By Jason Philactides
Easter is just one week away and store promotions have been underway for some time. But there’s more to capturing customer attention over Easter than chocolate eggs and hot-cross buns (though we’re pretty excited about those things too). The majority of consumers are enticed into stores and to make a purchase with the help of clever store design, beautiful packaging, or an appealing layout.
It’s easy for amazing products to get lost amongst other items on the shelves and to lose sales from a poor store layout. So it’s important to make the path to purchase as easy as possible for potential customers and to present your store and products in the most attractive way.
Fortunately, there are a number of strategies you can use to make your store more visually appealing and ensure some key items really stand out. Below are a few insights you can consider.
Colour can influence perceptions and actions for consumers, so pick your palette wisely – it might be Easter but it doesn’t have to be all bright yellows and purples! Choose a colour scheme based on who you’re trying to attract – colours mean different things for different groups. Society and ethnicity can play a huge part in how colours are perceived. For instance, the colour red denotes energy in the west and joy in some Asian countries but it also signifies mourning in certain parts of Africa. In addition, age and demographics can affect how people perceive colours – younger buyers can be more receptive to bright colours, while some seniors prefer subtle hues.
The shape of your products, packaging, shelves, and other store elements can make or break consumers’ purchase decisions. Generally people prefer rounded corners over sharp edges. If you’ve got a lot of sharp edges in your store you may want to rethink your design or find ways to incorporate more rounded and softer-featured product displays throughout the store to break it up.
Your floor plan plays a critical role in managing store flow and traffic. The choice of which plan one is right for you will depend on a number of factors including the size of your store, the products that you sell and more importantly your target market.
Sneakerboy in Melbourne has taken a unique approach by designing a subway-like tunnel that leads into a polished concrete store where shiny illuminated shelves fitted with digital displays are filled with hundreds of pairs of luxury and limited-edition sneakers. The layout fits perfectly with the culture and vibe it is trying to create for their customers. Think about whether the personality of your store and quality of your products are being best represented by your current layout or whether it needs to be changed up slightly to create a more personal and special customer experience.
While great products and excellent customer service can keep customers coming back, your visuals and branding are what entice people to walk into your shop in the first place. Your store’s window display plays a big part in this, which is why you should make it as attention-grabbing as possible.
Homewares retailer Phillip & Lea run their store on the Vend platform in Trentham, Victoria, and have created one of the most unique visual merchandising displays you’ll see in the region. They sell tools for the home cook, the gardener, the preserver, and the hunter and forager, and have displayed this through natural timber, symmetry and beautifully arranged products – some of which literally hang from the windows and walls of their store.
Use your window not just to showcase products, but to tell stories. Your displays should tell a tale that piques shopper’s interests and encourages them to come inside. You can do this by selecting a theme – such as Easter – and then creating a story in line with it. But, remember to keep your designs clean and avoid clutter. Your front window should give a peek of what you have to offer, not give everything away. It’s also crucial to change your displays frequently to keep them fresh and relevant. For example in the lead-up to a busy shopping period, try changing your display slightly once a week to keep it interesting for customers.
While the majority of a location’s design is made up of visual components, other factors such as scent, touch, sound, and taste can also make an impact on a store’s look and feel.
If you wish to create a truly immersive in-store experience, design your store to appeal to as many shopper senses as possible but be sure they all work well together and form part of the same theme and story you’re trying to tell. This may include selecting songs that enhance (not overpower) the store’s ambience or offer free tasty gift packs at the counter (Easter eggs anyone?). Bakeries and cafes may have a slight edge on being able to use the smell of their products to draw customers in but you can still cater to people’s sense of smell through fragrance even if you aren’t in the food industry.
Track and test
Psychological studies and statistics are great but they will only take you so far; the best way to find out what will work in your store is to test it yourself. Always test before fully implementing a big change. For instance, if you’re planning to reinvent the colour scheme of your brand, try running a simple online ad campaign of the same image/idea but in different colours and then track the number of clicks for each one. Or if you have a strong following on Instagram or Facebook, try asking for customer feedback on there to get an idea of which design resonates most with your audience.
If you’re wanting to improve the look of your packaging, shelves, or other store components, test out new designs in just one store or one department – or even by placing the new packaging at the front counter to gauge customer reaction, before rolling them out completely. Better yet, gather intelligence directly from your customers with surveys and focus groups or start a discussion on your social media pages.
In-store analytics tools such as beacons and people-counters can track and measure the effectiveness of your window displays and give you insights into which displays are working so you can refine your strategy.
Finally, always remember that great street appeal can entice customers into your store but it’s the quality of your products and customer service that will keep your customers coming back for more.
Jason Philactides is vice president of sales in the Asia Pacific region for Vend.