For our group assignment we decided to observe the retail store Best Buy. The purpose of
this assignment was to observe customers and their shopping behaviors and techniques. After
finding a manager to ask for permission to observe the stores customers our group got together
and went to the Christiansburg store. We chose Best Buy because we felt that it was a popular,
large, nationwide well known retail store. We also felt Best Buy was the best choice because
they carry a wide variety of products and bring in a large customer base.
After walking into Best Buy and observing customers shopping habits and shopping
techniques, we have come up with some observations that describe the way these individuals like
to shop. Normally at Best Buy, people don’t use shopping carts. The only time people really
needed something to carry items with is if they were purchasing something too large and heavy
to carry with their hands, like TV’s or the more larger home appliances. It appeared with what
we had observed, people normally walked right into the store and found what they wanted
immediately. The customers had traveled to Best Buy for a few specific items. On occasion we
did find a random person who just came in to browse what the store had to offer. The people we
found doing this normally didn’t buy anything, they just looked around to see if anything caught
their eye. If they did buy something, it normally ended up being a CD or a DVD. Those people
who didn’t know exactly what they wanted spent a good amount of time slowly walking down
the aisles, occasionally stopping to pick up a CD to read the back to see if anything intrigued
them on it. Often times the sole purpose of these customers coming into the store because they
were interested in testing out the different video game consoles to see which one suited those
Shoppers would also come into the store with a brand name in mind. They would be holding
a catalog that was sent out in the mail with a certain brand being advertised on it. Then the
shopper would look at the different types for that brand, for example, the many different brands
of Samsung television sets.
Section B and C:
When the customer we would be observing would pick up a product, they would
normally pick it up to observe the packaging of it, looking for any cracks in a CD case or any
tears in a box. If there was even the slightest crack or rip, they would put the product down and
looking for a better packaged one. We found it odd that when a shopper would pick up a CD and
would hold it in their hand, they would touch the front of the package gently. We were not quite
sure why people were doing this; it seemed as if the shopper was smoothing out the wrapper to
keep the glare from the lights from reflecting to make it easy to read what was on the case. The
shopper would normally hold the product in their hand for about a minute, maybe even a little
longer. If they found something they actually liked they would just hold it in their hand and
walk away with it and normally head straight to a cash register.
The first observation we made was when we walked through the front door there was a
man, probably in his late teens, possibly early twenties wearing a bulky jacket and hat. He picked
up a comic book DVD that was positioned in a vertical display at the front of the store. He
looked at the front for about thirty seconds and turned it to the back. He proceeded to read the
information about the movie on the back flipping it back over and finally after a total of about
two minutes returned it to the display. Later while observing throughout the store I watched him
try out a Play station three game.
The second observation that I made was a man in his early twenties (most likely a college
student), wearing a red collared polo shirt and jeans. He was demoing a new Play station three
golf game. He seemed to really enjoy it because he played it for at least fifteen minutes while we
were watching and he was there before we got there. He then grabbed his drink and proceeded
over to the aisle that they sell the actual game and got a Best Buy Representative so that he could
The third observation that we had was an older man approximately in his fifties. He had
shaggy salt and pepper colored hair, wearing a gray NASCAR t-shirt and jeans. He attempted to
demo Rock Band. In Rock Band one can play the drums, guitar, or Microphone (sing). He tried
to play the drums. After failing the same song twice at the drums he got up and walked away.
The fourth observation that I saw was a man in his late twenties that was interested in
cameras. He was interested in affordable, yet quality cameras. He spoke to the representative for
about fifteen minutes while I was there, but it seemed like he had been browsing and collecting
information from the employee for quite a while before I started to observe. After deliberation
and conversing with his girlfriend they settled on a Nikon Coolpix camera in black.
The fifth observation was a man in a suit probably in his early to mid-thirties. He was
looking at the I-phone. He held it in his hand for at least fifteen minutes and examined the
different applications and features that it had. Based on his business apparel and the fact that he
was quite interested in the email features the iphone had, we concluded that he was a business
man. After he held it in his hand for quite a while he proceeded to find a representative to buy
the I-Phone and inquire about it.
After making these specific observations and collecting information we came to a few
conclusions. We noticed that older customers utilized employees more frequently to find a
product than younger customers. Also, younger customers tended to be more hands on with the
product. We fell this occurs because the older customer is more likely to ask questions when
compared to the younger customer. Another reason for this is because older customers do not
connect to some of the technology and video games as easy as the younger customers. Younger
customers have been more accustomed to the new technology and it comes to them as second
nature. As in the case with the man in his fifties: He seemed to never have played Rock Band
before so most likely this was the reason why he couldn’t finish playing a song without losing.
Whereas the man in his early twenties playing the new Playstation three golf game seemed to
pick it up quickly and enjoyed demoing it for quite a while. I don’t think that in this style of
product the amount of touching it would persuade the customer to buy it. I think their knowledge
and the quality of the product is much more important with this technology. Although, usually
the longer the person demoed the product or inquired about it; they usually decided to buy it. It
also seemed that there were more men than women in this store, and the only women that I
encountered were with their significant others. Also, they seemed to be tagging along for the trip;
one woman in her forties picked up a controller to demo one of the games and within about thirty
seconds decided against it and put it back down. I think that the age and gender had a huge factor
in this store. The main customers that actually tested out the products were contemplating to
purchase an item were generally between their late teens to middle aged men.
As potential shoppers entered Best Buy, they seemed to not even notice any type of
shopping cart or bag that was offered by the retailer. Instead, most shoppers just walked in and
went straight to the section of the store where they either knew or thought where their product
would be. Often times Best Buys customers are purchasing an item bigger than the size of a
normal shopping cart. The retailer provides the service for you of putting the item you’ve
purchased in your car for you. Another reason why customers may not use shopping carts is
because their reasoning for being in the store is to compare prices with other retailers; therefore
they have no intentions of making purchases. Overall we expected customers to go shopping at
this store for a specific item which didn’t require them to have a shopping cart.
Regarding the speed of shoppers, faster walkers tended to buy more than slower ones.
The faster shoppers would go to one part of the store, pick up what they needed, and then head to
a different section of the store for another item, usually an accessory to the first. The slower
shoppers seemed to be only “window shopping.” Though the slower shoppers did not purchase
as much as faster shoppers, they seemed to be more hands on with the items they were looking
at. This showed that the faster shoppers knew what they wanted before they even entered Best
Buy, went to that section of the store, and made the purchase.
The retailer incorporates many different aspects to try and stimulate their customers to
buy merchandise from their store. The store is located in a strip mall next to many other
retailers, restaurants and a mall. The location is very convenient for a specialty store such as
Best Buy. When shoppers go to Best Buy they usually already have in mind what they are
looking for. This is true for many specialty stores. The retailer’s main goal is for customers to
One way Best Buy stimulates shoppers to purchase their merchandise is by gaining their
customers trust. This is done by their outstanding customer service system. A return policy and
knowledgeable staff of employees are just two ways the retailer’s customer service is inviting for
shoppers to make purchases.
Best Buy has a very flexible return policy that appeals to most shoppers. Customers are
more likely to make a purchase when they are comfortable knowing that if for whatever reason
once they get home the item does not satisfy their needs they can bring it back to the store. For
the holidays, when gift buying for others is popular, customers will make purchases knowing that
the person whom the gift is for has an option of keeping the item or returning it for something
they may like more. Also, Best Buy provides their customers the ability to bring back an item if
once you open the packaging you see a defect or if something is broken. When it comes to
installing, building and setting up some of the electronic devices that Best Buy sells it can be
complicated for a customer who is not very familiar with the item to do it themselves. The
retailer provides the shopper the option of having it installed by a professional.
Best Buy’s employees strive to be helpful and knowledgeable about their merchandise.
This is important because when purchasing complex electronics, the customers receives all the
useful information that is needed before the purchase. Once you walk into the store you are
politely greeted and asked if you need any assistance. Best Buy’s customers usually come into
the store knowing the type of electronic they need. The employees give you advice and
suggestions about which is the best brand or style to meet your needs. Often shoppers may come
in looking for a particular item and once they’ve spoken to a knowledgeable employee they
purchase other items. For example, if a customer wants to purchase a recording device a staff
member might suggest a camera with a recording feature. The employee’s helpfulness leads
customers to purchase merchandise with assurance.
Another way Best Buy stimulates its customers is by providing interactivity with the
merchandise. The store has many visuals and examples of its merchandise for customers to try
out. When considering purchasing an expensive electronic, most shoppers feel more confident
touching and using the item they are interested in buying. Best Buy not only allows its customers
to have a “hands on” experience while in the store but they encourage their customers to check
out their products for themselves. The inviting environment the retailer offers makes shoppers
feel comfortable and therefore willing to make a purchase.
Best Buy offers a quality product and great customer service. One area where we feel
they could improve on is their ability to finalize potential sales. While in the store making
observations we found that many customers were coming to Best Buy simply to gain information
from the knowledgeable staff or demo products. Between their outstanding customer service and
interactivity with the merchandise shoppers tend confident about making purchases at Best Buy.
“Get out and do it” Section:
When looking at the store layout, design and visual merchandising techniques they are all
consistent with the store location and exterior. The stores décor has a very modern feel to it
which is good considering that it Best Buy is selling the most up to date electronics. Customers
that are coming in to this store are looking for the newest and greatest products. This company
presents itself in a manner that ensures the customer that they are going to get the most modern
and up-to-date electronics. This Best Buy location looks newly renovated because this shopping
center was only built about a year ago. Since Best Buy is a chain store there isn’t much
flexibility in the layout and design of the store. The company wants their customer to be able to
walk in to any Best Buy store all over the country and see the same thing and same layout. The
store is very bright and warehouse like. The way you decorate creates feelings, and by making
the store look like a warehouse subconsciously makes people believe that they are getting a good
deal. You can see the beams and light sockets. It has a very new smell like it hasn’t been used,
almost like the electronics themselves. Best Buy’s signage is very clean, bold, and eye catching.
When you see blue and yellow writing you think Best Buy. Throughout the store they place
different products that you can test out, anywhere from TV’s to Wii’s. This creates a hands-on
environment encouraging customers to buy products. Best Buy’s layout has a good flow but also
allows people to wander at their own pace. All of the wall space is covered with display
merchandise and unopened inventory. The type of layout that best buy utilizes is good for their
target market and product category. During the time we were observing the store there wasn’t a
manager available to speak with us, with that said it seems that the sales floor is used to its fullest
and gaining the best profit it can. They wouldn’t tell us there sales per square foot or anything
like that, understandably. With our economy the way it is the last thing most of our country is
thinking about is new electronics. When you look around the store the merchandise is laid out in
what seems like a weird way but when you really think about it makes sense. Merchandise is
grouped together with things that are used with it, such as TV’s are right by DVDs and DVD
players. Then right next to that are Wii’s and other game attachments.
After analyzing our observations, we have found that there are many different types of
shopping patterns. Best Buy is definitely one of the leading retailers in the electronics industry.
Even with the economy being as low as it is, Best Buy still manages to pull in a solid amount of
customers every day. Based on their exceptional customer service, the knowledgeable
employees help the customers find exactly what they are looking for!