Enticing customers into your store is only the first part of the challenge for retailers. Once they’re in the door, you still have to convince them to make a purchase. Here’s a simple approach that appeals to human nature—and works: Get shoppers to touch and handle products.
There’s copious research suggesting that customers who touch a product are more inclined to buy. For instance, subjects in a study at Caltech were willing to pay 40 percent to 60 percent more for products they could physically examine (as opposed to just seeing images on a website or in a catalog). In another study, the longer subjects held an item, the more they were willing to pay for it. “Physically holding products can create a sense of psychological ownership, driving must-have purchase decisions,” according to Harvard Business Review.
How to Turn Browsers Into Buyers
Here are five tips to encourage shoppers to touch the merchandise — and to take it home, too.
Get Their Attention
Before shoppers can pick up a product, they have to notice it. Take a cue from the way that supermarkets merchandise their stores. They put high-margin products at eye level, where most shoppers look first, or in high-traffic areas of the store, where more shoppers will pass by. Display the products you most want to sell where customers are most likely to see them.
Use “Destinations” to Spark Impulse Purchases
Create a destination area for products you know lots of customers are interested in. For example, many retailers put sale items at the back of the store, so that customers have to walk through racks of tempting displays to get there. Line the path to the destination area with high-margin items and/or products commonly bought on impulse. Sephora was one of the first retailers to put impulse buys near the point of sale, and now plenty of others are following suit.
Have you ever been in one of those stores surrounded with signs like “You break it, you buy it,” “Do not touch,” and “Parents: watch your children”? You didn’t exactly feel welcome, did you? While it may go against your instincts, encouraging customers to pick up, examine and handle products is a far more effective approach to actually selling them stuff. What if you have fragile or breakable products for sale? Take a cue from Best Buy or the Apple Store and put display models out on the floor for customers to touch and explore.
Engage with Customers
When salespeople use touch appropriately, such as shaking a customer’s hand or lightly touching a shoulder or elbow to guide them, it can prompt customers to spend more money, according to Harvard Business Review. Salespeople who are assisting customers can hand them products to look at or urge them to feel the heft of a garment.
If your store displays look too neat and perfect, customers won’t want to disturb them by touching the products. Create a little bit of purposeful mess so shoppers will feel comfortable plowing through that pile of sweaters. Remind your salespeople not to fold or straighten products while customers are nearby; plenty of shoppers will feel guilty about undoing the salesperson’s work right in front of them.
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