StudioGerART | Helping online supermarkets to sell more fruits and vegetables
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Helping online supermarkets to sell more fruits and vegetables

By Tom van Hagen and Gerard Loosschilder

Consumers should consume more perishables – fruits and vegetables – to sustain a healthy lifestyle by way of maintaining healthy nutritional habits. Supermarkets can play an important role in maintaining these habits by keeping perishables an important staple in daily groceries, even if their customer base slowly converts to online services. Tom van Hagen investigates how he can dial up the purchase of perishables by suggesting subtly different ways of presenting them in online supermarkets. Although he did not replicate any supermarket, Tom was inspired by out of loyalty to Albert Heijn; his employer for his long-time side job.

“Nudgelab is a great way to combine theory and practice I have learned in earlier courses. Also  it gives an experience with important skills that will be needed in the future as marketing manager.” – Tom van Hagen

Tom built an experimental online supermarket in which he kept the same set of perishable staples and he played with their display to drive their purchase. The experimental conditions were inspired by the fact that online stores usually follow a layered approach* to giving access to individual products and helping the consumer decide what she needs.

Layer 1 home page
The store offers a choice of categories.
The visitor clicks on one to access the category and study in more detail
-> Layer 2 category page
The store offers a choice of products.
The visitor clicks to either put a product directly in her shopping basket or to continue to the product page study it in more detail
-> Layer 3 product page
The store offers more detail on the individual product
The visitor can study details before deciding if to put it in her basket
-> Layer 4 shopping cart
The store shows the contents of the shopping cart
The visitor can study the list of products and decide whether to return to an earlier step or proceed to checkout

* Short cuts and return options can exist between the various layers.

Tom made a few changes to the design of individual layers to drive the uptake of perishables:

  1. Control: a single button on the home page gives access to all vegetables, fruits and potatoes at once: a category page of 62 staples. Depending on the browser settings of the visitor, the staples will be distributed across several category sub-pages
  2. Nudge 1 Prominence: same as “control”, but the picture that serves as an icon for the button, is visually more prominent and more descriptive for the underlying product categories than the picture in the control condition.
  3. Nudge 2 Separation: three separate buttons on the home page gives access to vegetables (34 staples), fruits (18 staples) and potatoes (10 staples). Depending on the browser settings of the visitor, the staples will still be distributed across several category sub-pages, but because the number of staples per subcategory is lower, so is the number of sub-pages.
  4. Nudge 3 Best sellers: same as “control”, but the home page displays four “best sellers” at the top of the page (mandarins, oranges, bananas and apples) and clicking on one of them will bring the visitor directly to that product page.

The hypothesis is that each nudge under 2-4 will help the online supermarket to sell more perishables than in the control condition. There is no hypothesis which of the experimental conditions 2-4 helps more.

Results of the experiment will be available by the end of June 2017.

You can find links to the web shops below.


Potatos, Vegetables and Fruits, 62 items combined under a single icon and link to a deeper page with all 62 items

Split icons

Fruits (18 products), vegetables (34) and potatos (10) split across three entries on the home page, resulting into three deeper product pages

Affect picture

Same as “base” but then with a completely different picture of Potatos, Veggies and Fruits attracting more attention

Best sellers

Call out of best selling items at the top of the web shop page as a social norms nudge

© Tom van Hagen, student in the Master of Marketing track, Rotterdam School of Management, cohort 2016-2017, E:

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