The Walkaway Problem: How to Drive Conversion, Shopper Retention, and Bigger Baskets

April 22, 2024

By Gram Bowsher, President, Head of Client Consulting, NAILBITER 

How do I prevent shoppers from leaving my store and going to my competitors?

This question is likely one you’ve gotten from your buyers, category managers, and clients as retailers take an increasingly critical look at understanding leakage and protecting dollar spend.

Some obvious culprits come to mind when discussing leakage and walkaway. Prices are too high. There aren’t enough deals/sales. Theft-prevention tools have gone too far. While all of these likely play a factor, there are other, solvable challenges to address.

The Importance of Shopability

At Nailbiter, I spend a lot of time digging into key metrics that we’ve validated as vital to driving retail and brand success. One of those metrics is Shopability, a measure of shopper satisfaction with retail experience.

There are three components to Shopability:

  • Findability (can the shopper easily find what they’re looking for?)
  • Organization (is the aisle organized in an intuitive and easy-to-navigate manner?), and
  • Variety/Assortment (does the assortment strike the right balance between enough choices but not too overwhelming?).

In a vacuum, Shopability is a great metric to understand retailer and planogram performance. When paired with Conversion/Walkaway rates, its power is truly revealed. In the chart below, you’ll see a strong, positive relationship between improved Shopability scores and higher Conversion rates. In other words, as shoppers have a more positive shopping experience, they become less likely to Walkaway. We also see that improved Shopability can lead to larger basket sizes when shelves are effective at driving cross-category purchasing.

Common Shopability Challenges & Solutions

Driving positive Shopability goes beyond the “usual suspects” — price, sales/deals, etc. Signage, adjacencies, marketing, and more can all be leveraged to improve the shopper experience. Below are a few examples of possible Shopability challenges that research may uncover and how they could be addressed to maximize Conversion. With any of these, it’s critical to do the research to pinpoint the exact challenge and then validate potential solutions.

Shopability in Action

Shopability is a sensitive and responsive metric. Planogram shifts, new products on shelf, and POS/marketing all can impact how shoppers perceive their shopping experience. As such, best-in-class category management and shopper insights teams actively monitor Shopability across their key categories and retailers to provide proactive feedback and guidance on performance. A category tracker is a valuable tool to maintain this cadence of feedback — fielding research 2-3 times per year, around critical time periods (POG resets, innovation launches, peak seasons) offers an “always-on” view of category evolution and drives thought-leadership on what matters most for shoppers.

Additionally, it’s important to think of shopability beyond the in-store experience. As more and more shoppers go online for additional categories, driving positive eComm experiences is just as important as winning in-store. In fact, an argument can be made that winning online is even more critical as the hurdles to leaking online are much lower. It is far easier to click away to another retailer’s site while shopping online than to leave a store empty-handed and travel to a different store. As shoppers move into a true omnichannel world, providing a positive, connected experience between in-store and online is where tomorrow’s winners will be made.

Looking Forward

Walkaway and leakage will continue to be a challenge for retailers, category managers, and manufacturers. As shoppers become more and more sensitive to the in-store experience and convenient alternatives continue to emerge online, proactivity and ongoing maintenance of the shopper experience is critical to driving Conversion. The category captains, thought-leaders, and growth-drivers of the future will make Shopability their currency.