Outside the Box: That last-minute impulse buy tells stores all about you

Picture a gossip magazine by a grocer’s checkout aisle, a box of mints next to the register, or, better yet, something sweet and salty within arm’s-reach of the conveyor belt. These are the stalwarts of the checkout lane impulse buy, a presumed physical relic that some people think will be lost in the mass migration to digital retailing.

Those people have it wrong. How do I know? Because people, no matter what their shopping habits, have spent their entire consumer lives leaving a trail.

Consider things you take for granted today. Type a few letters into a Google search and you expect the powerful algorithmic engine to auto-populate the rest of your search.

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