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An Exploratory Look at Supermarket Shopping Paths

International Journal of Research in Marketing, April 2005

43 Pages Posted: 16 May 2005  

Jeffrey S. Larson

University of Pennsylvania - Marketing Department

Eric Bradlow

University of Pennsylvania - Marketing Department

Peter Fader

University of Pennsylvania - Marketing Department

Abstract

We present analyses of an extraordinary new dataset that reveals the path taken by individual shoppers in an actual grocery store, as provided by RFID (radio frequency identification) tags located on their shopping carts. The analysis is performed using a multivariate clustering algorithm not yet seen in the marketing literature that is able to handle data sets with unique (and numerous) spatial constraints. This allows us to take into account physical impediments (such as the location of aisles and other inaccessible areas of the store) to ensure that we only deal with feasible paths. We also recognize that time spent in the store plays an important role, leading to different cluster configurations for short, medium, and long trips. The resulting three sets of clusters identify a total of 14 "canonical path types" that are typical of grocery store travel, and we carefully describe (and cross-validate) each set of clusters These results dispel certain myths about shopper travel behavior that common intuition perpetuates, including behavior related to aisles, end-cap displays, and the "racetrack." We briefly relate these results to previous research (using much more limited datasets) covering travel behavior in retails stores and other related settings.

Keywords: RFID (radio frequency identification), clustering techniques, exploratory analysis, retailing, shopping behavior, k-medoids clustering

Suggested Citation

Larson, Jeffrey S. and Bradlow, Eric and Fader, Peter, An Exploratory Look at Supermarket Shopping Paths. International Journal of Research in Marketing, April 2005. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=723821

Jeffrey S. Larson (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania - Marketing Department ( email )

700 Jon M. Huntsman Hall
3730 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6340
United States
215-898-2268 (Phone)

Eric Bradlow

University of Pennsylvania - Marketing Department ( email )

700 Jon M. Huntsman Hall
3730 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6340
United States
215-898-8255 (Phone)

Peter Fader

University of Pennsylvania - Marketing Department ( email )

700 Jon M. Huntsman Hall
3730 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6340
United States

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