A Guide to the Best Ambiance for a Brick-and-Mortar Business

For decades, retail stores have worked to make their interior design, music choices, and ambiance appealing to as many customers as possible. With the rise of online shopping, some retailers struggled to retain a loyal customer base; however, recent market research shows that in-person shopping in brick-and-mortar stores is still very popular.

Modern shoppers expect more than just numerous options from shopping in a brick-and-mortar business. They expect a full experience catered to their convenience and relaxation.

This means that creating an ambiance through design elements and in-store options, which unify your store’s brand, is more important than ever. There are several approaches to creating an ambiance for a business, and one of the simplest and most effective is music.

How Retailers Can Create Store Ambiance

Any business with patrons benefits from creating a unique atmosphere. Retail essentially involves the sale of merchandise from the point of production to those who want to use the product.

Here are some examples of businesses with storefronts that can be helped by considering their ambiance:

  • Department stores
  • Grocery stores
  • Supermarkets
  • Farmers’ markets
  • Warehouse retailers
  • Boutique or specialty retailers
  • Thrift stores
  • Clothing outlets
  • Mobile retailers
  • Discount sales

There are several advantages that these storefronts have over online shopping or mobile purchases. Here are the top five, which you can use as a starting point to manage your brand and create an ambiance for your store:

  1. Local attraction: By creating an attractive exterior in a location with significant foot traffic or the potential for lots of parking, you have the ability to draw shoppers into your store based on sight. One study found that 65 percent of shoppers preferred to purchase at a local retailer when an item was available both online and in-person. While they may do price comparisons and feature comparisons online, finding this item in a brick-and-mortar store is usually more attractive. You just have to let your customers know you can give them that item.
  2. The showroom: Although most customers do price comparisons in their spare time online, they may benefit from having other options compared in a showroom. Demonstrations and interactive displays are increasingly important for all kinds of products, so offering these in your store can help customers make their final decision.
  3. Knowledgeable staff: There may be email, phone numbers, FAQ pages, and even chat programs on websites to help online customers, but most people still prefer to get in-person help with their product question. Having well-trained, friendly staff members means that your customers will be more likely to be satisfied with their purchases from your store.
  4. Trust: The process of seeing and experiencing products, with friendly staff members who are trained in customer service, builds brand loyalty and trust with customers faster than any label or flashy promotion ever could.

Your brick-and-mortar store is well set up to provide these aspects of a good business. Creating ambiance means that you can ease anxiety or stress, bring up positive feelings or memories, and more closely associate your brand with a good shopping experience.

Things to Consider In Your Brick-and-Mortar Establishment

There are several approaches to creating ambiance for your brick-and-mortar location. Here are a few recommendations:

  • Maintain a clean and orderly store. Of course, this means you have employees who keep surfaces clean, keep products in their proper order, and ensure that any food items that could expire do not stay out overnight. This extends beyond clean floors and cash register areas, though. Interior design can create a feeling of cleanliness or lead to a sense of clutter and even claustrophobia. Think about how products relate to one another, how light enhances different areas, and how your customers might move through the store to find what they want.
  • Use colors and light. Some people prefer muted colors, others want bright or shiny storefronts, and still others want a darker or dimmer atmosphere. What sort of demographic group are you trying to attract? This can change everything from the color of your signs and advertising, to how products are lit inside your store.
  • Maintain a pleasant temperature. Is it a warm summer day? Make sure your store is cooler than the outside. Is it the middle of winter and there’s snow on the ground? Make sure your store is warm and inviting. The general concept of “room temperature” is between 65- and 75-degrees Fahrenheit, but you may offer heaters in certain areas near the door on cold days, or provide cool drinks in some parts of your store on hot days.
  • Communicate clearly. Your customers need to easily find employees for help; they also need written communication about your products, but not too much because that can leave them feeling overwhelmed. You may consider overhead announcements to provide information about sales or events, keep a message board, or even use an internet service attached to a smart TV so your customers can talk to each other through text. Aisles should be labeled properly. Provide all the needed information, but make sure your customers do not feel cramped with too much information overwhelming their decision-making process.
  • Maintain connectivity. Your business may be brick-and-mortar, but you should definitely have a website and a social media presence. This is often how customers find new places to shop – either in advance because they are looking for specific products, or in the moment while they are shopping other places. Having a solid, well-crafted online presence builds trust with your customers, and it provides a way for them to interact with you. They can like your social profiles, post images of items they’ve bought, and even access promotions through your website or other pages.

These are all steps you can take to manage the look and feel of your business, but there are other tools that work more subconsciously. Light and color start to trigger emotions about your business, and sound is another amazing tool to soothe or energize your patrons.

How Music Creates Atmosphere

Music has an incredible psychological power in humans. The harmony, tempo, and volume of songs can both positively and negatively impact listeners. Music has similar features to language, so the human brain interacts with it to create a sense of meaning or narrative. You can use this power to associate specific sensations or memories with your brand.

These are the key parts of music to consider when building your playlist to create a positive ambiance for your business.

  • Volume: Most studies on music consistently show that the volume of music greatly impacts shopping behavior. Music that is too loud is distracting, so shoppers tend to leave because they cannot manage the retail experience and the music at the same time. Loud music also makes shoppers feel like more time has passed, so they may rush through the store without buying much, if anything. However, high-quality hardware like speakers and amplifiers can change the perception of volume by removing static or adjusting the quality of the sound from the player.
  • Genre: Shoppers’ preference for genre tended to reflect their age or demographic group more specifically than other aspects of music. Younger shoppers tend to prefer modern or pop songs while older shoppers prefer background, instrumental music. Studies also show that themed music can improve the shopping experience in certain ways; for example, during the holidays, playing holiday-themed music can draw shoppers to your holiday promotions. A study of wine shoppers found that playing classical music led a group to purchase more expensive wine, although they did not purchase more wine overall.
  • Tempo: Studies in the early 1980s found that faster-tempo music caused shoppers to move more rapidly through grocery stores without causing them to buy less. Other kinds of retail stores may want to play slower music because they rely more on upsells, promotions, and browsing; slower and less familiar music causes shoppers to slow down and relax. In restaurants, faster music caused patrons to chew faster, which may be good for some restaurants, as they can turn over seating faster. Other restaurants may want patrons to slow down because they can sell more food and drink per group.
Even when some shoppers prefer foreground music, it may be to your benefit to start with background music. This can ease your business into the musical world as you determine exactly the type of music you want to play.

There are legal aspects of using music in your business you must consider before you plug in your smartphone and play a special playlist. Performing rights organizations (PROs) hold copyrights to music on behalf of composers, musicians, artists, and music publishers. These organizations sell different types of licenses so businesses can access songs in different ways. The money from these licenses goes to the music creators in the form of royalties, ensuring that they are paid appropriately for their work.

To get access to music for your business, you either must buy a license from a PRO – likely purchasing multiple licenses from several PROs to get all the music you want – or you can work with a business-focused music streaming service. This is a very convenient way of legally playing music in your brick-and-mortar business. Call us today to learn more.


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