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How to create a sensory shopping experience

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How to create a sensory shopping experience

Shopping should be an experience that excites all five senses - sight, sound, touch, smell and taste. However, it can be really easy to focus on visually stimulating displays and forget about the other four senses, but by combining elements to satisfy all senses you can create a unique, engaging and unforgettable shopping experience. Think about how your business space sounds, smells and feels. Creating a multi-sensory experience is known in the industry as "sensory branding”. So, let’s explore all five senses in more depth.


There are an endless array of visual cues you can experiment with to communicate your message. Research shows that customers prefer open store layouts that allow for easy movement and visibility. Additionally, having well-lit, attractive displays will engage customers to want to shop more. Remember that signage is a tool to aid you in appealing to this sense, so be sure to use it wisely. For example, it has been found that people react faster and more forcefully when they see the colour red. This explains why most businesses use red sale signs, with the primary reason behind the phenomena being that the colour red enhances physical reactions as it is programmed into our psyche as a cue for danger.

How to create a sensory shopping experience


The music you play has such a profound yet subtle effect on how your customers will behave. Whoever your target market may be, make sure the sounds that your business exudes are respectful and generally pleasing to all ears. Encourage your team to avoid gossiping in ear-shot of your customers and keep everything upbeat and positive. You can slow people down when shopping by playing more mellow music, which will cause them to browse for longer. Music volume is also an important factor to get right within your business, but be careful not to restrict your target market with your music choices.

How to create a sensory shopping experience


Customers instinctively want to touch things so ensure you give your customers the ability to touch, feel, and try out whatever it is you're looking to sell. Creating an environment that encourages touch will allow your customers to engage more with your product and brand, which ultimately means they are more likely to buy from you. Keeping products at eye level that welcome touch is also a good idea. For those things that demand restriction from touching, identify how customers should learn more about them – such as with an “ask an member of staff for assistance” sign.

How to create a sensory shopping experience


Smell is a very important tool and there's an entire science to what's referred to as "scent marketing". In a store selling consumables it’s important that the food smells delicious, as this will encourage customers to buy. This comes more easily to some businesses than others, for example, bakeries. However, in a general store, it’s important the scent is pleasant and fresh. Smell is considered to be a fast track to the system in your brain that controls both emotion and memory, which are two very prominent factors behind why we choose one brand over another.

How to create a sensory shopping experience


Using taste to sell your product can work magic if you happen to be in the business of selling consumables. Giving people the ability to taste and sample before they buy is the equivalent of letting people try on clothes, a general and effective best practice. Additionally, free samples help consumers learn more about your products, and also works on a more subconscious level too. Reciprocity is a very strong instinct, so if somebody does something for you, you feel a strong obligation to do something back for them. This means that by offering a small sample of your product, it is likely your customer will buy something from you. If you are a store without food to offer, consider having beverages or refreshments for your customers.

How to create a sensory shopping experience


Erin Heenan

Erin joined Epos Now in 2016 as an in-house content writer for the marketing department, making use of 10 years experience working in busy restaurants. An avid fan of shopping and eating out, she is committed to helping retail and hospitality SMEs get the most out of their businesses.

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