It all started off simply, as most things do, with the barter system. The barter system was one where people who wanted to buy something, had to give something they owned to the other person in exchange. Then came the
concept of currency and the effort to evaluate commodities in terms of money. The commodities on sale still came under the bracket of basic needs.
The Inevitable Growth for Better or for Worse
Then things started to get complex bit by bit as people's needs advanced into wants, and the market for various other goods started becoming as important as that for basic commodities. Small shops grew in size and scope
into bigger stores. Mass retailing began in the 1800s and catalogueing was introduced. The first shopping centres reared their heads. Currency was transformed to credit cards, and retail chains made their entry.
This was subsequently followed by department stores, malls, discount stores, franchising and the rest. Manufacturers started investing in showrooms and buying and selling started its upward growth towards consuming
one's entire lifestyle.
The Next Step Already Taken
Then the retail store went online. And while the market got bigger, the store sizes are now getting smaller, with no one losing out in the process. Sellers saved on space, buyers saved on time. Added to this was the
ability of offering and choosing from a wider range of products at one's own convenience.
But still the charm of a physical retail store remains
While many consumers are not that technology savvy yet, or want to see the garment on themselves in the trial room, or treat it either as a family outing or a reason to get away from the family for a
while, the reasons are varied why a physical retail store has not really gone out of fashion and perhaps never will. There are reasons for the sellers to hold onto this physical way to connect with
their consumers too even though they might have equal online presence. This is because they understand the consumers' need to touch, see, smell, hear and maybe even taste what they are buying. The
senses play an important part in purchase decisions, but more on that in a bit. It also allows sellers to display products in a way so they get people's attention and end up being an unplanned purchase.
A Few Tips You Will find in The Science Book
How you plan the layout of your retails store is almost a science. Here are a few insights one can garner from what some of the leading stores over the world are doing. First is the threshold area where
the prospective customer steps in and enters the store world while leaving the real world behind. This is where first and lasting impressions are formed. It would be the best place to concentrate
on lights, colours and displays as all these things set the mood. Products placed in this area will more often than not be missed. Next the consumer, as studies show, invariably turns to the right.
The first wall they see there is called the Power Wall. This is the best place to display products that have high impact like seasonal products or those on high demand. Your next job is the chalk
the route your customer will take unconsciously while walking through your store. Usually, where the eyes go, the feet follow. Keep that in mind while displaying products and floor texturing or even
direction arrows. An eye catching display at the end of each aisle usually keeps them moving in the right direction so they are exposed to all your items. At the same time, remember to slow them
down in their walk. Do this by creating visual breaks in the forms of digital signages or displays. Keep high demand products at eye level. The list goes on.
A few tips you will find in the common sense book
Give your store a short catchy name. Keep some dummy customers crowded around merchandise you want to generate interest in. Put a sticker saying SOLD on some items, say in a furniture store, to make it look like these
are in demand and will be sold out soon. Keep printed catalogues everywhere. Use mirrors to make the store look bigger and the number of items more in number. Have a little relaxation zone where people can rest
a while and maybe buy something to eat or drink. Have an activity area to entertain the kids so their mothers can spend more time choosing what to buy. Spare a thought on window display. It is what will bring new
customers into your store.
Train the people in uniform
The salesperson is an integral part of the physical retail store. They should be hired only if they have people skills, and trained to hone these skills further. They should understand the importance and psychology
of human interaction and be a friend or an informed guide instead of a sales person who simply points you to the aisle you are looking for. They should be quick to understand the customer’s needs and make suggestions
accordingly, preferably in a non-formal way, while not overdoing it either. They should think long term and sell people on value, in an honest sincere way. They should recommend products while talking about their
unique features and how it will benefit that particular customer in a special way. They should not be afraid to say they are not informed about something, but get back to the customer after being further informed.
Last and not the least, they should be willing to learn from their mistakes and work towards bettering themselves.
The importance of catering to the five senses
Nowadays a retail store does not just showcase the items to be sold. They cater to the five senses of the customer in order to make them unconsciously feel good about buying at that particular retail store. And that
has a huge impact on sales. Touch and see are usually taken care of in a physical store. Taste can be taken care of in food stores where you can sample a cookie before buying a bunch. Smell does not just have to
be restricted to the perfume department. Having a store that has an overall relaxing fragrance will calm a person down and make him or her want to spend more time in the store and go over what to buy. About hearing,
in store music can make all the difference in the world. It should be chosen with care to appeal to the target group. Its tempo can either speed up or slow down the pace of the person walking through the store.
It can have a calming effect so the customer would want to spend more time there. It could enliven the atmosphere in festive seasons to get the customers more into the mood. It can also be used to intersperse the
music with in-store advertising that would inform the customers about what they may have missed out on.
To sum it up
The retail store has evolved over the years from being just a place to buy and sell, to a place that influences the customer to buy more in many subliminal ways. By connecting with the customer as a person, and not
just someone who has a need which has to be met. By making shopping an experience instead of a task.