For any boutique owner, one of the biggest challenges you face as you grow your business is setting your brand apart. That starts with your style, of course; a unique perspective on fashion and a powerful understanding of the latest trends is essential to success as a boutique owner. But there’s more to the customer interaction than just your merchandise. When customers step into your store, they should have a one-of-a-kind experience that differentiates your brand and seals it into their memory using all of the senses. Here are five unexpected (and surprisingly simple!) ways you can make your store stand out.
A Signature Scent: Did you know that scent is an incredibly important factor in building memories? The olfactory system is closely linked to our experience of a space or event, but you might not think about the smells your customers encounter when they shop in your boutique. In recent years, many brands have started accenting their retail spaces with a signature scent; a famous example is the Capri Blue candle that burns in every Anthropologie store. Other retailers use diffusers that mimic the scents of their perfumes. Consider creating a consistent scent story in your boutique by burning the same candle every day or keeping the same diffuser in the space. (Lighter scents are preferable to avoid overwhelming your customers.) Shoppers will come to associate that scent with your store, cementing it in their memories.
A Welcoming Soundtrack: Like scent, the sound of your boutique is essential for creating an inviting customer experience. A store that’s totally silent can be incredibly off-putting, while music that’s too loud or unusual can usher customers out the door quickly. Psychologists have spent decades studying the effects of music on consumers, and they’ve learned a few key factors that impact buying behavior. First is tempo; slower music encourages customers to spend more time in the store and boosts the average value of each purchase, while faster tempos can make customers move more quickly through the store. Volume is also key, with louder music encouraging customers to shop at a faster pace and leave the store sooner. Finally, music helps to create a sense of privacy as customers shop, so they feel more free to chat with their friends while browsing. Keep these factors in mind when choosing music for your boutique, and don’t be afraid to show off your brand personality when it comes to song selection!
Sips & Snacks: Make a sweet impression on shoppers by occasionally offering small bites and beverages during peak shopping hours. You might consider putting out a tray of locally baked cookies or mini cupcakes during the busiest times in your boutique, or simply offering coffee and water to customers as they try items on. This thoughtful gesture provides a big impact for a relatively minor investment; your customers are likely to remember personalized touches like this long after they leave the store.
Branded Bags: One of the easiest ways to advertise in your community comes in the form of branded tote bags given out to customers with every purchase in your boutique. In place of a standard shopping bag, invest in some simple canvas totes with your logo prominently printed on one side. Your customers can reuse the bags at the grocery store, gym, farmer’s market, and more—providing your boutique with added visibility around town! The bags also reflect your commitment to a sustainable business, a factor that’s increasingly important to many shoppers.
Pop-Up Events: If you work with any local makers or designers, consider inviting them to join you in-store for a special pop-up event that offers an expanded collection of their items. Events like these make your boutique a part of your community, and they can help you gauge customer interest in more products from the local brands you love. Make the pop-up feel like a party by adding some festive décor to the store and offering a few treats for visitors (suggestions above). Don’t forget to spread the word on social media and make sure your pop-up partners cross-post for more exposure!
How do you make sure your store stands out from the crowd? Share your best tips for a special customer experience in the comments!