Over the past decade as the economy has changed, so has the brick and mortar landscape. As online sales increased, what retailers were seeing more and more was that when consumers do choose to come in a retail store and shop, their attention spans are shorter and the expectation for service, selection and presentation is higher. With the average person’s attention span being eight seconds or less, there is a very short window to grab someone’s attention.
Customer service and product availability are top priorities for many shoppers, but the décor, design, and ease of shopping in any retail environment are also factors to getting them to purchase. A compelling atmosphere and the overall story that a business tells is important. Shopping is becoming more of an experiential experience and now, with trending exhibits attracting consumers, (Candytopia, Dream Machine, ColorFactory) retail business owners should be focused on enhancing their overall physical environment. All touch points including sight, smell and sound along with clean, easy to shop environments with interesting décor and displays are what attracts customers and encouraging them to stay, and ultimately spend more money.
The lines of retail and restaurants have also been crossed with this focus. More and more, we are seeing blurred lines in this category and business owners are getting creative so that they can differentiate themselves from the competition. With food markets such as Eataly that cross retail and dining and the recently opened Roman and Williams Guild, a home décor shopping experience as well as a café and restaurant, the trend is now shifting. The goal is to create an in-store experience different from the competition while still encouraging customers to relax, rest or have a drink while they shop.
Another differentiating factor to consider in the physical environment to attract more customers? A “WOW” moment to share. Consumers are consistently photographing and posting their experiences on social media now more than ever. An interesting display or differentiating factor in a physical environment can instantly get shared, become viral, and a business can quickly flourish.
So, what exactly is a “WOW” factor? It’s all about branding and diversification as well as overall ambiance and design. There should be something that makes the physical experience different than the other retail store, restaurant or bar next door. Magic Hour Rooftop NYC is a carnival themed bar and restaurant and along with oversized topiary animals, neon signs and cartoon like statues, there is an actual moving carousel for customers to sit and dine on or have drinks. Pietro Nolita is small Italian restaurant on the east side on New York City. With plenty of photo ops to capture and share on Instagram, this is an excellent example of how a smaller business can create buzz through a unique and memorable environment. The interiors of the restaurant are all painted in pink, and the details are not forgotten with kitschy pink napkins, painted pink exteriors and a pink neon sign outside.
The complete experience is paramount in any business and that is why brick and mortar is not going away. It has changed, and the bar has been raised. Compelling ambiance and interiors are now on the forefront of any brick and mortar experience. In addition to having a quality food or product as well as selection, customer service and location, any new business owner must also grasp that the overall environment should be a unique and memorable experience in order to succeed.