What is at the foundation of Retail Store Design and Visual Merchandising?” If I could boil it down to two principles that guide everything, it would be these:
1. Don’t think. Feel.
Now, don’t get me wrong here – I am about as strategic as they come regarding store design.
However, having said that, everything that I do in designing a store experience is targeted at the customer’s emotional response.
99.99% of purchases are emotionally based. And I’m being generous with the 0.01% – I have yet to have anyone show me a purchase that they’ve made that doesn’t have an emotional element to it.
One famous example is: a presenter asks everyone in his seminar to look at their watch. He explains, “If you spent more than $20 on your watch, it was for emotional reasons.”
In today’s world, a $20 watch will keep time just as well as a $6,500 watch. (For that matter, we all have time on our cell phones, so who needs a watch?)
And yet, millions of people are still spending the additional $6,480 to make themselves feel special, elite, sophisticated, refined, discriminating, successful.
The same can be said for the store environment. We buy things from stores that make us feel the way we want to feel about ourselves – stores that are in alignment with the way we want to be perceived by others.
In any purchase decision, feelings will always trump thoughts. How do your stores make your customers feel?
2. Stop looking at your stores through your own eyes, and start seeing them through your customer’s eyes.
One of the greatest values that we bring to our clients is the ability to see their stores through the eyes of an outsider – through the eyes of their customer.
You can do this too – and you must, if you want to connect with your customer.
Step outside. Get some distance from your stores (literally, if you have to) and then come back and see them with the eyes of someone who has never seen them before.
Put yourself into the mindset of your customer. What is their life like? What do they want? What do they need? What do they worry about? What do they aspire to?
Forget everything that you know about the behind-the-scenes operations, the company history, the insider knowledge of what you’re capable of as a company.
See only what is – what is in the space here and now – and see if it from the perspective of someone asking themselves, “Does this feel like me? Does it feel like the me that I aspire to be?”
As a company there is likely a long list of things that you would want customers to know about you as they shop your stores.
Are the most important ones being communicated by the store environment itself? And again, if viewed through the eyes of your customer, do your stores make you feel the way you would want to feel in order to be inspired to buy something just to be able to take that feeling home with you?
Most of us at one time or another during our upbringing, or during our education in preparation for entering the business world were taught to “dress for success.”
What that means and looks like will differ from person to person depending on their own unique personality, the response they’re hoping to get from people, and the environment in which they’re trying to succeed.
Stores are the same way. Whether they’re “dressed for success” or not will depend on their unique personality (your Brand), the response they’re hoping to get from customers (the emotional reaction that leads to a purchase), and the environment in which they’re trying to succeed (the marketplace and competitor pool).
Successful store designs are a function of combining a series of seemingly minor elements – space planning, fixture selection, lighting, colors and materials, signage and graphics – that, when taken together become a powerful, emotional shopping experience.
It all begins with Seeing and Feeling the relationship between you and your customer.
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