Engaging All 5 Senses of Your Customers

Think about the last store you visited that you recall “smelling” something. Was it the scent of coffee? Maybe a signature candle? Or possibly the smell – good or bad – the perfume a sales associate was wearing. Now imagine the last store you visited that left you visually pleased. Were you inspired by displays? Did you see products that were memorable? Possibly you saw something for the first time that you have never seen before?

Customers have five natural responses to everything in their lives, and that includes shopping. While there are exceptions, the majority of customers have five ways to be engaged – or disenchanted – by the stores they visit. Looking at the five senses below, consider how you can better support your customers in ALL areas.

Sight: Research shows that customers prefer open store layouts that allow for easy movement and visibility. To help achieve this, identify if your store is comfortable for anyone to walk around. Now imagine if they have a strolller, wheelchair, cane or other walking aid. Additionally, having well-lit, very attractive displays will engage customers to want to shop more. Your goal though sight is to capture their visual attention and keep it engaged in multiple ways without much challenge  – if any – for them to enjoy. Remember that signage is a tool to aid you in appealing to this sense, so be sure to use it wisely.

Touch: Customers instinctively want to touch things. Creating an enviornment that encourages touch will allow your customers to get more engaged and ultimately, more likely to buy things. By experiencing products through touch, they will have a more personal connection. An example of this may be a   dressing room to try on clothes, or simply a product available for hands on demonstration. Keeping products at eye level that welcome touch is also a good idea. For those things that demand restriction from touching, identify how customers should learn more about them – such as with an “ask an associate for assistance” sign. Another thought to consider is if your customers may have kids in tow. If this is a common occurrence, determine how you can keep the kids touching things other than your inventory. Having a basket of toys to engage with will keep kids happier – and parents shopping longer.

Sound: Whether it’s the sound of an employee chatting with her friend onthe phone, soft music in the background or nearby customers discussing what they want to buy, what consumers hear makes an impression. For all things you can control – such as store music or conversations employees may have – make sure it’s respectful, responsible and generally pleasing to all ears. Encourage you and your team to avoid discussing gossip or other frowned upon topics, and kkeep everything upbeat and positive. The music you choose should be neutrally accommodating to your customers, so consider the range of customers that come through your doors.

Smell: Aroma can be good… or bad. If you are a store that sells strong scented products, consider what you can do to neutralize your at large store environment. Of course, if the strong scent is generally perceived as positive – such as the smell of coffee, chocolate, cinnamon or vanilla, then you may be good to go. But for other scents, not everyone is a fan. Lillies, for example, may be a beautiful flower but many people respond negatively to their strong scent. One way to help control your store smell is to identify a signature scent that is a favorite among most crowds, then introduce this scent to your store. Pretty soon, your customers will begin associating you with that scent.

Taste: Not every store has opportunities to engage the taste-buds of their customers. But for those that do, your opportunities are endless. Have samples, provide more formal tastings and welcome vendors to come and have “bites” and more of their products for customers to enjoy. If you are a store without food to offer on a daily basis, consider having beverages available for your customers. Even a small glass of water can provoke taste.

Using these five senses as a checklist can help you achieve stronger customer experiences. And remember – you are a customer yourself. What do you enjoy from the stores you visit?


  • Dripto
    April 23, 2016

    Thank you for this wonderful article.

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