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Good Store Atmospherics Helps Getting More Customers to your Retail Store

Store atmospherics that is prepared correctly and for your customers to enjoy will help to keep your store’s door open. Indeed, it may give you a competitive advantage over your nearest rivals. Furthermore, a customer that enjoyed a great experience while visiting your shop may return, and tell her friends about you.

After all, businesses have long recognized that humans as consumers are susceptible to all sorts of urges and emotions which guide them toward decisions to buy things they don’t need or didn’t previously recognize they needed, concurs Rob Duboff in the Harvard Business Review.

So, why not using store atmospherics?

What is store atmospherics?

Store atmosphere is the combination of the store’s physical characteristics such as the architecture, its sounds and smells, which together create an image in the customer’s mind 1. In fact, atmospherics can be captured through the five basic human senses, namely sight, sound, smell, touch and taste 2.

The dimensions of store atmospherics are 3:

Visual Dimensions

  1. Color – Colors attract attention, assist evaluation and highlight certain product or store features.
  2. Lighting levels – Task performance improves with increased brightness.
  3. Size and shapes of objects – The size and contrast of objects affect their impact on the individual.

Aural (sound) dimension

Music creates mood and ambience of the store environment. Moreover, music affects perceptions of time. Subsequently the presence of any music may increase expenditure and time spent in store.

Olfactory (smell) atmospherics 4

More so than other sensory cues, a customer’s response to olfactory cues is more likely to be hedonically charged (i.e., either positive or negative). Actually, ambient scent can influence behavior by creating a more positive experience.  “The sense of smell is quite powerful; it can recall memories far more strongly than looking at pictures or even hearing an old song from a faraway time”, suggests Lecia Bushak (Medical Daily).

Tactile (touch or feel) atmospherics

Tactile atmospherics can be described in terms of the sensory-discriminative qualities of softness, smoothness, and temperature 4. Here the merchandise is displayed so shoppers can pick something up and put it back down. “We’re hoping that people really touch it and move around the store with it. We want them to wander and find moments of discovery”, reported Chavie Lieber, in an article about ‘The Anthropologie store’ (RACKED).

Taste atmospherics

The importance of taste atmospherics is underscored by the tremendously visceral reaction it can elicit in consumers 4. For that reason a single negative reaction to something eaten leads to consistent long-term avoidance.

How can you manage store atmospherics?

It is wonderful to know all the dimensions of store atmospherics. However, store atmospherics doesn’t just happens – it needed to be planned, implemented and managed. Consequently its best to start with the basics and then use some common sense.

The fundamentals of store atmospherics

Shari Waters in The Balance highlighted the importance of getting the fundamentals of your store’s atmospherics right.

  • Maintaining a clean, orderly store will do wonders for your establishment. For this purpose, you should eliminate clutter around the cash register, on the floor and other areas where customers congregate.
  • Also, make dusting a priority. Because 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. Therefore, if something is out of place, promptly relocate it to its proper position.
  • If you have public restrooms, keep them sanitary. In fact, 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 daycare.

Of course a customer expects, at the minimum, that the store she visits should be as clean and orderly as her own house…

The right store atmospherics for the right customers

Undoubtedly should retail store owners create a store atmosphere that could be valued by their customers…

For instance, if you’re selling expensive clothing, best will be that your shop furniture and decor reflect class. Additionally, your staff need to be well groomed and dressed smartly. I suppose if you go shopping for an evening gown, and the shop assistant that helps you is wearing a pair of jeans, then something will be wrong with the store’s atmosphere, won’t it?

A fashion retail store that is clean, well organized and pleasant on the eye!

In the same way, fast-food retailers that plays loud music can get customers to choose unhealthy options like burgers and fries because the volume raises heartbeat and stimulation, says Kay Vandette, staff writer. On the other hand, says Kay, soft music that is playing in the background of a restaurant, can make people prefer more healthy options, like salads…

So, getting your store’s atmospherics right will enhance the experience of your customers. Hence your customers are feeling happier, they’ll spend more money at your store. Surely no retailer won’t mind this!


Of course store atmospherics is gaining popularity and becoming an important strategic tool for retailers. Indeed, if you’re thinking about opening up a business of any kind, it’s imperative that you remember the role your store’s atmosphere can play in its success.

It is true that customers not only care about how a store looks and feels, but they’re also likely to make purchasing decisions based on the ambiance of the establishments they patronize. Therefore, if you want to make more sales, attract new customers and retain existing ones, take pride in how your business looks, suggests Shari Waters in The Balance.

Relevant reading: Making Sense of Sensory Marketing

A Marketing Plan helps you to communicate the right content to the right audience.


1 Course in Retail Marketing and Merchandising, Practical Merchandising, Only study guide for CRMM02-X. Centre for Business Management, ©2007-2009, University of South Africa, Pretoria.

2 Jalil, N.A.A., Fikry, A. and Zainuddin, A. 2016. The impact of store atmospherics, perceived value, and customer satisfaction on behavioural intention, Procedia Economics and Finance, 37:538-544.

3 Sachdeva, I. and Goel, S. 2015. Role of Store Atmospherics on Customer Experience, International Journal of Multidisciplinary Approach & Studies, 2(3):72-83.

4 Spence, C., Puccinelli, N.M., Grewal, D. and Roggeveen, A.L. 2014. Store atmospherics: A multisensory perspective, Psychology & Marketing, 31(7):472-488.


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