A lukewarm welcome

11Dec08

In most parts of the country, temperatures tend to be on the colder side during the peak of holiday shopping. And if what I saw last weekend was any indication, highs in the mid-20s won’t do much to deter people from getting their shopping done. Yet besides turning on the heat, most stores aren’t doing enough to thank people for braving the cold and coming through their doors.

I’m not talking about discounts or coupons here. Rather, I’m referring to simple things like having hot coffee or light snacks available for weary shoppers during the winter. Sure, Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s always have coffee on hand, but they’re also interested in getting you to buy that same coffee on the next aisle. For non-grocery retailers, the trick is to show that something like hot coffee translates to longer shopping trips and more sales.

Wouldn’t this be hard to prove? Not really. Just set up a split test where half of the test stores have hot coffee available, and the other half don’t offer anything of the sort. And make sure the entire test group is evenly matched, e.g. every store is in a northern state if you believe that cold weather is a key factor. Though I can’t speak for any actual data, my guess is that a simple and cheap enhancement like free coffee in the winter would pay for itself many times over.



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