Howard Schultz, Starbucks’ CEO, once said:
“The challenge of the retail business is the human condition. We’re only as good as the moment, that fragile moment when we please or hopefully don’t disappoint the customer.”
One fragile moment can make or break a sale.
One fragile moment can build or weaken a relationship.
You and I both know that one moment is the result of many hours of work and preparation. You’ve spent a lot of time and thought on how your retail location looks, how your products are displayed or what prices they’re sold at.
You've spent a lot of time thinking about how to create a compelling experience in your store, because, just like Schultz, you understand how important it is. Just like Schultz, you know this experience influences your customers’ behavior.
That’s why I compiled 12 simple and efficient ways to enhance the experience you create, so that you can enjoy more sales and loyalty from the people who visit your store. Most of the items below are taken from a research paper published in the Psychology & Marketing journal, which I highly recommend for a more comprehensive resource.
Most of the actions described here are little tweaks that you can make as early as today.
They break down into 3 areas:
- Your customers' interaction with you and your staff
- What your customers see, hear, smell and touch
- Your interaction with customers after they leave your store
1. When you interact with people, mirror their emotional state.
Research shows a happy customer will have a higher willingness to pay when he interacts with a happy salesperson. However, a somber customer will have a lower willingness to pay when he interacts with a happy sales person. Plus, it’s just common sense. People will always spend their precious time and money around people who make them feel good. It’s that simple. So if you or your employees don’t make them feel that way, they most likely won’t come back.
2. Help people as much as you can.
A consumer survey revealed that of the customers who need help in the store, 93% can’t find the right person to help them, and 90% will leave the store empty-handed. In the end, what customers want is more personal attention, even during a time when everyone seems attached to their mobile devices. So be present, and ask politely if there’s anything you can do to help.
3. Pay attention to their expectations, not just to their spoken requests.
They may not necessarily tell you what they want to feel good, but they have certain expectations. They expect you to provide smart recommendations. They expect you to remember them if they’re a loyal customer in a local boutique store. They expect a warm Thank You when they buy something.
4. Install additional lighting in areas where you want your customers to stall.
Research shows that installing additional lighting in the ceiling or over individual displays influenced people to spend more time interacting with products in the store. Lighting used strategically throughout the store affects your customers’ level of stimulation, so don’t overlook this one detail.
5. Choose a color theme that creates an overall positive emotional effect on people.
Color themes can relax people, but they can also create a state of anxiety or haste, so pay attention to the colors you use. For example, in the US, blue and green are generally known to create a calming and relaxing emotional state, red evokes fear, anger or passion, while black calls for exclusivity or elegance.
6. Use lighter colors if you want to create a theme of smoothness, softness, and roundness around the products you sell.
Research shows that colors create tactile connotations in people’s minds. For example, what color comes to your mind when you think of baby clothes? I bet it’s not black. People usually think pastel colors like beige, light blue or light pink, because they want to engulf their babies in softness. If you want to create a theme of softness around some of the products you sell, you can add a touch of pastel colors around that shelf or stand display. For example, if you have a price stand for these products, consider typing it on a light color paper.
7. Go for simple store layouts, instead of complicated ones.
It’s a well-known fact that people prefer things or people they are familiar with or that are easy to understand. People will spend less time in store layouts that are hard to navigate through and that have complex product displays, so choose simple layouts.
8. Play music that reminds your customers about an elegant or abundant lifestyle
A study showed that people spent significantly more money in a wine store when classical music played in the background as opposed to Top-40s pop music. What I found fascinating is that they didn’t buy more bottles of wine, but they chose more expensive bottles of wine, as a result of the classical music they heard.
This indicates that people will buy products that mirror the lifestyle they associate with the music they hear. Classical music worked in the wine store’s example, but remember to keep your customer’s worldview in mind. You should choose a type of music that appeals to your specific customers.
9. Keep your music volume at a moderate level.
Research shows that a high volume of music makes people spend less time in the store. So, unless you have a line of people outside the door waiting to get in the store, keep them inside as long as you can, so that they give your products the attention they deserve.
10. Use fragrance enhancers to create a cozy, welcoming ambiance.
A pleasant smell positively affects shopping behavior, especially if you’re selling products that could have a less than pleasant smell otherwise. For example, research shows that the likelihood to buy sports shoes increased when shoppers tried on the shoes in a mixed floral scented room rather than in an unscented room.
11. Use different fragrances to complement your different product offerings.
An experiment showed that when scents chosen to appeal to men or women were released in a local clothing store, cash register receipts for sales to the corresponding sex doubled. So, if you sell women’s products, you should have a nice feminine scent floating around, and if you sell men’s products, you should have a nice masculine scent.
12. Create the perception that your products have not been tried on (much).
You can accomplish this by periodically checking your items to make sure they hang with pride, with no wrinkles or fingerprints.
Research shows that people are more likely to buy a product after they touch it, but they prefer to go home with one that hasn’t been touched or tried on yet. That’s because they fear “contamination” and they have the irrational belief that an item that has been touched by others has the potential of being damaged. They will take a dress off the rack, try it on in the fitting room, put it back on the rack, and take another piece of the same size, seemingly less tried on, to the cashier.
13. Continue building a relationship with people after they leave the store.
The most efficient way to achieve is to communicate with them via email. Ask for people’s email address. The experience that you create in the store shouldn’t end when your customers leave. Because you sell something that matters in their lives, it’s your responsibility to keep in touch with people and remind them to come visit you again. Tools were created to make it easy for you to collect email addresses and then use them. Most POS tools allow for email address collection nowadays. You should also collect their email address even if they don’t make a purchase.