If you’ve ever wandered into a Barnes & Noble bookstore, you know that there are plenty of reasons to linger. In addition to the pleasant atmosphere and enticing aroma’s from the in-store coffee shop, the store includes a variety of seating options that invite you to sit awhile, whether you’re seeking solitude or community.

Recently, the book retailer also added technology to enhance the shopping experience. This innovation includes giving customers the ability to text questions and comments to store staff, as well as check inventory, and pay for purchases at self-serve kiosks throughout the store.

It seems Barnes & Noble understands a thing or two about the concept of keeping customers in their store longer to increase the chances of making a sale.

From upbeat music and seasonal scents to strategic merchandising, there are many ways you, as a retailer, can entice shoppers to stay longer and buy more.  Here are a few tips you can use to create an air of blissful consumption:

Provide Shopping Carts, Baskets, and/or Totes –  Walk into a Bath & Body Works store and you’ll probably be approached by a sales associate offering you a shopping bag to carry your potential purchases in. It’s a smart move. Why?

Customers are more likely to spend longer periods of time in your store when they have a cart, basket, or tote to fill up. Even if your store is small, you should still offer some type of basket or bag to help customers carry their items. After all, they can only fill their arms so much, but with a basket…well, you get the picture.

“Surprise & Delight” Your Customers –  Retailers face bigger challenges today than ever before when it comes to attracting customers to their bricks-and-mortar stores and keeping them there longer to increase the chances of making a sale. One way to do that is by “surprising and delighting” shoppers with items that pique their curiosity or interest and keep them browsing.

For example, you could set up a free photo op in the middle of a video display for a new movie just out on DVD. Or, you might display some fun novelty items in the midst of a big ticket item you’re trying to sell. You might even consider offering discount coupons or a simple, low-to-no-cost freebie that customers aren’t expecting. Additionally, displaying signs advertising special deals throughout the store can also help direct customers to strategic areas designed to get them to shop longer.

Unexpected surprises will delight customers and help create personal connections with them that may also increase loyalty.

Train Your Employees to be Welcoming & Helpful – According to Forbes “friendly and helpful associates are the biggest reason for in-store visits.” Customers like being greeted by staff members who make them feel welcome. Treating all customers alike, whether they buy or not, is important if you want to leave a lasting impression and encourage them to return to your store.

Don’t let customers leave without some sort of interaction from your staff, whether it’s a friendly smile, a useful tip, or some important product information.

Making your customers’ shopping experience as comfortable as possible is also an effective way to get them to stay awhile. For instance, when customers walk into your store with extra bags or winter coats, associates could offer to store their items while they shop. This will allow them to shop unencumbered and free up their arms to grab products off shelves or racks. You could also create a safe play area for children (like they do at Ikea) so parents can shop worry free.

Offer Demonstrations, Videos or Interactive Displays – From video lessons to in-store product demonstrations, these tactics give shoppers something to stick around for. If you’re a home food storage retailer, for example, you might demonstrate how to cook a quick, delicious meal with your products and offer samples of either the ingredients you used or the prepared meal itself.

If you’re a small business, like a local surf shop, you could demonstrate how to wax a surfboard and have an interactive surfing game on display that customers can try out. The key is to think of clever ways that will make customers want to linger in your store.

Captivate Your Customers by Engaging Their Senses – Think of the last store you visited that made a lasting impression on you. Did it smell like fresh roasted coffee? Was it visually pleasing? Was someone playing soothing music on a piano?

Whether you engage customers with enticing aromas, inspiring displays, or delicious food samples, appealing to their five senses will make them want to linger. Creating a sensory experience will also help customers feel content or happy in your store environment that could potentially tempt them to spend money.

Conclusion

In today’s competitive landscape, retailers must employ creative ways to attract customers and encourage them to stay and spend.

“If you get the customer to stay a few extra moments in the store and spend a little extra money, all while giving them what they wanted, then you’ve won…But if the customer leaves feeling they’ve wasted their time, then the retailer loses.”

 

~ C. Britt Beemer, chairman of America’s Research Group, a marketing firm, via The Street

Use the steps listed above “to create an air of blissful consumption” that will keep customers in your store longer and increase your chances of making more sales.

 

About Author

Sherene Funk

Sherene Funk is a voracious reader who owns more books than she can ever read in this lifetime (but that doesn't stop her from collecting more). A graduate of Brigham Young University, she has published several humorous non-fiction articles and worked in advertising for many years before moving to her current position as a writer on modern retailing at Rain Retail Software.

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