Ellen Moore has shopping down to a science.

Though her title at Baltimore retail consulting firm Carton Donofrio is officially "customer service optimizer," she is also part of the increasingly sophisticated group of what have been called retail anthropologists. These are people who study our shopping habits, the way real anthropologists study the rituals of remote tribes. The goal is to make us smile -- and spend -- a bit more at the mall.

The most famous among them, Paco Underhill, has published a couple of books, "Call of the Mall" and "Why We Buy," chronicling his 20 years of watching us shop.

Moore, 38, studied advertising at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She got into retail while she was looking for a "real job" after college -- or so she thought. She also recently completed a master's degree in organizational psychology from Capella University.

Her favorite aspect of her job, she says, is knowing that she is helping people have a better experience when they enter a store.

Her advice to other would-be retail consultants? Work in retail, the way she did. There's really no substitute for the front line of customer service.

And expect a change in the way you look at stores. She said she walked out of a store this past weekend because it was in such disarray.

She said, "I'm not a fair shopper anymore."

-- Mary Ellen Slayter

Ellen Moore