By Josh Astor
Black Friday, Christmas shopping, and the winter sales rush are over. Consumers around the world are now back to their normal shopping routines, which means that they no longer have the excitement of scoring a great deal, the enjoyment of finding the perfect item for a loved one, and the relief of finishing off a long Christmas shopping list. What is a retailer to do to inspire shopping in the post-holiday season? In order to remain competitive, you should consider employing a few basic psychological tactics that will help inspire customers into the shopping choices you want them to make.
Your Store Layout
As a retailer, your goal is to convince your customers to circulate through the store. You don’t want them to simply make a direct beeline for the item they’re after when they come inside; instead, use a couple of basic layout tricks to leverage the way customers shop in your store. First, make sure that all the merchandise isn’t visible from the front of the store, which will cause customers to wander through to see what else you have to offer and add an extra element of suspense. Suspense is a rich, powerful tool that can cause customers to spend more time with the products your store has to offer. Next, create a sense of flow from one area to the next so that customers can browse throughout display fixtures and different sections in your store to explore what you have to offer.
Focus On Psychology and Emotion
Emotion is another powerful marketing tool that you can use to your advantage. Emotional appeal creates a connection with the store, increasing impulse buys, brand commitment, and motivation to buy. Many small businesses are failing to take advantage of this one simple tactic—and as a result, they’re leaving money on the table! When you help your customers connect with your store and your products emotionally, you’ll find that they’re much more likely to make purchases from you. Consider creating a display that uses personal gift items like picture frames or small collectibles, or try adding scented products. The human sense of smell is a powerful emotional trigger and can often inspire a shopper to make a purchase based on their memories of a time or person or place.
Try Focus Groups
The easiest way to get inside your customers’ heads is to utilize a focus group. These groups will give you a careful look and feedback about what your customers really want from your store, and what drives them to make a purchase. Utilizing focus groups will allow you to get a much clearer look at what your customers are after—and when you know what they want, you can deliver it with ease.
Use Smart and Consistent Messaging
Use your marketing messaging to evoke an emotional response in your customers—and do your best to make that message consistent so that they have the same emotions connected with your store every time they visit. Not only that, consistency makes your brand more recognizable. Words like ‘free’—including free returns, free shipping for online orders, and other things that add only incidental cost to you—can convince customers that they’re getting a deal even when you aren’t changing much. In other cases, you can use words related to gifting, like ‘personalized’ or ‘customized’ or ‘family’ to evoke a warm emotion that will then be connected with your store.
The idea that they’re competing with other shoppers inspires a sense of urgency and excitement. This often includes autonomic nervous system arousal, which can drive impulse buys. Offering “limited time” deals or “specials” that are only available to a select few customers can help make them feel as though they’re competing against other shoppers, driving this response and encouraging them to buy.
There’s plenty of work that goes into planning your store’s layout and your monthly sales, not to mention your well thought-out product choices. It is work that’s well worth the effort when it comes down to the rewards you’ll get, however, you’ll find more loyal customers who are committed to your brand, feel a connection to it, and are willing to spend their money at your store.