Celebration of National Senses Day is this Sunday, June 24th. This is a day to fully exercise all five of your senses: smell, taste, touch, sight and hearing. And as a business owner, you might want to explore your shop from a customer’s point of view.
Studies have shown that smell impacts your customers greatly. Bad smells rank high on the list of most irritating factors in a store. And good smells can influence your customers to stick around longer, buy more and walk away with a positive feeling about your business.
Did you know that you can become immune to certain smells? Think about it. When you cook something with a strong smell, you usually don’t notice how strong the smell is until you step out of the house, and then back in. Last weekend, my husband cooked bacon (yum!) for breakfast. Then he cleaned the kitchen and washed the dishes. Later, we went to run some errands. When we walked through the door, the strong scent of bacon greeted us. Hours later, the house still smelled like bacon! In this case, not a bad thing, but it did catch us by surprise.
Step out of your shop and go for a quick walk. Then come back in, close your eyes and breathe deeply. What does your shop smell like? Is it a pleasant smell? Is it overwhelming?
You can also become immune to loud or annoying noises. I stayed in New York City for a week earlier this month and my hotel window was near enough to the street that I heard cars honking, sirens wailing, music playing . . . all day long. At first it seemed really noisy. But by the end of my stay, I hardly noticed it. In fact, when I got home, the silence was almost overwhelming.
What kinds of noises are there in your shop? Is traffic particularly loud? Is there a business nearby that causes noise? Or is your shop too quiet?
Harper Grey wrote an article about loud blaring music in shops. If you have background music, make sure it isn’t too loud, and that it fits the demographic of your shoppers (don’t play easy listening music in a shop for teens, for instance). If you’re not sure if your music is too loud or soft, ask your customers; they’ll tell you.
A clean, well-organized store is easy to shop in. Customers can quickly find what they need. Products are all displayed in an organized manner, preferably with some nice signage that shows pricing and sale information. In a visually pleasing store, the lighting is bright enough to clearly see, but soft enough that it’s not harsh.
Clutter in any space where the public will be is not OK. Even if you’re an auto mechanic, your customers will judge you based on the amount of clutter in your reception area. Clutter tells people that you are not organized, which might mean that you’ll forget to put back ALL the nuts and bolts you removed from underneath the car. Not good.
Your business should also be visually appealing from the curb. Is your signage raggedy or poorly installed? Are your windows clean? Is there dirt or debris in front of your door?
Step back and take a good hard look at both the inside and outside of your business. Make sure that your customers are seeing a pleasant place to visit.
Touch is a sense that might not be used as readily in your store as some of the other senses. But you may be able to capitalize on this sense anyway. If you are selling products that customers want to be able to touch, make sure there are samples available. I recently bought some 800 thread count sheets, thanks to the samples hanging near the packages. There really was a difference in softness between the 250 thread count, the 400 thread count and the 800 thread count! I was feeling like splurging a bit, so I went for the softest ones. But if there hadn’t been a sample there, I probably wouldn’t have been so taken in by the silky soft feel of the more expensive sheets.
No matter what you sell, your customers will be touching surfaces in your store. Is your counter dirty or gritty? Are you door handles sticky? Make sure that everything a customer touches feels clean and well-maintained.
Sometimes touch conveys a sense of importance. I spent several years as a Realtor and I always gave my clients a special gift during the signing at the title company. I purchased hand-turned wooden pens from a nearby craftsman.The pens had a nice amount of heft and the wood was smooth and polished. When you’re signing papers for a mortgage, it’s an important event and a plastic pen just doesn’t seem adequate.
How can you impact your customers’ sense of touch in your business?
This one is a no-brainer if you operate a restaurant, bakery or candy shop. Samples of your goodies will increase your sales (as long as they actually taste good).
But other businesses use the sense of taste, too. Banks hand out mints or suckers. My local Subaru dealership offers sodas and cookies in the waiting room of the service department. Why? Because taste is a very important sense – it’s a sense that can quickly translate into pleasure. It’s not very much fun to conduct banking business. And it’s not really entertaining to wait for your oil to be changed at the dealership. Indulging the sense of taste is one way to make any experience more pleasant.
Can you introduce the sense of taste into your customers’ experience?