Consumer buying decisions rely heavily on the retail environment, so it makes sense that retailers are searching for more innovative ways to engage customers at every touchpoint, both online and in-store.
With studies pointing to most in-store purchases being made on impulse rather than pre-planned, retailers would do well to consider how customers engage with the retail environment.
Epson research shows that current trends in the retail sector show that store layout, the use of technology for seamless integration and convenience, and the sensory experience of a space all play a role in moving a customer to the point of purchase.
The importance of strategic layout
The customer’s experience of a physical (brick and mortar) or online retail space has a surprising amount of influence on their purchasing decisions. According to the 2013 European Journal of Marketing, the number of aisles customers tend to visit is also a major influencer on their in-store decision-making. This means that using strategic design to “guide” customers through the entire store would likely lead to an increase in purchases.
Other ways to achieve this include: placing popular brands as far apart as possible; positioning essential items at the back of the store; and using floor lines to create a set path for customers to walk along, to ensure they visit every part of the store. Placing pay-points strategically within the retail space also increases product visibility by ensuring the customer is forced to walk past various product displays before paying for their items.
Retailers can also boost on-the-floor efficiency by making use of intelligent point-of-sale systems, allowing cashiers to assist more customers at a quicker rate.
A similar principle applies to online retail stores – to keep visitors interested and encourage maximum engagement and sales conversions, retailers need to carefully consider how users navigate their websites. Some key aspects to think about include clever placement of call-to-action buttons and internal links, along with a beautiful and easy-to-navigate product catalogue.
Mobile payment solutions
Waiting in line to pay for goods is one of the main reasons people avoid visiting stores altogether. However, for retailers hoping to keep foot traffic flowing through the doors, mobile payment solutions are a great way to make shopping more convenient and pleasurable for customers.
Many major retailers are implementing more efficient payment systems in-store, such as payment portals and mobile receipt printers, to take the hassle out of paying for goods. Cardless payment systems are also on the rise, as app-based solutions make on-the-go transactions even easier.
In addition to traditional point-of-sale systems, mobile payment platforms add a new level of convenience which give customers the feeling of “jumping” the queue.
To further enhance the in-store experience for customers, many retailers are creating retail environments that appeal to the five senses, following research suggesting that multi-sensory shopping experiences stimulates powerful responses from customers.
For example, pairing a specific fragrance with the relevant product has a profound psychological impact on the limbic system – an area of the brain responsible for processing smells, as well as supporting a variety of other vital functions, including emotion and memory processing.
However, this sensory combination is only effective when products are paired with familiar, complementary smells. You wouldn’t pair a cleaning product with the smell of coffee, for example, simply because the products are unrelated.
Engineering retail environments to engage all five senses – from appealing to the eyes using appropriate lighting techniques, to creating the perfect ambience through the power of sound and music – is a highly effective way to positively affect the consumer’s decision-making processes.
Designing retail environments that effectively engage with customers, on a level that makes them feel understood and their needs catered to, is growing in popularity within the retail industry. While experiential retail becomes an increasingly crucial area for retailers to understand, implementing mobile solutions also influences buying decisions and provides customers with efficient and pleasant shopping experiences.