IELTS® Listening Practice 8

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Listening Script Vocabulary

(Section 4: You will hear a talk on the topic of space management. First, you will have some time to look at questions 32 to 40 [20 seconds]. Listen carefully and answer questions 32 to 40.)

Marketing Consultant:

Good everyone. Welcome to training session on Space Management. What I’m going to talk to you about today is effective space management in supermarkets. Customers’ shopping habits are of great importance to supermarkets, and marketing consultants, like myself, collect this data to help supermarkets plan the best use of space in the stores.

Various research methods have been used to help boost product sales in supermarkets such as – probably the simplest and most direct method – the questionnaire, which collects data from customers about their views on displays and products. This data is then used by shop managers to decide on the best location for each product. Put simply, what to put where.

Controversially, hidden CCTV cameras that map customers’ routes around stores are also a very popular method of data collection. These cameras watch shoppers move through the store and track their physical movements around the aisles, monitoring where they start, what they buy last, which displays attract their attention etc.

As well as video surveillance, new technology for tracking customers now includes devices such as the eye-movement recorder. This is a device is fixed to a headband worn by volunteer shoppers and tracks their eye movements as they walk through the store, noting the most eye-catching areas of shelves and aisles.

As you can tell, Space Management is a highly sophisticated way of using customer data to plan store layouts in such a way as to maximize profits. Supermarkets are in position to be able to make huge investments into this kind of technology to find out what sells best and where. For obvious reasons, this data is hugely valuable to retailers.

An example of the type of technology that is gaining popularity is a computer program known as SpacePlace. This program, and others like it, allows retailers to identify the best location for various products in their stores based on data collected about purchases. The way SpacePlace works is that it collects data from the electronic checkouts where customers pay for their purchases and calculates how well a product is selling in its current position. If a product is not selling as well as expected in its current location, SpacePlace can suggest the most profitable combination of an article and its position in the supermarket.

So, what we know about how people behave in supermarkets when they walk down the aisles and select the products they think they need from the shelves? Well, if you look at this plan showing one supermarket aisle and two rows of shelves, you can see that the products located at the top left-hand corner at the beginning of aisles don’t sell well. In tests, secret CCTV cameras filming shoppers moving around a store over a seven-day period show that they tend to walk straight past these areas and move straight to the centre of an aisle. Products located here just don’t attract people’s attention and so they don’t sell well.

When customers stop at the centre of an aisle, they tend to pause and look carefully along the whole length of it so products placed here sell much better.

What’s even more interesting for supermarkets is that products placed at the customer’s eye level sell really well. Products here sell fast and so manufacturers are willing to pay a premium price to have their products displayed in these locations, which are known as ‘hotspots’.

Of course, everyone wants their products to be in a hotspot. But actually, the prime positions in the store are the ends of the aisles, called the gondola ends, and these are the areas that really attract customers’ attention. New products are often placed here so they are noticed and manufacturers are charged widely varying prices for this privileged spot. The end of an aisle is also used for promoting special offers, which are found waiting for us as we turn the corner of an aisle.

So, finally, the customer has to pay. Any spot where a supermarket knows a customer will have to stand still and concentrate, even for a short period of time, is good for sales. And this is why the shelves at the checkout are popular with manufacturers of chocolates — the biggest ‘impulse’ food of all.

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