I recently read an article about retail as entertainment with the store as the stage. While I agree with this analogy, I like to think of retail as the playground, with the store being the sandbox.
Stores that are sandboxes encourage play. They encourage interaction. They encourage imagination and discovery. A stage on the other hand, is passive. You watch it.
Imagine if your store became known as a playground. Sephora, which sells a myriad of beauty products is a playground. You can’t help but go in and want to smell a perfume, to see an eyeshadow transform your look, to feel a moisturizer and your skin. And Sur La Table is a playground too. You want to taste olive oil, to try out a gadget, to smell the aroma emanating from a cooking class.
Playgrounds engage as many senses as possible to lure you in, then keep you there. And we all know that the more time you spend in a store, the more you’re likely to buy.
THE REAL WORLD RETAILING TAKEAWAY
Create a place for your customers to play and you’ll reap increased sales as a result.
The easiest way to do this is to think about how to engage the senses. Just take each sense and find things in your store experience to engage them.
Seeing a store is the first sense that’s engaged. From the sightline to the store, to its sign to the front windows. You have to be evocative and provocative. But more importantly, how are you engaging the eyes as people walk into your store? Think Willy Wonka and create a feast for the eyes. Different height levels, different shapes and sizes of fixtures, different textures, different colors. All of these can be employed to engage the eyes. We human beings are a curious sort. The more visual stimulation we have, the more we want to interact and understand. Engaging the eyes is going to make your customers want to wander, to discover, and to linger.
For a store to be engaging, customers need to be able to touch. Fabric swatches. A tester for a lotion. The slick feel of an iPhone in your hand. Research shows that the more customers can touch, feel and interact with a product, the more likely they are to buy. So get the stuff out of that impossible-to-open plastic clamshell and let a customer touch it. Better yet, your store staff should be engaging your customers by sampling and actually putting things in their hands. This truly is the sand in your sandbox. So why aren’t you giving them shovels and pails to play with in your sandbox?
Ah, the sense of smell. Nothing conjures up feelings and memories better. And stores know this, which is why the scent of fresh-brewed coffee at a Peet’s Coffee & Tea, fresh-baked cookies at Mrs. Fields and similar experiences help bring people in. Retailers even have scent machines in their stores to help create a mood by having a pleasant scent wafting throughout. Engage your customers by bringing a signature scent to the forefront. Just light a candle or showcase products that have great scents.