See and Feel the Relationship Between You and
What is at the foundation of Retail Store Design and Visual Merchandising?" If
I could boil it down to two principles that guide everything, it would be these:
1. Don't think. Feel.
Now, don't get me wrong here - I am about as strategic as they come regarding
However, having said that, everything that I do in designing a
store experience is targeted at the customer's emotional response.
purchases are emotionally based. And I'm being generous with the 0.01% - I have
yet to have anyone show me a purchase that they've made that doesn't have an
emotional element to it.
One famous example is: a presenter asks everyone in
his seminar to look at their watch. He explains, "If you spent more than $20 on
your watch, it was for emotional reasons."
In today's world, a $20 watch will
keep time just as well as a $6,500 watch. (For that matter, we all have time on
our cell phones, so who needs a watch?)
And yet, millions of people
are still spending the additional $6,480 to make themselves feel special, elite,
sophisticated, refined, discriminating, successful.
The same can be said for
the store environment. We buy things from stores that make us feel the way we
want to feel about ourselves - stores that are in alignment with the way we want
to be perceived by others.
In any purchase decision, feelings will always trump
thoughts. How do your stores make your customers feel?
2. Stop looking at your stores through your own eyes, and start seeing them
through your customer's eyes.
One of the greatest values that we bring to our clients is the ability to see
their stores through the eyes of an outsider - through the eyes of their
You can do this too - and you must, if you want to connect with your
Step outside. Get some distance from your stores (literally, if you
have to) and then come back and see them with the eyes of someone who has never
seen them before.
Put yourself into the mindset of your customer. What is
their life like? What do they want? What do they need? What do they worry
about? What do they aspire to?
Forget everything that you know about the
behind-the-scenes operations, the company history, the insider knowledge of what
you're capable of as a company.
See only what is - what is in the space here
and now - and see if it from the perspective of someone asking themselves, "Does
this feel like me? Does it feel like the me that I aspire to be?"
As a company
there is likely a long list of things that you would want customers to know
about you as they shop your stores.
Are the most important ones being
communicated by the store environment itself? And again, if viewed through the
eyes of your customer, do your stores make you feel the way you would want to
feel in order to be inspired to buy something just to be able to take that
feeling home with you?
Most of us at one time or another during our upbringing, or during our education
in preparation for entering the business world were taught to "dress for
What that means and looks like will differ from person to person
depending on their own unique personality, the response they're hoping to get
from people, and the environment in which they're trying to succeed.
the same way. Whether they're "dressed for success" or not will depend on their
unique personality (your Brand), the response they're hoping to get from
customers (the emotional reaction that leads to a purchase), and the environment
in which they're trying to succeed (the marketplace and competitor pool).
Successful store designs are a function of combining a series of seemingly minor
elements - space planning, fixture selection, lighting, colors and materials,
signage and graphics - that, when taken together become a powerful, emotional
It all begins with Seeing and Feeling the relationship
between you and your customer.
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