Why Store Atmosphere Matters to Your Customers

Two shop owners in discussion in clothing boutique
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If you're thinking about opening up a business of any kind, it's imperative that you remember the role that store atmosphere can play in its success. Customers not only care about how a store looks and feels, they're also likely to make purchasing decisions based on the ambiance of the establishments they patronize. So, if you want to make more sales, attract new customers and retain existing ones, take pride in how your business looks.

What Is the Definition of Store Atmosphere?

Simply put, store atmosphere includes the physical characteristics of a retail store used to create an image in order to attract customers. It's also known as atmospherics for short. It is a direct contributor to customer experience, which is the most important element of retail today. 

The Basics

If you don't know where to begin in the store atmosphere process, start with the basics. Maintaining a clean, orderly store will do wonders for your establishment. That means eliminating clutter around the cash register, on the floor and other areas where customers congregate.

Also, make dusting a priority. When customers pick up a product, they're less likely to purchase it if it's covered in weeks, or even months, worth of dust. After all, would you want to walk out of a store with a new purchase that's covered in grime?

In addition to keeping the merchandise clean, you should also keep it organized.

If something is out of place, promptly relocate it to its proper position.

If you have public restrooms, keep them sanitary. That goes double if you run an establishment that customers expect to be clean, such as a business that customers visit for medical treatment or a restaurant or day care. 

Create an Atmosphere That Will Attract Your Target Clientele

When creating the ambiance for your store, it's important to keep in mind who your desired clients are.

If your target patrons are teeny boppers, you'll likely want to have bright colors and upbeat pop music playing in your store. Lighting and trendy fixtures may be all you need to create a hip atmosphere for young customers.

If you own an antique store and want an ambiance that reflects that, you might choose to go with dimmer lights. And in this case, it might be more acceptable to customers to have a bit more crowding on the store floor. 

Why Ambience Matters

Research shows that store atmosphere leaves a distinct impression on customers. The 1997 study "Store Atmosphere, Mood and Purchasing Behavior" found that customers rate establishments differently based on atmosphere. The study compared two furniture stores, one with a "pleasant" atmosphere and one with an unpleasant ambiance. It concluded: 

"Customers' mood – measured at the beginning, in the middle and at the end of their shopping – was shown to improve in the pleasant and to deteriorate in the less pleasant store. Satisfaction with the store was greater in the pleasant store. ..Customers in the pleasant store spontaneously spent more money on articles they simply liked."

This occurred simply because of the impact the store had on customer mood.

So, if you want patrons to spend more time and more money in your store, create an ambiance they will enjoy.