Why is Retail Experience so Important?

retail experienceOn average it takes a customer about 60 seconds when entering a store to make their judgment of the store. This is why retail experience is one of the most crucial elements to plan into your retail space because this is what your customer comes into contact with before they even pick up the first piece of merchandise. The retail customer experience is about all the sensory elements and experiential side of interacting with a brand. The senses that are most important when planning your customers’ shopping experience are; sight, smell, and sound. It is proven that the shopping experience that a customer has within a retail store influences their purchasing decisions. Even to the extent that they are willing to pay higher prices for merchandise if it can be purchased in a favorable retail environment. Also the way a customer perceives the quality of the merchandise is also a direct translation of how the retail experience is. Your objective should be to be able to use your retail environment to communicate with customers using visual merchandising techniques. Giving your customers an amazing retail experience will leave them with a great lasting impression of your brand and keep them coming back.

Reinventing Retail: Experience-Driven Commerce

How to Improve Customer Experience in Retail Stores

In order to give your customers the best retail store experience make sure to plan for the following elements; scent, space, sound, lighting, colors, and interaction. Each of these plays a vital role in creating a strong brand aesthetic and will make your customers wanting to come back to keep experiencing such a nice retail environment.


The scent has a lot of physiological effects that people might be unaware of but is very important to take into consideration when considering how you want your retail experience to feel for ourretail experience customers. Different smells can cause you to have various emotional reactions, such as;

  • Vanilla – is known to be calming and comforting
  • Lavender, cinnamon, orange, and basil– these scents create a feeling of relaxation, and its soothing, calming elements will reduce anxiety
  • Eucalyptus, rosemary, peppermint, thyme, and grapefruit– are stimulating and can increases productivity
  • Ginger, licorice, chocolate, and cardamom–  trigger a feeling of romance

Taking advantage of the emotions created by having scents throughout your store is extremely beneficial since it will create a soothing, relaxing retail environment in which your customers will want to spend more time and lead to more purchases.

If you think about it you can probably recognize that different retailers have very distinct smells that fill the store. Having a great unique smell in your store is a great way to be remembered and recognized by your customers. Then when a customer smells your stores’ scent again it will trigger good emotions of their shopping experience and remind them of your brand which is why it is great if you can have that scent filling the air outside of your shop as well.


retail experienceThe music that you play within your store is a direct reflection of your brand image and the atmosphere which you are trying to create. It is also shown to influence customers purchasing decisions. Music influences your retail experience since different sounds can create various emotions, such as sounds with a slower tempo cause relaxation which again can cause the shopper to spend more time in the store. Or using music which your customers can identify too with cause a stronger sense of affiliation with your brand and store. If the music is good then this really adds an overall enjoyable aspect to your customers’ retail experience.


The feeling of space that your customers have inside of your store should be:

  • Open & Uncluttered- Give them the feeling to roam around and explore which can be very relaxing and enjoyable
  • Seating Area- This is a wise decision to incorporate since shoppers who are tired will not rush out but rather take a seat and enjoy the space, this is also important for people who are accompanying your customer
  • Shelving- Make sure all merchandise is easily accessible, anything your customer cannot reach they will probably not buy

Atmospheric Lighting

Retail experience

Stop lights should not only be seen as something functional but rather as something that can be used to alter the entire atmosphere of the space to create a retail experience that is enjoyable. Lighting can also be used strategically to alter the way customers shop. Bright lights are known to promote impulse purchases since it speeds up the pace at which customers are purchasing products, it can also create a feeling of positivity, fun, vibrancy, as well as honesty. Whereas softer dimmed lighting creates calm comfortable environments where your customers are more likely to spend more time in your store which gives them more opportunity to go through everything and increase their basket size. If you are using dimmed lighting then you can use spotlights to highlight certain products and displays which will bring more attention to these areas.


retail experienceInteraction is becoming more important in a brick and mortar store since these can be real competing factors when compared with online shopping. To create a great retail experience a customer should feel like they are able to interact with your brand as well as be inspired. A great way to inspire your customers and help them visualize themselves using your products is by having iPads around the store playing videos or having a slideshow of photos with inspiring lifestyle imagery. Ipads can also be used add value to your merchandise to use as interactive displays to explain valuable information about your products and the story behind them which will sway your customers buying decisions in a positive direction. These kinds of elements will set you apart and will leave a lasting positive memory about the retail experience your customer had.

An inactive experience does not always have to utilize technology, this can also be done by offering services in the store or having the sales staff that are catering to your customers in a way that leaves them feeling connected on a personal level and well taken care of. A great way to way to connect with your customers is by offering them free water, tea, and coffee which will help them feel more at ease and will encourage them to spend more time in your store.

The goal is to create a memorable retail experience that your customers will not forget and will have them feeling a sense of community, inspiration, and admiration for your brand. Shopping in your store should make them feel like they have joined a tribe and discovered a space which they feel they have a personal connection with.

Sensory Branding

Targeting at least two of these senses in order to connect with your customers at an emotional level is called sensory branding. It is a type of retail marketing that applies to senses in relation to your brand. Creating your desired retail experience utilizing the different senses allows you to generate certain beliefs, feelings, opinions, and thoughts just by using a multi-sensory brand experience.

Retail Experience Examples


The Starbucks experienretail experiencece is known to be familiar and comfortable. They achieve this by not only focusing on the taste sense but also on sound, smell and feel. The smell that fills the air in Starbucks is not only of coffee beans but it is mixed with a perfume as well. Then there is the music which is always playing soothing relaxing coffee house tunes. Touch comes into play when considering the comfortable couches and chairs they have available to make for a cozy environment. Lastly and most importantly they manage to achieve the same feeling throughout all of their locations which convey a sense of home and part of a tribe feeling.


Apple really focuses on the interaction part of the sense since customers are able to see, touch, listen, and experience Apple products, and get a feeling of what the apple lifestyle is all about. They also do a great job of providing a lot of information about the products which allow you to also learn more about the brand and build up a trust.

Abercrombie & Fitch

The retail experience created by Abercrombie utilizes many of our sense in a dramatic way such as; scent, lighting, visuals, and sound. Their scent is one of the things that stands out most to customers since you can often already smell a store a block away. Then there is the music which is catering to their young clientele, playing popular loud club music which is very upbeat and loud creating an energetic feeling and literally causes your heart rate to rise which increases your physiological arousal as well. This overstimulation leads to impulse purchases. The lighting, on the other hand, is balancing it out since it is dimmed and only having spotlights to highlight certain displays and elements. Visually they market beautiful people which they assume their customers strive to look like.

Examples and Tips on Using Merchandising as a way to create a great Retail Experience