In order to drive retail store sales the environment must engage the customers senses, converting their desires into physical purchases. In-store shopping has the advantage over online stores due to its ability to create an experience, involving the customer in ways that aren’t achievable on the internet. In order for this method to work however there needs to be certain steps put into place to ensure that the customers experience is a positive one. In creating an enjoyable atmosphere, the customer is encouraged to stay in-store longer, increasing their chances of buying non shopping list items.
Reduce PA clutter
How often are you in a store where you are constantly hearing loud and abrupt messages over the public address system, repeatedly asking someone to come to the checkout, or answer a phone call in the office? The public address system is a great method for quickly getting an announcement to all staff and customers but in many cases this is abused, decreasing the store ambiance. Staff need to be trained to only use the PA when necessary. By reducing the PA clutter, staff and customers will pay more attention when important messages are played over the speakers.
Make announcements clear and concise.
When announcements over the PA are necessary they should be made clear and with an even, level voice. Most microphones don’t level out staff voices. Staff often shout into the microphones because the surrounding environment, at their end of the store, is usually loud and they naturally increase their volume to overcome it. Announcements over telephone pagers and other low quality microphones should be avoided at all costs. Nothing sounds worse than distorted announcements made through telephones, which loudly ‘CLICK’ as the user puts the phone back on the receiver. For quality guaranteed quality it’s best to purchase in-store microphones that offer automatic volume levelling, so staff announcements will always play at an even volume.
Make public address volume controls off limits for staff
In-store music and advertising? So many customers I’ve talked to have never even heard advertising or music in a store before because the volume is often so low it can’t be heard above the general store noise. This issue in many stores is often an inadequate number of speakers, or more often – staff adjusting the store volume levels to avoid listening to in-store promotions. Staff access to volume levels should be restricted, unless necessary. To avoid this issue altogether purchase a PA mixer which has automatic volume levelling, and set minimums/ maximums that can’t be altered by staff.
Create strict rules for ‘staff’ music
Quite often, music will be switched off on occasion by staff, to play personal music. Most often this occurs after store hours during night fill. Unfortunately, it happens all too often, that a staff members music is accidentally left plugged in and played the next day during store hours. If staff are allowed to play personal music outside of store hours there need to be strict rules in place, ensuring someone is always responsible for unplugging the music at the end of the night.
Play music to suit your store demographic
Store music is one of the easiest, and most effective ways to increase your store ambiance. When you’re shopping in a store which is playing music that you appreciate it’s easy to get lost in time and browse the isles for longer than expected, humming to your favourite tunes. For this method to be effective the music played needs to suit the target consumers. A stores music is a reflection of its brand and its primary market. If your store is part of a chain store collective aim to get a music content provider that can tailor music to each store individually, as different areas won’t necessarily enjoy the same music. If your unsure of what music your customers would like, just ask them. Conduct an in-store survey to ensure you’re playing the music they will enjoy.
Check PA settings before closing each night
There are a number of alerts and sounds that can come over the public address system, particularly after hours. Often sounds such as staff alerts will play on repeat, and if they aren’t switched off will continue to play during opening hours the next day. Most staff wouldn’t know how to adjust settings on the public address system and it’s often unclear which settings are turned on or off. To prevent this from happening invest in a system which lights up to show which input is currently switched on, making it easy on staff to resolve audio issues in seconds.
Minimise visual clutter within the store
Visual advertising within a store can be very effective however it is quite easy to overdo. This results in customers becoming overwhelmed and ignorant of all signage. Ensure that advertising is spread out and not just centralised in certain areas. Walk through your store as if you were the customer, identifying which locations and signage you paid attention too, and which ones just added to the store clutter. Too much clutter distracts people from their shopping goals and reduces the effectiveness of in-store communication.
Ensure navigational signage is sufficient
If you don’t know where you’re going no road will get you there. Consumers need strong navigational clues as to where they should be heading to fulfil their needs. The goal is to make all of the store’s inventory easily available through visual clues. Good way finding throughout a store should be intuitive. By directing your customers with better signage, your staff will spend less time explaining where products are placed and have more time to dedicate to their other responsibilities.
Involve the customers and create a sense of discovery
When a customer is in your store you want to create an experience for them that they will remember, and hopefully contribute to them coming back again in the future. It’s well known that people spend money when they’re enjoying themselves and having a positive experience. The environment should stimulate the consumers senses with interesting sights, smells, tastes and sounds. Not all stores can provide free product samples or food tastings, but think about what your store could offer that customers would enjoy. It may be a demonstration, or even an appearance by someone well known in the industry. The more it involves the customer, the more effective it will be in creating a unique experience for them.
Ensure all staff receive proper training on customer service tactics and provide revision courses for older staff to keep service quality at the forefront of everyones mind. Your store could be ticking every box to create good ambiance, but if a staff member creates a negative experience for a customer then everything else goes out the window. Promote the importance of customer assistance and maybe offer a reward for great customer service to well-performing staff. Ultimately these interactions are what make all the difference in your store.
For more information on effective public address systems go to https://distributionmedia.com.au/information-for-retailers/