Shoppers spend 12% more money when they scan their own items - here’s why

If you use a handheld scanner while doing your weekly shop, you might be leaving the supermarket with more than you originally planned for.

New research has revealed that shoppers who use the devices spend 12 per cent more than those going through a traditional checkout. But why is that?

‘A greater sense of control’

Researchers from the University of Bath School of Management found that shoppers using a handheld scanner got a greater sense of control and a more enjoyable shopping experience.

The study also found that people using the device would spend more time in the supermarket, look at a wider selection of products and make 14 per cent more impulsive, planned purchases.

Three studies were carried out on more than 1,000 shoppers at supermarkets in Sweden between 2017 and 2019.

Researchers conducted both entrance and exit interviews, where they asked shoppers what they planned to buy, and on exit collected the shoppers receipts. The planned purchases were then compared with what they actually bought.

The researchers also used eye-tracking technology and data tracking techniques in two further studies, involving around 1,200 people.

The results of the studies were published in the Journal of Marketing.

People feel more impulsive’

Carl-Philip Ahlbom, from the University of Bath School of Management, said, “Essentially shoppers are spending more time touching products while they look for barcodes and that builds a greater sense of desire.

“People feel more impulsive and they start to enjoy their shopping trip and feel happier.

“Interestingly they also make healthier choices in what they put in their trolley, as their shopping trip becomes a more conscious process and five per cent more of their selected products are healthy.”

Professor Jens Nordfait, also from the School of Management, said, “What’s fascinating about the results is that they’re counter intuitive.

“We expect our minds to control our actions but we consistently found that when you pick up a product and spend time touching it, your actions influence how you think.

“You have to pay more attention to the product and you start to think, feel and behave differently. It’s called embodied cognition - the idea that the body influences the mind.”

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