For many years, I have been a keen Internet shopper, but nothing beats the sensory delights of walking into a visually appealing store.  Three things have occurred recently that have brought this to mind.

Earlier this month whilst mooching about on the Mornignton Peninsula in the lovely little town called Flinders, I visited a shop called Tree.  This simple store used colour blocking and rustic furniture pieces to display women’s fashion, homewares and gift items to supreme effect.

The quirky window display is a perfect example of how this store used the visual space to delight the customer.  Using only pencils, they cleverly spelled out the word Shine in relief. The effect was simply charming.In the foreground, a pile of old National Geographic magazines and an old Schweppes wooden crate provided platforms for product display.

I’m often asked how small independent retailers can compete with the onslaught of the large global players entering the Australian market. Providing a store environment, which feeds the senses, provides pleasure to the shopper and an element of uniqueness is one such way.

Secondly, those ubiquitous boys from The Future Laboratory also touched on the importance of sensory stimulation. During their recent presentations in Sydney & Melbourne, they spoke about providing the experience in bricks & mortar retail.  Ever with their finger on the pulse, they spoke about the “scent of brand” and the importance of brands creating their own ‘scent’. Sensory splurge was certainly a trend on their radar.

And lastly, I was blown away by a video released by Australian discount retailer Best & Less. They opened a pop-up boutique store called The L&B Experiment in Westfield Sydney.  It was designed to look like a pricey boutique, but sold Best & Less clothing with boutique price tags. Customers were amazed to learn the true price when they took the item to the checkout. One such customer exclaimed, “I don’t mean to be a snob, but I wouldn’t go to Best & Less.”  Whilst Best & Less were making a point that their clothing is just as fashionable and high quality as boutique brands, I took away another lesson.  Shoppers like to shop in an inviting environment.  This is something brands like H&M know all too well. They have opened stores in historical or culturally interesting buildings around the world and are soon to open their first Australian store in the GPO building in Melbourne.

Whatever your price points are and whoever your customers are, make them feel special when they shop.  After all the customer is spending their hard earned money.  Don’t they deserve for you to seduce their senses?