When a consumer enters a store, they entre a new environment. This can be a calming or highly stimulating environment. They may entre with ambition to make a particular purchase, or idly wonder and browse; we have all been in both these positions at one time or another. A stores environment is intrinsically associated with their brand and it is therefore essential to create the right atmosphere and ambience to create a welcoming environment to foster sales; the essential purpose of a store.
Many factors contribute to a store environment including: the music played, the layout of inventory, the use of technology and personality of employees to name a few. Any changes in these elements will influence the store environment, and consequently the brand. Visitors need time to adjust to the store environment upon entry and don’t want to be bombarded by store personnel or stock. These experiences can make a consumer feel very uncomfortable within the space of the store. Store personnel are required to read visitors to the store to assess if they want assistance, are idle shoppers or are on a mission. The wrong classification of any of these visitors to a store can create the wrong ambience. A store that has the right environment will encourage repeat purchasers and sales.
I went into a store recently where I can only assume the store personnel either a) were receiving high level pressure to meet sales targets; or b) had their remuneration changed to performance-based pay since my last visit (which was over a year ago). Upon entry to the store, I was greeted by 3 store personnel, one after the other, asking if I wanted assistance – a rather confronting experience for an idle shopper! Further to this, every time I held an item of clothing, it was offered to be placed in a change room for me. Once in the change room there was no assistance for a significant amount of tine. Albeit nice to see an attempt at customer service, I will avoid that store in the future due to the intrusion of the staff and the uncomfortable environment it placed me in.
What consumers is time to adjust to the new environment upon entry. The entrance to a store needs to be calm and time needs to be taken before store personnel offer assistance. There is also what we call in marketing the ‘Bum Brush Rule’. Visitors to a store like to be able to have two-way traffic within an isle and not intrude in each others space. These factors are important to consider as consumers need to feel comfortable in order to create and environment that encourages purchase.
This applies to online just as much as bricks and mortar stores. If web pages are difficult to navigate and menu’s hard to locate, visitors are less likely to make a purchase. Sites have to appeal to the target demographic in style and typeface. Online stores have the ability to monitor their store more closely than their bricks and mortar counterparts due to the high level of analytics available to them. Unfortunately a bricks and mortar might not know what’s going wrong until its too late.