in-store experience

For retailers, experience extends beyond the marketing plan to in-store customer experiences.

Something has to catch the shopper’s eye. Maybe it’s a bold front window display, creative signage or a well-lit store staffed with smiling associates. We rely on visual input for almost instantaneous decision making —it’s the difference between taking a closer look or a turn and walk away. To improve the in-store customer experience, it is essential to engage all the senses.

Here are a few visual merchandising tips to help increase conversion and return customer rates.

Create a Flow

Traffic flow patterns matter when designing the layout of any store. The straight, row-after-row aisles of a grocery or home improvement store make sense, as most customers follow a list and want a direct path. However, a general department store needs a different flow, often changing traffic patterns for each area. A clothing retailer, though, may opt for an angular floor plan to create more focal points for displays.

Regardless of which flow pattern works best for your store, all retailers need walkways that showcase the products prominently and that are easy for shoppers to navigate without feeling claustrophobic.

Encourage Interactive Experiences

In this age of the digital, connected lifestyle, shoppers expect and enjoy an interactive experience. It may be as simple as a kiosk to locate that perfect item that’s not in-store but can be ordered. Or, it could be an interactive display with a touch screen where shoppers can learn product information.

Take your in-store experience beyond creative merchandising by incorporating retailtainment efforts. This will create an attraction within your location. You may opt to host one-off special events, or develop a more permanent retail experience using augmented reality, museum exhibits or daily workshops.

Lighting Ties It Together

Rely on the three main types of lighting when creating displays and the mood for your store:

  • General — overall illumination from installed ceiling lights or other ambient sources, but never go too dim — that deters shoppers.
  • Task — track lighting, pendant lights or portable lamps positioned to illuminate a specific detail or product.
  • Accent — sets the mood, creates drama and is ideal for highlighting textures.

Lighting must be a main character in your store’s visual merchandising narrative.

Make It Easy

One of the main draws to online shopping is its convenience. Make it easy for shoppers to find what they want and simultaneously expose them to new products, without wasting their time. Create displays that group connected items in a theme, so everything is in one place. Make sure departments are organized logically. Always provide clear, easy-to-read signs and price tags.

Simple, Visible, Positive

Life is complicated. Let’s make the in-store customer experience less complicated with simple displays that clearly showcase products that are both needs and wants. Keep these displays visible with the right lighting and by making sure the space around/near the display stays clutter-free. Make shopping in-store a positive experience with associates who are friendly, helpful without hovering, and knowledgeable about the brand and products in-store.

Cohesive Theme

A theme helps tie it all together, but it has to be cohesive. Keep the theme consistent throughout — from front window displays to endcaps, shelf displays and displays located at the checkout. Of course, use the theme to dictate what type of interactive experience you’ll promote. Themes may be as simple as the brand or may be seasonal to highlight specific products.

Revamping your visual merchandising techniques can be a strong way to improve the overall in-store customer experience, which has the potential to increase sales and create repeat visits.

Author bio: Robin Brower is Senior Vice President of Business Development at OPTO, where she leads the design and business development teams. Brower built the design department from scratch in 1983 and has been the organization’s lead designer for the past 35 years.