Most people have witnessed or experienced walking into a store for something specific only to reach the checkout with arms full of extras. It’s no wonder this happens, considering how people find what they need in a store. CivicScience recently polled more than 2,500 U.S. adults and discovered that 51% simply browse the aisles until they find what they need. A little more than one-quarter say they ask an associate to help them locate an item, and even fewer use information on a store’s website or app to find the exact location of a product.

This is the case for all age groups, although younger shoppers use online information more frequently than those in older age groups. Only 12% of those 55 and older will access aisle and department data on a store’s website or app before showing up in person. Using a store’s app while in the store is even less common, with more than half of survey respondents rarely or never doing so. 

Wayfinding looks generally the same for Target shoppers and Walmart shoppers, Costco shoppers and Sam’s Club shoppers, all of whom look for products in roughly the same way as the Gen Pop. But, factoring in a person’s occupation reveals a few differences. Service workers over-index in likelihood to browse aisles until they find what they came for. Sales and operations workers  – as well as those considered craftsmen or laborers – are significantly more likely than those in other occupations to speak with a sales associate to find a product.

Not everybody who enters a store intends to make a purchase. Seventy-two percent of consumers have visited a store to see a product in person only to purchase it online from a different retailer. Most consumers say they have done this once or twice, but for 20%, this is a frequent occurrence.

This makes the pre-store process of wayfinding important. How much legwork do customers put in before heading out to a store? Price comparison is the most common practice. Shoppers also research similar products and check whether or not what they want is in stock before taking a trip out. Product reviews are an important part of the pre-store wayfinding process too, but not before general product research.

Checkout clerks probably don’t need to ask customers if they found what they were looking for – if they made it to the checkout, they almost certainly did. Plus a few extras.

Want to know more insights into how your customers approach the in-store shopping experience? Contact us for an InsightStore demo today.