4 basics of creating a comfortable store environment

A core requirement of any retail business, is to provide a comfortable store environment for your prospective customers. After all, assuming you do in fact run a physical shop, rather than simply being entirely web-based, it would be unreasonable to think that people would want to use your services if the entire experience was unpleasant from start to finish.

Of course, there are all sorts of things you could do that might potentially increase sales, but that wouldn’t necessarily make the shopping experience more “comfortable.” Grocery stores, for example, will often famously put cheaper items near the front of the shop, as a way of enticing customers in, only to then hook them with more expensive goods.

There are also somewhat mystical sounding claims that painting your store with a certain colour palette, or playing a certain type of music through the speaker system, will lead to an increase in sales.

All such claims are beyond the scope of this article. The point here is simply to suggest a few basic ways to create a comfortable store environment, where people feel that they can have a pleasant shopping experience, rather than having to suffer through it.

Here are some suggestions.

Manage temperature properly

Proper temperature control is one of the most fundamental components, perhaps, of setting up a comfortable and thoughtfully maintained store, for the sake of promoting a leisurely and enthusiastic shopping experience.

No matter how good your store looks, no matter what you sell, and no matter how much money you spent on your graphic designs, no one is going to feel good about shopping with you, if your shop turns into a sweatbox in the summer, and a freezer in the winter.

Your first order of business should be to install systems to maintain a comfortable temperature, regardless of the time of year. Heating systems to be activated in winter, for one thing, but also commercial fans, such as those available from Just Fans, for cooling things in the summer.

Of course, fans and radiators are all very well, but they don’t account for the entire issue of temperature management on their own. You also need to ensure that your store building is well insulated, you need to see that the windows have double glazing, ensure that the doors fit snugly in their frames, and so on.

Additionally, you might want to look into changing the kind of carpeting you have on the floors, the kinds of paint you use on the walls, and other more minor factors that may nonetheless play a role.

Present the most popular and everyday items in clear view, near the front of the store

It may be that a grocery store can benefit from putting bread and milk near the front of the store, but even if you run an electronics company, focusing on high-end goods, you should absolutely present the most popular and “every day” of the items you sell, in clear view, near the front of the store.

In all probability, most people who enter your store will be looking for the most popular items. Not many aspects of the shopping experience are considered as universally frustrating and unwelcome as roaming around a shop, looking for an item that should be a clear display, and finding it impossible to locate.

If there’s any chance that your store might be arranged in a chaotic, or an unintuitive manner, shift the aisles around so that people have the best possible chance of finding what they want in a hurry, under their own steam, and without needing to ask for help.

Arrange things so that the tills (and staff) are clearly visible

If not being able to easily find the items they want is the number one frustration that a customer might have in a shop, not being able to easily locate the tills (or any staff members) is undoubtedly a close second.

If you operate a larger store, in particular, make the tills clearly visible. Have signs pointing towards them, and have the tools themselves isolated as separate “islands”, as much as possible. Avoid “tucking” the tills away, somewhere in a nondescript corner of the shop, obscured by high shelves, and with no clear signage.

If someone has to spend 10-minutes looking for the tills, they may not walk out of the shop without making a purchase, but they are pretty unlikely to come back, or to recommend the store to a friend.

Likewise, no matter how intuitive you think your store is, and no matter whether or not you’ve got self-checkout facilities set up with the highest quality modern technology, you simply need to have members of staff on hand to address customer concerns, answer questions, and all the rest.

If your shop is understaffed, and if those staff members are hidden away in the back, or apparently materialise at irregular intervals, customers are going to feel that the whole experience is impersonal, and that the shop is somehow unaccountable to their wishes.

Arrange things in the shop so that the tills, and staff, are clearly visible, and so that there is always someone on shift whose job it is to deal with confused-looking customers.

Go for a “minimalist”, “decluttered” approach to arrangement and organisation

Your shop should be a pretty tidy place. That is to say, anything that isn’t directly relevant to the customer shopping experience should be excluded ruthlessly, for the sake of making the environment more streamlined, attractive, and intuitive.

“Minimalism” is something that gets talked about a lot these days, as a de-cluttered home environment is meant to improve your quality of life.

Well, by the same token, a de-cluttered shop environment is going to improve your customers’ experience.

Try to create aisles which are sufficiently wide for people to pass by each other easily, without bumping against one another (research has shown that when people brush against each other in a shop, even casually, they will often almost immediately leave), and minimise any ornaments or decorations that could make the place appear too “busy.”