Why do people still go shopping rather than using the internet all the time? After all, the internet is normally quicker and your local shopping centre can never hope to have as many brands as you can find using your PC or tablet. It’s partially a social thing - we like to meet up with friends have something to eat and a chat. While we are shopping it’s a tactile thing - holding the item (or even smelling it!) as this reinforces the fact that it is real and of good quality. Retailers know this and try to lure us in with bright signage and interesting aromas. Once we have purchased our items we sit down with our friends over a drink and compare our purchases hoping for compliments or praise.

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When we are shopping on the internet we have none of this sensory feedback, apart from maybe a few flashing banners. We have to trust what the retailer has told us about the item and trust that what they say is true even down to the dimensions. This is difficult, and why some people will go to the shop see the product and then buy it on the internet.

If we are like this when shopping for clothes then consider how people  behave when looking at millions of pounds, euros or dollars of sales figures and inventory items.  Just like when internet shopping, we are compelled to trust the numbers and words we see on the screen even though there is much more at stake, the money is not in a safe somewhere or the inventory may be 1000’s of miles away. This is even more important when we talk of fully optimized supply chains where stock is kept to the bare minimum.



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We solve this problem of trust by working in groups and comparing against known facts we’ve encountered before. How were the sales of this product last year? What are the sales of comparable products? We then show these figures to our peers and ask for comment, slowly turning over the figures in our head.

So replace the attractive signs with compelling visualisations, the aroma with data scent (bit of a stretch I know) and the chat with friends with real time collaboration.You then have a business discovery tool such as QlikView, which helps people feel, test and believe the data they’re seeing.

None of this is new.  It’s just taken a while for software providers to catch up with the human brain!