When customers enter your store you want to engage them on all levels.  Sight, smell and sound.  You know that is it important to have a clean and well lit environment.  The dressing rooms should be free of clutter.  Shelves should be neat and clothing folded nicely.  No dust or cobwebs in the corner.  But have you thought much about the way the store smells and sounds?

So much of the buying decision is based on emotion and how you are feeling.  Scent is well documented to be our most emotional sense.  Think about the smells that bring back such strong memories and emotions in your own life.  Scents can trigger powerful nostalgia-laced memories and can subconsciously affect behavior.  You can take advantage of that and set the right tone by infusing your store with specific scents. 

There have been studies done to show how scent affects buying habits.  Having the right scent in your store can produce positive feelings toward your brand and may even increase the likelihood a customer will return to the store.  There are companies that market scents.  Retailers, restaurants and hotels hire them to produce branded scents to build an emotional connection with customers.  The Scent Marketing Institute has shown that specific scents correlate with different consumer behaviors.  We’ve all heard about baking cookies to help sell homes.  But did you know that the scent of leather and cedar convinces us to buy luxury furniture and citrus encourages us to browse longer and spend more? 

Credit:  Scent Marketing Institute/SCENT trends

If you use scents, be sure not to put out free mints on the counter.  Peppermint satiates hunger and is powerful enough to serve as a barrier to other scents that may be temptingly wafting toward you.

Sound can also have an impact on the way we shop and buy.  It can put you in an altered mindset and affect your purchasing patterns.  There are audio architects who design custom soundtracks that align with a brand and its goals.  Studies show, for example, that classical music communicates luxury and affluence thus increasing spending.  Nordstrom doesn’t pay the piano player just to be nice.  They know it helps people want to spend more.  In addition to the type of music, the pace of music can also make a difference.  Slower music encourages you to browse and take your time, while fast passed music increases per-minute sales – but can also make you less likely to make impulse purchases.   

So as you consider ways to enhance your customers’ experience when they enter your store, consider more than just the way the store looks.  Consider how the customer engages on an emotional level.  How does your store smell?  Is it deadly quiet in the store?  If you play music, does it match the clientele and encourage the right buying behavior?

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