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10 Areas of Focus for Your Museum Store Audit

A little refurnishing and repurposing every year can go a long way in a tired space. And even an energetic space full of vitality can benefit from a redo every so often. You can conduct your own audit or bring in a professional. If you can’t see the forest for the trees, we recommend the latter! Do whatever works to help you keep things interesting for your customers. You and your staff will feel the renewed energy of the space, as will your cash register.

Telling stories by interweaving textures, utilizing hot new finishes for walls and floors, and creating the unexpected ensures that your store becomes a destination in and of itself, not just a side trip while in the museum.

Here are ten areas to address during your museum store audit:

1. First Impressions

What’s the first thing your customers see when they walk into your space? Is there an identifiable theme? A strong brand? Is it enticing? Inspiring? Is it well lit? Are there visible signs and an open traffic aisle? Music? Aroma? All of these items work together to instantly give a first impression. Without a good impression, you won’t get customers shopping and buying.

2. Color

Does the color palette you’ve selected set the tone for the mood you wish to create? Does it reflect your brand? Does it support the merchandise you have on display? Do you have an accent wall you can change color from time to time—just for fun, or to feature a new line of merchandise?

3. Lighting

Varying your light levels adds dimension to your space and positively affects your customers’ and employees’ psyches and biorhythms. If your space is currently lit only by fluorescent lights, punch it up with track lighting or table and floor lamps. Add a chandelier or some fun pendant lights over your checkout counter. Lighting is the most important design element in your space. If you aren’t illuminating your space properly, your sales are definitely suffering.

4. Aromas

How does your store smell? Are there musty odors that need to be eliminated? Adding a fresh, natural aroma can really add to the customer experience. But, understand that “natural” when it’s a synthetic chemical-based aroma can be irritating to those who have allergies or asthma. Natural scents such as fresh brewed coffee (the key here is “fresh”!), a couple of drops of essential oil (i.e., lavender) in a ceramic warming bowl, or a crock pot with orange peels and cinnamon sticks are great natural ways to set a mood via the olfactory sense.

5. Acoustics

What welcomes your customers into your space? The sounds of your environment also help to set a mood. Do you have music playing that puts a spring in the step of your shoppers? Are you playing music that reflects or enhances art on display? The tempo and genre of music will definitely have an effect on consumer behavior. Be sure to select the type that is right for your target market.

6. Layout/Way-Finding

Did you know that strategically locating focal points throughout your store will lead customers effortlessly throughout the space? The feet follow the eyes, so place an attention-getting focal point every 15-20 feet and watch how your customers change their shopping behaviors. You’ll be surprised how well this works!

7. Interior Signage

Good signage seems straightforward, yet in the grand scheme of running a business, it can easily be overlooked or done poorly. Signage should follow predetermined guidelines so all your sale signs look similar, all your product benefit signs look similar, all your department signs look similar, etc. Properly implemented design guidelines train your customers to look for certain messages. Strategically placed signs make it easy for your customers to navigate your space. Scribbled signs taped to your window or a display? Never a good thing!

8. Fixtures & Furnishings

Do your fixtures coordinate with one another? Too many styles will only serve as a distraction. Are your fixtures well stocked? Empty shelves don’t reflect well on your business as a whole, not to mention the product line. Do the fixtures support your image and brand? Are you able to squeeze a chair or bench in your space for waiting spouses or parents? If not in the shop, perhaps right outside?

9. Interactive& Informative Displays

Do you have displays that entice, inspire and inform, placed throughout the store? Do you have QR codes or apps that get customers interacting via their smart phones? Changing your displays often, and making them fun and informative, is a sure way to keep your customers engaged throughout their shopping experience.

10. Lasting Impressions

Does the checkout counter provide a good professional experience? Are the shopping bags fun and reusable? What’s the last thing a customer sees before he/she exits the space? Is it memorable? Positive? Do you thank them as they exit?

A little effort and a few significant changes can totally change the feel of your shop. Increased interest and sales will follow.

Contributed by Lyn Falk, owner, educational speaker and designer at Retailworks Inc, an award-winning, nationally-recognized design firm located in Mequon, Wis.

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