For Great Holiday Sales: Create a Memorable Customer Experience
The holiday season is not only a time for celebrating, it’s also a time for gift shopping. For merchants, it is also the most important sales period of the year. Holiday business sometimes makes the difference between profit or loss. That being the case, it is vitally important that you, the store owner, do whatever you can to help increase sales. Besides carrying a good product mix that is merchandised well, what will help you sell even more is to have your store offer customers a total, full-sensory experience rather than just being a place for them to buy. When customers start feeling good just by being in your store, perhaps feeling more relaxed, calm, and happy, they will linger. While they linger, if your displays are well arranged and complemented with helpful information, they will purchase from you. Not only will they feel happy when making the purchase, but that purchase will continue to evoke good feelings, remind them of your store and bring them back again for more of the same.
Creating a powerful customer experience will keep them in your store, but it also can draw people that were only passing by. Your front window display might be attractive, but so are the stores around you. What may very well make a difference is that when they are walking by your store, something is reaching out to them that offers an interesting experience. Perhaps they catch a whiff of a scent that they can’t resist, or perhaps they heard a hint of
intriguing sound that they want to hear more of, or a bit of twinkling light caught their eye and made them pause. In these examples, it is the suggestion of a good experience that “hooks” the potential buyer, not just what they saw in the window.
Many of you have incorporated scent and sound in your stores, but I am suggesting that you go beyond that and create a full sensory experience. Think of involving all five senses. Appeal to sight, smell, hearing, touch, and taste. Think of what would positively stimulate each type of sensory experience for you and create it in your store. Or, alternatively, do a little research about what is most appealing to each of the senses and incorporate what you learn. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Most, if not all of you, already appeal to this sensory experience with attractive displays that make your products look irresistible. However, what is sometimes missed is how important light is to both your store and your products. If your store is darker than others around it, people won’t tend to enter. Likewise, if you have dark areas in your store or around your displays, the product placed there won’t sell very well. Stones and jewelry need lots and lots of light. Unless it is shining right into someone’s eyes, or creating reflection rather than highlights, there is no such thing as too much light on stones and jewelry. (Be sure the light isn’t creating too much heat however.) Sparkle, especially sparkle that moves, always attracts attention. You might have some form of glitter that dangles from your ceilings, perhaps hangings with sparkling mirrors that turn in a slight breeze of a fan. This attracts attention.
Light also includes color, so be sure to have uplifting colors in your store, from the displays, walls, and perhaps even the outfits your employees are wearing. My jewelry displays are white with color accents in both my wholesale business and my artist business in Maui. That is because throughout the years, I have found that my sales are much higher when I show on white rather than the traditional black. White feels better than black. It tends to uplift while black tends to enclose. When you think of color, concentrate on how it makes you feel rather than just how it looks and use the colors that make you feel better.
It is particularly important to have scent in your store. You don’t need to overwhelm your customer with it, especially because some people are extra-sensitive to scent. Have it instead be a gentle, almost subliminal scent floating in the light-filled air you have created in your store. Now, many of you are already doing this. However, I might suggest one extra consideration. It has been shown that one of the most positively evocative scents is actually the smell of cookies fresh from the oven. If someone gets a whiff of these baking cookies from the sidewalk, they will very likely soon be inside your store because most people have happy memories associated with baking cookies. In spite of the fact that we may personally prefer more traditional scents of the New Age type, in terms of good associations and warm memories, the smell of fresh baked cookies will lead to better sales (sales, memory, and positive association are linked). The scent of baking cookies can be found in oil diffusers, wax melts, and scented candles (an oil diffuser is probably much safer than a burning candle).
Be sure to have lots that your customers can touch and feel once they enter your store. Stones are great for that. You might have a well-lighted display of a large clear quartz specimen to attract attention, (because they do), surrounded by colored stones and smaller clear crystals in open displays where people can touch and feel them (center the large clear quartz up high beyond easy reach). In fact, if your sales staff is attuned and paying attention, when the customer reaches for the stones, they can engage the customer, perhaps by suggesting other stones to feel. Based on my long experience, I recommend that you have the clear quartz, amethyst, pink and blue stones be more prominent, followed by other colored stones. I have found that since 1973, customers have been more attracted to the clear and sparkling, purples or blues in my stones and jewelry than any other colors. It still holds true.
You might, then, display more product in a “touch trail,” so that the customer can touch progressively different textures and colors and will be drawn from one display to another as they feel the various textures. You might have silk scarves, for example, that people can caress, followed by a display of something fuzzy, and then more stones, followed by other varying textures. People love to touch and feel, and chances are that if they feel something that they like, they will purchase it (especially if they already are predisposed from breathing in the baking cookie scent!).
Most of us have discovered the importance of having background music in our stores.
What is most important is that we don’t play music or sound that will “space people out” by being too soft and dreamy or too “out of body.” Though beautiful, meditation music isn’t always best to play because though your customers might enjoy it, they may also stop moving and their attention will be lifted away from your store, and, if so, they will certainly stop buying. The best music to play is music that is uplifting and “moves.” It should have some rhythm, even if it’s ever so slight, because then, as the music moves, so too will your customers and they will continue to be involved with your store.
With respect to the holidays, you might want to play some holiday music. Since there are people of many traditions shopping, and perhaps your stock reflects differing traditions, it is best to find music that will appeal to them all, not leaving out one tradition for another. For the holidays, then, you might try music with an angelic sound.
A good taste makes people feel happy. You might consider having tastings or small food samples available for people who come into your store. Have a plate set up not far from your front door with “samples” of small cookies, candies, or chips for instance. You may scatter them throughout your store to keep people wandering from display to display. Be sure to label the ingredients exactly so that people don’t eat things that are not good for them. Perhaps one evening a week you can have samplings of tasty treats that you have someone carrying around your store, coupled with some kind of appearance or performance that can be advertised. One of your designers, for example, can speak about his or her designs, or the company making the food treats can talk about how they’re made, or one of your authors can do a reading and book signing. You can offer readings or energy balancing sessions, all something that people love. Of course, you can then sell the related products.
Train your Sales Staff
All of these sensory experiences and outcomes can be further enhanced if your sales staff is aware and trained as to their effects. If your sales staff is trained, they will be better able to attune themselves to the sensory feelings that your customers are having and can better communicate with them. When they approach a customer, they will be able to be in harmony with them and be able to then steer them to one or more products that will be of best appeal. Your sales staff, then, should be attuned to every sensory experience in your store Perhaps take a few minutes before the start of each day, to have them open and immerse themselves in the scents, sights, sounds and other sensory delights in your store. Do this yourself as well. Perhaps have them close their eyes for a few moments and imagine that the experiences that they sense are flowing into their beings as they open to their presence. Thus, filled with beauty and peace, they are ready to go out to greet their customers with attuned helpfulness.
If nothing else, having many sensory experiences in your store will provide your sales staff with a good opening to begin their talk with the customer. “Doesn’t that smell amazing? “Oh…taste that! You’ll love it!” or “Doesn’t that stone feel good? Try this one?” or “That sound in the background is so relaxing, yes?” are some effective ways to start a conversation so that your customer isn’t scared away thinking that you’re just trying to sell to them.
Not only is creating a total sensory experience in your store likely to increase sales, but it is also going to make your store a special place to be, both for yourself, your sales staff, and your customers. It will help distinguish your store from others and make it so that your store is the one that your customers flock to over and over again. These are only a few ideas for creating a sensory, experiential atmosphere in your store. Have fun and notice what makes you feel good…and then bring it to your stores through sight, smell, hearing taste and touch. Be creative and feel free to experiment.