Articles

Hosing Off The Baggage At The Front Door.

Successful selling today is more about removing the barriers to purchase than it is about convincing the customer to buy. Anything that detracts from the theatre of engagement, the act of buying needs to be removed faster than an under-performing federal government Minister in an election year.

The biggest of these barriers is physiological stress.

Almost every customer that enters a store of any kind arrives in a context. They have been conditioned by that context and whatever state that has delivered them in, affects how they will shop in the store.

Yet for all we know about the increasing impulsiveness of shoppers, the dominant sub-conscious influence of purchase triggers and the behavioural impact of multi-sensory environments on sales, it is surprising how few retailers focus on the ‘landing zone’ or entry impact of the store beyond visual impact.

In the 1980’s Canadian supermarket chain Loblaws revolutionised supermarket layouts by forcing customer traffic flows to enter the store through freshly cut flowers and into the fresh food section before the rest of the shop. In the 1990’s Williams-Sonoma discovered that by pumping the smell of their freshly baked muffins from the oven exhaust to the front of the lease line they dramatically increased conversion and transaction value. In the naughties, Selfridges created an entry experience into their luxury precinct that consisted of a 5 metre long red tunnel with halo lighting, soft environmental sound and aroma.

These are all successful examples of entry experiences that altered the physiological state of the customer and delivered them fresh and energised – the retail equivalent of a psychiatrist hosing off the emotional baggage at the front door.

Customer physiology is important. It affects dwell time, ability to process information, reaction, shopper rage and much more. Every retailer has an opportunity to change the physiology of the customers at the entry point to the store, in a way that makes the retail experience more pleasant for the customer and more profitable for the retailer.

It all revolves around sensory stimulus. Using the five senses for an impact that removes the negative and increases the positive aspects for the customer. Sight. Sound. Smell. Touch. Taste. From the moment that they enter the store, the customer should feel sub-consciously stimulated and uplifted – without feeling consciously manipulated or controlled. They may not know why, but they just feel better having entered the store.

And if they feel better being in the store, they spend more time and they spend more money and they can’t wait to come back and do it again.

For every retailer the entry experience is important. A little thoughtfulness and a little science from you is all it takes to create a shopping experience that has a magical effect on the shopper.