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Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping Paperback – 30 Dec 2008

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Product details

  • Paperback: 306 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Upd Rev edition (30 Dec 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416595244
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416595243
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2 x 21.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 102,865 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"At last, here is a book that gives this underrated skill the respect it deserves." -- "The New York Times"

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Christian Erlandsson on 2 Feb 2010
Format: Paperback
First let me give you some information about the context in which I read this book. I am starting out small in e-commerce and in doing so I'm reading up on just about anything that can give me some ideas or knowledge. This book caught my eye and I thought I'd give it a try.

For "normal" retailing this book must be solid gold - having read it I now constantly find myself thinking about signage, store layout, point-of-sale location, clerk density, etc. This is something I never did before and it is now obvious even to me that a lot of stores absolutely misses out on basics. The book is easy to read and provides a good mix between anecdotes and principles. The book is well structured and it feels like it covers just about every area in retail you can think about in a well researched way.

The book's weak point, by a landslide, are the chapters on Internet and global retailing. These chapters seem added in a rush and feel like they have been forced into the book by the publisher just to get a "new edition" out in bookstores. The opinions stated in the Internet chapter in particular seem counterintuitive, poorly backed up and downright uninformed. E-commerce as a whole has not improved since 2000? Amazon (and Internet retailers in general) does not provide good recommendations for their users? I might be overreacting slightly given my context as a reader, but I was almost bemused by the poor quality of these chapters in comparison with the rest of the book.

I'd rather not have read the latter chapters because I think they tarnish an otherwise excellent book. In the end though I certainly recommend this book to anyone interested in retailing or business.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Maarten de Vries on 27 Feb 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An excellent book, both for retail experts, who need to go back to the basics, and for complete newbies, who need to start there. I'm somewhere in between and, for me, there were three great themes running through this book...

Firstly, it explains, with many great examples, how tiny things can make a huge difference. Of course, this idea is well known, as the butterfly effect, tipping point etc, but it's so beautifully visible in retail. They don't say "retail is detail" for nothing!

Secondly, it shows that, while most of these details are common sense, they are still being missed all the time, because you simply can't see them in the Board Room. You have to go on to the Shop Floor and see what's happening on the ground. That goes for all industries, but again, it's so visible in retail, and Paco has all the examples to prove it.

Lastly, Paco's book, which includes a lot on his personal life, shows that true dedication leads to true expertise, and there's just no beating true expertise! Yes, as a previous reviewer points out, he does use the whole book to advertise his company, but, in my opinion, there's no harm in demonstrating that you're good at what you do. How else will people know about it?

Having said that, I agree with other reviewers, that the last 4 chapters, about the Internet and global retailing, are a bit disappointing, after you've read the first 16. In the Internet chapter, Paco expresses some interesting opinions, but it lacks the scientific basis that gives the book its subtitle, and doesn't really answer the big question: how bricks and clicks will co-exist in the future. Perhaps Paco should write a sequel with someone, who knows clicks as well as he (Paco) knows bricks.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Loubee on 13 Aug 2010
Format: Paperback
Paco Underhill's book about shopping is a really entertaining read and full of interesting nuggets. I was reading it from the perspective of someone who is professionally involved in "shopper marketing" (to use the latest buzzword) but I honestly think even if you were not but had any interest in the psychology of shopping, it would still have much to recommend itself.
For a start, it is very engagingly written and easy to digest which is not always the case with texts based on market research, and lacks the pomposity of some of the other authors on this subject.
The topics covered range from the difference between the way men and women shop, to the way people navigate round stores, to the placement of products on shelf - all pretty fundamental stuff if you are involved in retail in any way, but fascinating even if you are not. Most of the chapters are peppered with anecdotes sourced from Underhill's long experience carrying out in store "tracking" of customers, which really bring the subject to life.
I nearly gave this five stars but docked one, perhaps a little meanly, on the basis of two things.
One is the underlying, though understandable and forgivable, sell that Underhill is making for his company Envirosell (there I've given it a plug!) and his company's approach to measuring shopper behaviour. Which is laudable but impractical for much of the market research world, dependent as it is on highly skilled and highly trained observers.
The other is the fact, as other reviewers mention, that the last couple of chapters are definitely weaker than the rest of the book. In my view, this is because the bulk of the book does draw heavily on actual observations and experience, whereas the latter chapters are largely based on Paco Underhill's point of view.
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