Oct 3, 2006

Shop Talk Volume 4

A boutique's atmosphere is more important than you might think.

So many times I hear my customers walk in and say "oh, it smells so good in here!" Or they ask me what is that music I am playing. Or they walk right up to the burning candle and want to know what am I burning. Or they pick up the huge block of French soap.

Welcome to Volume 4 of my "business of boutiques" series. Today, I want to spend a moment to talk about what impression your boutique gives your customers. Ask yourself this question: What is the one thing I want my customers to think or do after they leave my store? Besides telling all of their friends, you want them to remember you and your store when it comes time to buy that special gift. And research has shown that the sense of smell is the strongest sense out of all five senses. A smell can revive a long lost memory quicker than a photo, a sound, or a touch.

A wonderful scent is so needed! However, you have to be careful about allergies or overpowering the store with a scent, or too many different scents. I sell wonderful lavender soaps and when they first come in, they are so strong! I put them near the door so customers smell them immediately, but as they make their way towards the back of the store, the scent fades and doesn't overpower them. Also, take note of the type of scent you provide. Does it go with the mood of your store? If your boutique sells clean, modern glass and metal vases and lamps, then a baby powder scent just won't go with the store's atmosphere.

Besides having a great scent, lovely music is wonderful too. I have to say, I just can't stand going into a little store and there is no music playing. Even worse, if there is a TV on and the volume is up. Music can be soothing, or exciting, or upbeat. Your boutique will dictate what type of music that will go with your products. I happen to talk a lot with my customers (no surprise there) and I find instrumental music best. I don't want to compete with Celine Dion - she would win every time against my Texas accent and fast rate of speech. Not a great combination. I want my customers to feel like they can linger, visit, smell the candles and soaps and listen to calming music. Because once they leave my store, it is so hetic in the "real world."

Great displays are necessary. I will have a shop talk volume on merchandising next time. For now, make sure your store allows for a stroller. That boxes and inventory are put away. (Okay, as I speak, I have a box right in front of the store holding a beautiful bronze and crystal chandelier that I have yet to hang up....I am hoping that my wonderful scents and soothing music will help my customers overlook that big ugly box - not likely, but worth a try.)

I take as much product out of packaging (unless the packaging is just fabulous) and let my customers touch and feel. I try to avoid plastic at all costs. Women are touchers. Have you ever watched a woman go shoe shopping? Think about it. We stop, look, touch, pick up and feel the shoe -the outside of the shoe. Not until we are satisfied with what we feel, do we ask for a shoe in our size to try on. Really, that is what we do. Never mind that once we actually buy the shoe and wear it, we no longer feel it, we just put it on and go. We don't reach down during the day and touch the outside of our shoe, now do we? But we sure did when we were deciding to buy it or not. Think about that when putting your store together. What can your customers touch?

I hope this volume helps you to really think about your store and what impression your customers walk away with when they leave it. Take time to make your boutique one that people will not only talk about, but will actually bring in their friends because "they just have to visit it!!" What a wonderful compliment.

from my house to your house,



Anonymous said...

Elizabeth, you are so right, here in my shop the one thing I over - stock on is Lavender, candles, soaps, lotions, people just love it, I like to use organic lavender that is grown in France, it has a very distinctive scent, I use it in most of the toilettries I make, I have been blending it with patchouli and sandalwood, it is Fabulous, and it is true the sense of smell is amazing and people really react to it the minute they walk in to the store. Some day I would love to come to your shop and meet you, you seem so kind and seem to have a wonderful personality and Karma, and lets not forget you are a strong hardworking woman, more power to you!!!! Talk to you soon. Chiara

Elizabeth Maxson said...

Thank you Chiara! Your store sounds lovely and I am sure your customers would agree.

Hope to meet you some day!

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