QB Point of Sale Retail

How Sound Can Cost Customers

By Leah Swain, Contributor (Email me here)

Please note, this is post 4 of 6 on using the senses to market more effectively to customers in the retail environment.

I once went into a small grocery store. Upon entering I heard a noise, like a high-pitched electronic squeak. It was loud but no one else seemed to hear it. I could hear it throughout the store. It was unwavering and aggravating. The longer I shopped the more annoyed and frustrated I became. I tried to rush and get what I needed to get out of there as quickly as possible! Upon checking out, the noise was so intense I had to cover my ears. I mentioned it to the cashier in desperation. Didn’t she hear that horrid noise?! She said she could not, but a younger cashier had complained about it and ended her shift early because she couldn’t handle it any longer. It turns out that the bearing for the register belt had gone bad and was causing the noise. Apparently only younger more sensitive ears could hear it.

Sound is in retail businesses are often easy to manipulate. Obviously, you want to avoid anything that may irritate or annoy customers. Loud, repetitive noises or songs will get old fast and drive people away. Music is a normal go-to in this category, but it doesn’t have to be the only sounds you implement. For example, wind chimes on the entry door gives a pleasant hello to everyone who enters and is wonderful idea to add to your business décor.

Think outside the radio when it comes to sound! Noises that are unexpected often offer better benefits because they don’t fade into the background. They can also be tailored to your store environment. Think of using a water accent such as a tabletop water fountain for outdoor product displays or wave machine sounds for beach apparel. You might even think of building such a display to offer customers the ability to test waterproof sample items!

If you do decide to use music in your business be sure to play it softly so that it can be heard but not listened to, meaning, your customer shouldn’t be overly aware of the song that is playing.  You also want to ensure that the music chosen fits your business’s atmosphere. If you have a store designed for Teenagers, they aren’t going to enjoy shopping to orchestral music. If you are trying to reach a diverse group of customers pick a mix of genres but be careful to ensure that all the music is tasteful, no cussing or poor content.  Also, be leery of overly relaxing music. It may be nice for customers coming in off a busy street, but several hours of Enya might cause your employees productivity to suffer.

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