Guest blog from the lovely Vicky Powell – Retail Biz Queen

I love to shop, for business and recreation and after working in the retail industry for over 20 years, and being paid to go shopping and spend other peoples’ money, you would think I would never fall for the psychological tricks that retailers to do customers!

Well last week was a prime example of how I fell for such trickery! And I’m kicking myself at how I fell for it!

I had a little trip to a local retail park – It was a research trip to look at the discount sector for a project I’ve been working on for a client, and whilst there, I needed to buy my nephew a toy art easel and some colouring markers. All very normal you might think, pop in, conduct my research, pick up 2 items and then be out within 20 minutes. What happened was very different!

I strolled the store, with my trolley (always much easier when “spying” to have a prop or two, i.e. basket or trolley, and I like to take pics on my phone and pretend I’m looking at a shopping list!)  So off I sauntered down the aisles, making notes, taking pictures for my client, AND throwing in biscuits, snacks for the kids packed lunch, shampoo, crisps, a sandwich, a lamp, a doormat…. well you can see from the pic! I spent £62! I checked my watch and I’d been in the store for 40 minutes!

So what went wrong? Well the items I bought aren’t a disaster, I did need lunchbox drinks, shampoo etc, and I have left feeling like I’ve got a bagful of bargains, but I’m a little surprised that I flippantly threw so many un-necessary items in the trolley….. knowing that I didn’t need most of them!

So here’s how they did it and how I fell for it…

1. Make it easy for the customers to shop.

Plenty of LARGE trolleys were parked outside the store. Easy to grab, free to use. The heavy wire baskets were located inside the shop, rather discreetly hidden. Why? To encourage customers to grab a trolley, and, once you have a trolley, you tend to fill it! You have to provide customers with a vessel to put their shopping in ( even Claire’s accessories give you a little basket!)

2. Large, easy to see prices.

In this image, bright yellow shelf talkers are used…and if you zoom in closely you will see there is a comparison to the RRP price. This information is talking to your subconscious… you read that the price is 30% below RRP and instantly feel reassured that everything else in the store must be good value. The prices are easy to see, there is confidence in the price signage.


3. Authoritative displays 

These crisps may not be the most exciting products, but you certainly know that the retailer sells crisps! There is huge conviction in the display and by doing this, again, the retailer is telling the customer that they are “IN” the snack business and ARE good value… buy them here, you don’t need to pop to Tesco! And do you know what? It worked…I bought 2 huge multipacks! Yum!


4. Neat, tidy displays with strategic key pricing on the displays.

The T shirt display is a piled high, sell it cheap tactic, but the signage and tidy display instill confidence in the displays and consequently the quality. The customer thinks, it may be cheap but the retailer has taken care of the display, neat folding and the stack is easy to shop with clear sizing labels.


The branded displays in this picture show key price marks on top brands eg coca cola, Colgate, Dove. As with the first point, the retailer is telling the customer that they are great value on well known brands….therefore hinting that they are great value on everything in the store (even if they arent). The customer trusts the retailer and believes this… adding more shopping to their basket or trolley!


So how can you adopt all of this in your business? Be authoritative, create great displays, shout about your prices. Keep displays neat, tidy and uncluttered, and even if you have just one key line that is incredible value….. dual display this in your store or across your website and tell the customer how much it is. The subconscious is very powerful, and tricks generating sales patterns like this can build up over time and the customer creates a perception of your brand and your business from gathering all of this evidence from historical trips to your store.

I recommend to my clients that they always visit the discounters as well as the luxury brands, to spot the tricks used in each market sector. They use a very simple method of retail, purely based on price and value.

For more information or to book a free discovery call with me to see how I can help your business, please visit


Vicky Powell is the Retail Business Queen. After a 20 year career in retail buying, employed at several multi national retailers, Vicky now runs her own consultancy and training business; training, teaching and supporting small retail and product businesses in all things retail. Vicky teaches the tricks of the trade, ultimately how to increase your sales and profit in your business.