Customers like cooler doors at the grocery market

Previous studies show that grocery markets can decrease energy needs if they have doors for chilled items and adapt the shop's design and layout. In addition, the goods maintain a higher quality. However, there has been very little research in the past about how cooler doors affect the customer when it comes to shopping behaviour and experience.

"There are very many factors that affect the customer inside the store, prior to, and after the purchase of chilled goods. What I have studied is customers' shopping behaviour with and without doors," says Ulla Lindberg.

She has studied behaviour surrounding dairy products, fruits and vegetables as well as meat. It is easy to believe that the doors in front of the goods act as a barrier. But in fact, the doors lend a sense of freshness and cleanliness--things that are important experiences for consumers.

"Senses are important to customers--sight, smell and hearing. As long as the door is whole, clean and easy to open and close, it contributes positively to the impression."

In her research, Ulla Lindberg conducted observations in grocery markets as well as focus group interviews with three categories of consumers: students, middle-aged people, and retirees.

"Other factors, such as whether the goods are heavy, if they are in packaging, or if the goods are easy to find, affect the perception of cooler doors," she says.

Interdisciplinary approaches a necessity

The dissertation is unique in its interdisciplinary approach. The resource recovery part of the research is about energy efficiency--making the most of the energy and maintaining the right temperature in the right place. The retail research element consists of the fact that it is the consumer she has studied.

She tells us that the shopping situation inside a grocery market is special compared to other types of shops. Customers are largely on their own while shopping and finding goods; staff are not always nearby, even if that would be desirable. For example, service in this case may be that the customer is offered a product that is easily accessible and maintains the right temperature.

"It is important to take into account the customer when working with technology, to combine resource recovery with retail research and consumer behaviour. The retail situation in the store must be functional for the consumer and there is much left to do to increase efficiency and accessibility," says Ulla Lindberg.

Ulla Lindberg's doctoral thesis is the twentieth to be conducted within the field of Resource Recovery at the University of Borås.

The doctoral study is funded by the Swedish Retail and Wholesale Council and the Swedish Institute for Innovative Retailing (SIIR).

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Ulla Lindberg defended her doctoral thesis on 30 November 30 2018. Read the thesis here (external link)

Text Anna Kjellsson
Photo: Suss Wilén
Translation: Eva Medin