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5-8 FEBRUARY 2023
NEC BIRMINGHAM, UK

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06 Jan 2022

Improving Customer Experience

Scent marketing, play areas and more: how to create a better in-store experience

November findings from the Office of National Statistics offer a heartening outlook for UK retailers. Footfall has finally equalled post-pandemic levels, with the same number of customers hitting the high street as 2019.

While digital may continue to be a looming threat over high street businesses, it will never replace the in-store experience. Certainly, retailers can capitalise on hybrid opportunities, such as augmented reality or click-and-collect. But we can always do more to make our customers feel good.

Intuitive store design

For better or for worse, COVID has forced us to rethink the way we design our stores. Many have taken to plastic screens and one-way systems, which will assure customers as we emerge from the winter peaks.

In the long term, we should put ourselves in the minds of the shoppers. Speaking at Autumn Fair, Hellen Stirling-Baker explained the layout of her children’s store, Small Stuff. “We have wider aisles for mums to guide prams, plus respite zones for children to chill out and play. We designed it with parents in mind – allowing them to cool off and browse while their children busy themselves.”

Scent marketing

Many stores offer a multi-sensory experience, but is there a role for scent in marketing? Research would lead us to think so. According to studies into sensory perception, people can remember smells with 65 per cent accuracy for up to a year afterwards. Conversely, our visual recall is just 50 per cent. This offers retailers multiple opportunities to delight customers.

Studies from Rezaroma show that pleasant smells can increase dwell time in shops by at least 15 minutes. Likewise, these positive experiences tap into our emotions and help us to associate the store with happy memories. Happy shoppers are more likely to stay, return, and crucially – spend.

Embracing hybrid technologies

Retailers should not fear e-commerce, but instead, use it to prop up their in-store experience. According to research from Retail Week Trends, brick and mortar stores are now looking at diversifying, using the shop floor as a fulfilment zone as well as a traditional shopping area.

Customers can use click and collect while taking the chance to browse on their way through – thereby creating upselling opportunities. A well-designed store can make all the difference.

Visual cues

Another trend spurred on by the pandemic is segmented flooring. This helps to subconsciously guide customers through the store. With coloured carpet tiles, customers can identify different areas of the store, such as home and electronics, without relying on signposting.

This also helps to make the store more accessible, particularly for those who are visually impaired or visiting internationally. A simple colour code system eases the transition between departments.

For an even better experience, retailers should consider strategically placed lighting. This should not be overbearing, but instead, positioned over key points of interest – such as sales or key product merchandising. Light helps to improve mood, promoting a positive emotional response that pushes up sales.

Top tips for creating a better in-store experience

  • Consider the customer flow from entry, and guide them around the store with visual cues
  • Have ‘experience areas’ as well as product merchandising, such as children’s play zones
  • Make use of all sensory experiences including scent to promote positive emotions
  • Blend digital and in-store, from click and collect to newsletter sign-ups
  • Use light to highlight key areas and potential points of sale.

Spring Fair takes place at the Birmingham NEC from February 6 to 9. Find out more here.

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