy.” Now, Walmart is adding inventory back in and is once again piling stacks of merchandise in aisles. What is your take on these store-stocking strategies? Visit several “big-box” stores in your area, such as Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Costco, and so on. If possible, interview shoppers about their experiences. Do they have trouble navigating around the store? Do they enjoy the clutter? Does it feel like a “treasure hunt” when they have to pick their way around piles and pallets? If you were designing a store, how would you craft a stocking strategy that would make it easy to shop there?
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