5 Senses in Retail

Have you ever thought that when customer is walking, browsing through your store that he or she perceives the environment not only with their eyes, but equally with their other senses such as touch, hearing, smell and even sometimes with taste.

Did you know that most of us do not even realize what makes us buy, nor choose a specific product and sometimes we even wonder why we bought something we didn’t really need. Apparently 95% of our purchase decisions are done in our subconscious mind (how annoying) and mostly based on emotions, not logic and often done rather spontaneously. That’s right, whilst we think we have everything under control, the truth is that our senses decide for us within split seconds if we are going to buy something or not. Smart retailers have considered this, and they positively manipulate us into a shopping mood, which leads us to the purchase.

Before I go deeper into details about each sense, I would like you to look around your bike store. Look at it carefully, walk around. What can you see – is it calming? or is it chaotic? Is what you’re seeing inspiring you to go for a ride? Or perhaps you feel like you do not want to even enter as you feel overwhelmed. Do you like colours of your store’s interior? The materials displays are finished with? Now, what can you hear? Is pleasant music playing in the background? Or maybe the music is too loud or not to everyone’s taste? Maybe it is very quiet. Do you hear conversations? Are there any noises coming out of the service area and if so, do you like what you hear? Now, take a deep breath and smell it. Is your store pleasant, neutral, or maybe irritating to your nose on account of a busy workshop or tyre stocks? Can you taste anything around the store with your mouth? I am not talking literally, of course, but perhaps there’s coffee and cake you can have there ready for calorie replenishment for any riders arriving for a pit stop. If you do, is it tasty and does it look appealing? Can you experience product around your bike store by touching it? Can you try it? Now imagine your customer can feel, even sense all of what you just experienced at once. How do you think that makes them feel? Do you think they’d be happy to stay longer and perhaps buy a helmet, or gloves or maybe even a bike today?

To build emotional connection with your brand and product you are selling you should target your consumer through at least couple, but perhaps most of the senses, and if you’d use all five then it has been proven customers tend to spend almost six minutes longer in those stores. Isn’t that amazing? If you are willing to understand how those senses work, that knowledge can help you use it in your bicycle store’s visual merchandising and targeted marketing campaigns, to improve the customer’s experience and to increase sales.

Let’s learn a little bit about each of those senses.

Sight has significant impact on your potential customers, who will decide within 90 seconds if they want to enter your store; that factor is only based on your store’s appearance. More than half of the customers will not come back to your store if they dislike its aesthetics. You can easily improve the look of your store by choosing the right colour scheme, having in mind that every colour has different influence on your customers’ expectations and emotions. Boost these by using easily navigable signage, engaging window displays and lighting that draws the eye where you need it to.

Smell is used to trigger a certain emotion in potential customers, subtly encouraging them to not only associate a scent with your brand identity, but also to make them spend more time and money in stores. It improves the customer’s experience. Creating positive memories with scents will make customers feel greater overall satisfaction with your experience, come back and shop more often. How many times have your memories been triggered because of scent? Maybe it’s a smell of freshly baked cookies bringing back memories of your grandmother, or maybe some perfume brings memory about your high school sweetheart. With your brand, if done well, it will do the same to your customers. If your customer walks into a pleasantly smelling space (and do not forget about toilets), they will feel more relaxed and much more comfortable with the surrounding, which will automatically make them want to browse for longer. Be careful when choosing a scent though as people react differently to different aromas.

Hearing is another great sense to consider when talking about senses in retail. When a person listens to enjoyable music the body releases dopamine, which increases their disposition to buying. If you have not invested into even small sound system for your bicycle store it is time to do something about it; encourage these positive emotions.

Touching and trying product when in store is crucial part of buying. In the end this is what physical store is there for, for customers being able to personally experience product before they buy it. There is a reason they have made time for your experience. People do touch to get information about the product. What may be less obvious is that they also like to touch for the sake of touching. They might enjoy the interesting texture, the silkiness, and the luxurious feel of a piece of clothing, for example. Even when they aren’t planning to purchase, the lure of some products rewards touchers with a positive experience. They are touching for fun, so encourage people to touch the product. Even if a product doesn’t have an obvious touch attribute, encourage your customer to feel it, or to try it. Consider having demo bicycles for customers to take out for ride so they can feel how great your product is before they spend quite large amount of money on an item, so that they understand there and then the benefit of using for quite a few years.

Taste is probably the most difficult of the five senses to implement at the bike store due to the varying individual degree of what tastes good, but also because it is sense that mostly apply to grocery stores, cafes, and restaurants. However, Ikea, by introducing the restaurants at their stores, have plenty of their customers visiting just to eat. You do not need to have a restaurant in your bicycle store, but you can introduce taste to your shop by offering your customer a beverage or finger food whilst they are waiting for their bike to be repaired, or during your demo days. You could even offer your customer a glass of bubbly to celebrate their new bike day, if you really want to generate some positive word of mouth. You can also think about having proper bicycle café at your store, so customers can enjoy coffee and cake or lunch before or after their rides.

In conclusion, you simply cannot afford to ignore the use of five senses in your bicycle store.

To learn more or to discuss how you can implement feel free to contact me – Gosia Adamska @ Which Interiors / written for Cycling Industry News 01/2023

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