Consumer experience agency Mood Media has found that shoppers want an experience and will choose bricks-and-mortar over online if they get it.
While many believe that shoppers are overwhelmingly moving to online, 79 per cent of Australians are very/fairly likely to choose a store over online if there is an enjoyable atmosphere (music, visuals, scent).
So, in order to succeed, shops need to ensure that they are creating an experience in-store and an enjoyable atmosphere – something online cannot offer.
The research, ‘Elevating the Customer Experience: The Impact of Sensory Marketing’, was conducted by Walnut Unlimited, a global market research agency specialising in neuroscience and behavioural psychology and economics.
More than 10,000 consumers were surveyed across 10 countries worldwide including Australia, China, United Kingdom, the United States, France, Benelux, Germany and Spain.
Mood Media global senior vice president of marketing and creative content Scott Moore said: “Consistent with our 2017 State of Brick & Mortar study, we found that the physical store remains important to the majority of people around the world, with the experiential element playing a large role in consumers’ decision to choose brick and mortar over e-commerce.
“It also further highlights that brick and mortar businesses have to give consumers a reason to get off the sofa and into the store, and part of that reason lies in providing them an elevated sensorial experience.
“Brands should look to this report to discover how they can create the kinds of store environments that will convert shoppers into buyers and loyal repeat customers.”
Atmosphere is key
Atmosphere – music, visuals, scent – was repeatedly highlighted by respondents as what will encourage repeat customers and longer shopping times.
If there is an enjoyable atmosphere 86 per cent of Australians are very/fairly likely to re-visit a store, and 70 per cent of Australians are very/fairly likely to stay longer in store.
And with all businesses vying for word of mouth referrals, shops should take note that 76 per cent of Australians are very/fairly likely to recommend a store to friends and family if there is an enjoyable atmosphere.
Mood Media Australia MD Steve Hughes said: “Our research has shown definitively that there is still a demand for bricks and mortar shops.
“Consumers want to enjoy the experience of shopping and this is something that online stores simply cannot offer.
“Attracting shoppers with an enticing atmosphere and then encouraging purchases with a hands-on experience are key to increasing purchases.”
The ability to try different products or services is cited globally as the biggest driver in making consumers more likely to want to buy in brick and mortar.
Music driving shoppers
Music has often been recognised as a key ingredient in the consumer experience, and rightly so.
It is the number one factor to improve a shopper’s mood in-store and has an overall positive impact on 85 per cent of shoppers globally.
However, the quality of the music played really matters. More than half (57 per cent) of global shoppers will disengage if brands make poor music choices.
62 per cent of Australians have enjoyed listening to music in-store recently and 45 per cent have stayed in store longer than they would have done because they’ve enjoyed the music.
Clothing stores were clearly the leading segment when it came to shoppers enjoying music while in-store with nearly 80 per cent of respondents saying they had enjoyed music while shopping in clothes stores.
“Music is such an important component in the shopping experience. It can lift the mood, create a calming atmosphere that drives shoppers to take their time, and even give the staff an all-important pep-up in the afternoon,” said Hughes.
“A carefully curated playlist can increase the daily takings, time in-store and repeat store visits.”
The smell of success
But atmosphere is not just about the eyes and ears.
Engaging all the senses is another way that stores are creating an experience for shoppers, and Australians are paying attention, with 63 per cent noticing that some stores have a pleasant and inviting smell.
With competition higher than ever between stores, using additional atmospheric techniques such as scent could mean the difference between a customer coming into store or walking past.
Screens have become relatively commonplace within shopping centres, but not all individual stores utilise them.
Over half of those surveyed in Australia said they had been attracted into a clothes shop or stayed longer because of engaging content on the window or inside screens.
Only behind China in this response, it is clear that Australian clothing retailers should not only consider window content, but also how screens can maximise the shopping experience in-store.
In quick service restaurants the use of digital menu boards is resonating with people, with over half of those surveyed giving attention to digital screens with interactive and useful content.
“If the high street is to continue to entice shoppers away from online, it must always put the customer first and consider what it is offering the consumer, not just the products it is selling.
“Consumers aren’t just buying a product when in-store; they’re buying an experience and they are demanding it with their feet.
“For many, shopping is a form of entertainment and bricks and mortar stores have a real advantage.
“Done right, shops can see new customers, higher numbers of repeat visits, longer in-store dwell times and more recommendations,” added Hughes.