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Customer reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
Why We Buy
Format: Paperback|Change

on 2 February 2010
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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on 7 March 2017
Needs to be read and re-read by anyone involved in retail. 2nd edition worth the investment as contains new examples, and serves as an excuse to re-read. The core messages are unchanged as they should be and will stand the test of time. Section on eCommerce still stands out as odd but more of a polemic against the internet at large than a serious interrogation of selling online.

This is a book about the wonderful nuance of shopping in stores and how retailers and manufacturers can be more in tune with this behaviour to increase sales and loyalty.
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on 16 January 2018
The master of shoppers behaviour. Paco has overseen thousands of hours of footage of people shopping to learn why we behave the way we do. Brilliant and actionable insights. Also recommend the 'Call of the Mall'.
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on 22 January 2018
Good condition
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on 27 February 2011
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.

In the global retailing chapters, Paco becomes a travel writer, with some interesting anecdotes and examples of innovative retailers, but again, no scientific basis, and not a lot of structure. There is room for a sequel here, too, and this time, Paco could easily write it himself, together with all the esteemed colleagues from Milan, Sao Paolo, Tokyo etc. he goes to great lengths to praise.

Still, on balance, this is an excellent book, and in my view, the last 4 chapters don't spoil it, they just don't do it any favours. I'm looking forward to those sequels!
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on 13 August 2010
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. Obviously that's a point of view that has more than a little substance and merit, but still compared with the rest of the book, it's a little soft.
Still on balance this book is a well justified best seller, heavy on substance but written with a light and easy touch.
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on 26 July 2013
I read this fascinating book in one sitting. Forewarned is forearmed - so this is not just for the retail trade. It also helps shoppers to understand how they are being manipulated and possibly to avoid it. As the author says, if shoppers stopped making impulse purchases the whole capitalist economy would grind to a halt. Well written, with lots of examples, it explains why stores are designed as they are, how shoppers behave and where stores should change. I've been looking at them with new eyes ever since! The book is firmly based in the USA, but the majority of findings are of universal application, and where they aren't it is pointed out. For example, throughout the world as shoppers enters a store they instinctively move to the right. Except in Britain, where they move to the left. This does not seem to be connected with driving on the left, as it is not fouhd in other countries which drive on the left. The original chapters from the first edition, concerning "real" bricks and mortar (or more likely metal panels and glass)shops, have stood the test of time, but the online world is moving so fast that these new sections added for the revised edition are already rather dated and weak. Well worth the money, I was only sorry it was not longer.
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on 4 November 2009
This is fascinating book based on solid research. If you enjoy delivering true results this book gives you a great insight into the workings of a retail consumer and why they buy. It also goes into the differentiators in the way men and women buy, which touches on some product design, store plan and merchandiser issues.

If you're a professional designer working in the retail field, this books well worth reading and having as a reference point in your armory
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on 7 January 2013
I want to love this book, I really do, but I can't help but feel Paco Underhill has taken me for a bit of a mug and instead of buying a book filled with tips for increasing business I have purchased part advertisement for envirosell and part Pacos autobiography. Sure there are some really interesting topics covered in the book but unfortunately these are intermingled with anecdotes about Pacos personal life. Worth buying but don't get your hopes up.
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VINE VOICEon 27 May 2010
Fascinating and fun, should appeal to anyone, though especially to retailers. The update with chapters on modern inernet shopping trends is very useful. I buy this regularly for my staff to read.
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