You wanted to buy a $1 pen and came back with a dozen other items for $100 and… oops you totally forgot about the pen! You thought of doing some quick shopping but ended up spending 2 hours at the store. Sound familiar? Would you like to learn how to cut down your shopping time and money and still have a pleasurable shopping experience?
Please note though that I am not referring here to pleasure shopping or window shopping. I know some of us enjoy shopping long hours. We do this once in a while when we stare and drool at eye catching transparent displays in shops and even relax somewhat while checking out 10 different milk brands on their chilling shelves. I am merely referring to the regular shopping; like that of groceries or general home items.
Fact is, shopping for household and personal items that do not require long-standing decision making should not take you longer than 30 mins! Yet many times we have taken more than a couple of hours buying nine other items not on our shopping list – that are mildly useful or completely useless.
I can relate to this because I used to spend long hours and lots of money on unnecessary item in shops. What comes to mind now is the fact that retails shops are designed to lure you to buy things. There is separate branch or retail chain management called Retail space management with its sophisticated software tools that are designed to manage retail space. The goal of any retail shop is: ‘To serve the customer better’. Or at least that’s what they tell us. But underlying that is their real goal which is: ‘To make you and me buy more!’ Every inch of a retail shop is designed for that. And boy are they ruthless. They attack you and me with their mighty weapons(adverts) and techniques(50% sales and coupons) and the poor shopper(you and me) ends up spending more time inside; leaving the store with less dollars.
So what can you do to cut down on your shopping time and money by 50% or more? To combat and reduce your time and money on regular shopping I use and recommend the following FIVE simple techniques:
1. Shopping List
On a daily basis note down the items you need. I recommend keeping a shopping list, paper, or some electronic device to capture important shopping items. Do not enter the shop without a shopping list. Never. Shopping lists will serve you as a direction map inside the shop. If you really want to buy some item outside of your shopping list ask this question first: “Can I live without this item for this week?” If the answer is no then buy it; otherwise postpone until next week’s shopping.
2. Shop once a week
To save time and money on transport do not shop more than once per week. Buy items once a week and make sure it lasts the entire week so you don’t need to waste time on weekdays for regular shopping. For perishable items like fruit and vegetables, do not buy large quantities that will last more than a week. The money you try to save by buying in bulk will be eaten up, as most of the vegetables will remain unused and rot, and likely, end up in the garbage bin.
3. Ask and you shall find
Here is the technique that will save you lot of time and some money. Inside the shop if you don’t know the location of an item, simple; ask the shop people where to find it. If it’s takes you 10 mins to find the item, asking will land you straight to the item in less than a minute. Also you won’t be tempted to buy other ‘stuff’ you happen to see when you are searching. So don’t hesitate, just ask. They shop people are actually paid to help you.
4. Buy near and save more
If there is a shop near your home choose to shop there instead of at a discount shop 10 miles away. Even if the shop close by is a bit more expensive you will end up saving on time and transport costs.
5. Promotion / Sale / Discount – Keep OFF
It is the psychology of humans to spend more on discount items than normal items. Shops know this very well and use it to their advantage. People hesitate to buy a $3.5 normal price item, but they won’t mind buying the same 3 items for $10 in a promotion. Yes you saved few cents per item with the promotion. But on the whole you spend $6.5 more and the truth is you may never use all the three items you purchase. Buy on promotion only if you really need the item. Don’t buy items on promotion just for the sake of it.
Start using one or two of the above techniques mentioned and you will soon see the impact on your watch and wallet. I would love to get your feedback and experiences upon implementation of the same. Let’s help another shopper.
Cheers – Jag.