Date of this Version
We examine grocery shopping paths using the “Traveling Salesman Problem” (TSP) as a normative frame of reference. We define the “TSP-path” for each shopper as the shortest path that connects all of his purchases. We then decompose the length of each observed path into three components: the length of the TSP-path, the additional distance due to order deviation (i.e., not following the TSP-order of category purchases), and the additional distance due to travel deviation (i.e., not following the shortest point-to-point route). We explore the relationship between these deviations and different aspects of in-store shopping/purchase behavior. Among other things, our results suggest that (1) a large proportion of trip length is due to travel deviation; (2) paths that deviate substantially from the TSP solution are associated with larger shopping baskets; (3) order deviation is strongly associated with purchase behavior, while travel deviation is not; and (4) shoppers with paths closer to the TSP solution tend to buy more from frequently purchased product categories.
Path models, Traveling Salesman Problem, Grocery Retailing
Hui, S. K., Fader, P. S., & Bradlow, E. T. (2009). The Traveling Salesman Goes Shopping: The Systematic Deviations of Grocery Paths from TSP-Optimality. Marketing Science, 28 (3), 566-572. http://dx.doi.org/10.1287/mksc.1080.0402
Date Posted: 27 November 2017
This document has been peer reviewed.