News & Trends

3 Intangible Tactics for Successful Retailers

When it comes to retail, everyone agrees on one fact, one purpose for a skillful retailer “the experience”. True retail is all about turning a basic-short-visit into a full pleasurable experience, building for a profitable long term relationship with every customer.

Courteous treatment will make a customer a walking advertisement.- James Cash Penney, Founder of J.C. Penney stores

What differentiates successful retailers from the rest is their ability to achieve a deep understanding of the role perception plays in every visit and every purchase decision made. That’s why we brought you a few tricks that will help you boost the customers’ perception of your merchandise and increase your sales.

Remember that retail is a true art, an art that requires mastering skill and deep understanding of the role perception, personal culture, past experiences and consumers expectations. We shed the light on 3 consumer behavior tricks as Intangible Tactics for Successful Retailers.


Music and Shopping //

Studies have shown that the in-store background music directly affects the browsing style of customers. When the background music is loud and fast (180-beats/minute), customers tend to move faster and spend less time shopping; while customers who were shopping in a more quiet relaxing music (60 beats/minute) spent more time shopping at the store. Although most studies did not show a difference in the amount spent, one particular study (by Miller C.) showed that people who shopped in quiet music generated 38% more revenue that those who did in fast music.


Cart or Basket //

While the trend now is fashionable shopping baskets, you may need to reconsider shopping carts, as shoppers have been shown to make better decisions with a cart rather than a basket. Researchers found that the tension and strain of carrying a basket is likely to induce the shopper to seek immediate gratification and make wasteful and quick purchases. While some retailers might argue that this tactic mostly affects the customer not the store’s sales level, wasteful purchases are quickly regretted and the store is automatically associated in the subconscious with the un-valued/un-needed merchandise, a.k.a “a bad place to shop”.


The Scent Effect //

Scent subconsciously affects the perception of quality; a famous and old experiment explains it best: a group of 250 women were asked to rank 6 pairs of stockings according to quality, while the stockings were identical in brand and color, a floral scent was added to one of them. The results were astounding most of the women ranked the scented stockings as the highest in quality and when asked to explain their choice, all women stated the noticeable superior quality of the fabric, elasticity and color, and non connected their choice to the smell.


A good example from Egypt //

A furniture store in Cairo, used to have a strong smell of home backed cinnamon cookies, in order to help customers visualize the furniture as more cozy and associate it with the feeling of a “home”, automatically making their furniture seem more appealing to customers’ taste in comparison to other identical furniture that is cheaper.

Finally, When it comes to retail always remember that every point of contact with the customer –no matter how miniscule- has the potential to make or break their perception of both the store and the quality of the merchandise in it.


Studies by:

  • Miller C. “The effect of songs on retail sales” – published in the Journal of Applied Psychology.
  • Milliman R. “Using background music to affect the behavior of supermarket shoppers” – published in the Journal of Marketing.
  • Bram Van den Bergh -Erasmus University, Netherlands; Julien Schmitt, Loughborough School of Business and Economics, United-Kingdom; Luk Warlop, Faculty of Business and Economics- Belgium and at the Norwegian School of Management, Norway – Published in the Journal of Marketing Research.
  • Experiment by: Psychologist Dr. Larid D.A – Published in Journal of Psychology. Repeated in recent years by many universities and generating the same results.

Nadine Abou El Atta

A storyteller by hobby and an editor by trade. I spent the past decade crafting editorial strategies to streamline newsrooms, develop social presence, enhance brand positions, and most importantly unify the content direction with business needs.