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Your Store Must Demand Attention

Let’s admit it; most retail shops are simply boring. Walk through any shopping precinct and the majority of stores will never catch your attention. Can anything be done?

In this age of instant messaging and fast communication it is critical that a retailer works hard to draw attention to the store, and to hold that attention when the customer walks in the door.

 I remember, years ago, being told about a homewares store in Chicago that had stunned one of our suppliers on a recent trip. When I visited Crate and Barrel later that year I was unprepared for the radically different way in which the merchandise was presented. Here was a combination of a retail store, a gallery, a warehouse and a theatre. Merchandise was carefully placed on rough-hewn crates alongside beautifully crafted dining tables. Product was both massed and delicately laid out at the same time. Most, but not all, merchandise was color-coded.

Does your shop window, does your shop entrance, does your shop’s interior evoke an emotional response from customers? It is no longer enough to be a mini-warehouse of quality goods; a retail shop must instantly appeal to one (or preferably all) of the five senses; touch, sight, smell, sound and taste. That’s why, if you love coffee, you react to the smell of roasting coffee beans; and why some stores build a venting system that distributes the aroma both inside and outside the store. It’s why some florists present gorgeous arrangements (visually color coded) right in the window, and then create a floral garden inside the store. Some florists are even spraying scent (perhaps, rose scent) into the interior of the shop.

It’s why the best chocolate shops offer you a sample on entry, and reveal a myriad of their chocolate making trays to encourage you to experiment (sight, taste, smell).


It’s why the Bakers Delight stores use the smell of baking bread to entice customers, and then tries to extend the customer’s purchase by offering taste-size samples of varieties of bread, scrolls and buns.

But there’s one more thing. It is quite possible to lay out a store in a beautiful way and still not draw attention. That’s because little thought has been given to lighting. Retailers need to think like theatrical impresarios who, when they present a ballet, an opera or a play use lower levels of lighting across the stage so that spot-lights cleverly high-light the points of drama.

Your challenge, as a retailer, is to demand attention, to stand out in the crowd of retail sameness; to do it in a way that enhances your reputation with loyal customers, and at the same time surprises potential customers who are strolling down the pavement or the mall, with no particular intention to buy.

* David Jenkin is a retail expert and author of What Great Retailers Do ($34.95, Baraka House Publishing, phone (03) 9836 2303 or email barakahp@bigpond.net.au)

* The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and don’t necessarily reflect the opinions of DYNAMICBUSINESS.com or the publishers.

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