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Why is there no space for my trolley?

Why is there no space for my trolley?

By Geni Dee

Ever heard of the word ergonomics? If you haven’t, don’t feel bad, seems like most people who design the layout of shops in Namibia haven’t either.

“Ergonomics is the scientific discipline concerned with the understanding of interactions among humans and other elements of a system, and the profession that applies theory, principles, data and methods to design in order to optimise human well-being and overall system performance.” International Ergonomics Association

Sounds very science-sy and technical, but what is boils down to is that people need space to move and function in. It takes into account that design should be tailored around the human body.

Trust me, I get it. Renting a shop in a mall is expensive, so you need to use every available centimetre of space to try and sell your products. But, I think that some shops really need the help of a human factor consultant. If two people pushing trolleys have difficulty passing each other in the aisle of the supermarket, the rows are too close together. Seems like this should be common sense, but alas…

Determining the layout of a shop is a science on its own. It is driven by what is referred to as consumer psychology. Supermarkets and shops are manipulating us, every second of our shopping experience. Why do you think staples, such as milk and eggs are at the back, forcing you to pass the cake display? Oh and that lovely welcoming smell of fresh bread right at the entrance? Must be coincidence, I’m sure they’re not trying to lure you in. And the large SALE signs on items that were marked-up 200% to begin with?

So, if I can offer some advice, never buy the items that are placed at eye level. Those are usually the ones with the highest profit margins. Look way at the bottom or at the top to find the bargains.

Grocery stores also intentionally create a long maze through which you must weave your trolley, so that you go past as many items as possible during your shopping trip. I do enjoy shopping and I understand that it is a business that needs to make a profit, but surely if I am spending my hard-earned dollars, at least I should have enough space to actually move in?

Of course not all shops are guilty of this. I have just experienced it more often since becoming a parent. I recently had to buy a new stroller for my baby. One would think that the major consideration of this purchase would be cost. But no, it was actually figuring out if the stroller would be able to fit through the aisles of some shops when going about my retail therapy in the mall.

All I am trying to say is, if the supermarket’s application of consumer psychology is to let me feel like a cow in a cattle crush, then mission accomplished, I guess.



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