Touch My Senses, Get Your Sale: Retail Strategies for Success

Recently I was scouting for furniture and checked out two big box retailers. Both have great looking furniture, both are well crafted. One was clearly higher priced than the other, though not necessarily a better value, they did give a better experience. Here’s why . . . they touched all of my senses.

You read that right. This company found a way to effectively tap all five of my senses and completely immerse me, their customer (or potential customer), in an inviting sensory experience. While I was in their showroom, there was no room in my mind to consider anyone else, they were that thorough. And I’d go back in a heartbeat just to experience them again. Allow me to detail and you can start of dreaming of ways you can create this in your business.

Retail Sales Strategy, Selling with the Senses, Melissa Galt, Retail Sales Speaker, Marketing Speaker, Social Media Speaker, Relationship Marketing Speaker

SIGHT . . . generally easy to do but not always done well. Their showroom was welcoming visually, it flowed well without big contrasts from space to space. You definitely felt like you could sit in any piece there and try it out like you would at home instead of being all proper like you would in a store!

They had located their sales desk in the center of the store, not the back. This way I could look over at any time and eyeball or call to someone if I needed assistance. No one had to chase me around or lurk behind me.

Oh and a great way to leverage sight is also to show your customer the inside workings of something, how something is made. The mattress retailers perhaps do this best with the cutaways they have to show you the spring construction and more.

SOUND . . . so often missed and so simple to do today. Really I’m not fond of hearing some non-stop talk radio or continual sports broadcast but music when tasteful and background and suits the style of the store, works beautifully.

(So that means if you sell hip-hop goods, you’d play hip-hop. I wouldn’t visit you but that isn’t my style or my clients.) At a minimum consider a Sirius XM or you can do a full on sound system. Sound matters and is best when it matches the mood you are going for. This retailer had muted contemporary jazz playing.

SCENT . . . subtle is best and fresh is always. You may need to step outside for a bit and come back in to replicate what smell your customers get when they enter. Sometimes it is stale or musty, not very inviting. Other times it may be something indistiguishable. Make it a conscious choice. And I’m not advocating you potpourri your place or smother it in Glade fresheners.

Think in terms of subtle, fresh, and fits the mood you’ve created. Experiment with a variety of scents. I know you’ve heard that to sell a house fast, keeping a pot of vanilla and brown sugar on the stove replicates fresh baked cookies. That may not be what you are after, but you do get the idea. This retailers showroom smelled mysterious yet friendly. I know, I know how on earth do you find that, well go out and get shopping and see what you like, close your eyes and “see” what it makes you think.

Retail Sales Techniques, Sales Speaker, Melissa Galt, Marketing Speaker, Social Media Speaker, Home Furnishings Speaker
How Will You Engage Your Customers 5 Senses to Sell More

TASTE . . . this may spark some debate but be creative, I know you can add it. Smaller retailers have a leg up here as the volume of traffic is more manageable and affordable. I’m talking some kind of edible. Use your imagination, could be hard wrapped candies, could be Hershey’s kisses, could be Werther’s Originals, could be chocolate chip cookies. And include a mini-bottle of water or tiny soda can.

Will it make a mess? The maintenance depends on your clientele and if you realize that something small like this is long remembered. Ironically, this big box retailer didn’t do this, but I was so busy salivating over the rest of what I experienced, I didn’t notice!

TOUCH . . . even if it means putting signs up to invite touching, do it. As kids we are taught “don’t touch.” So as adults it can be hard to remember that it is such an important part of most buying decisions. Think about cars and how you run your hand over all parts interior and exterior. Furnishings are decidedly touchable. Floorcoverings, building products even are all something we tend to want to touch test.

If you can’t touch it, it is highly unlikely you will buy it. (I know the internet disproves this, but I’m not alone when I order multiples of something because I need the visceral experience of touching it before choosing. That’s why they do free shipping!) Look at what some of the bedding retailers have done by putting a pillow case out so you can “touch” the sheet sets that are sealed in packaging with security tags. This is the least of what is possible.

I’d love to hear about your sensory shopping experiences, share them in comments here.

Be sure to follow me on facebook and twitter!


  1. says

    Melissa I could not agree more..I have heard it called
    “sensual Merchandising” where the store or retailer should
    evoke the senses to make you want to stay, shop, buy, I have been hired to do it before for shops in my area…it really works,
    it takes some doing but can be done and done effectively.
    Great article.

  2. says

    This is very good advice. I have a building at my house that I am considering turning into a nice furniture consignment store. (I plan to be a little picky about what goes into the store) There really isn’t anything like that around here. I will definitely keep these things in mind while I set it up.

    • Melissa Galt says


      That sounds very cool, glad these ideas are so timely.

      Love to see some pics when you get it done.

      Hugs, Melissa

  3. says

    Like this very much as you have presented very well and how cleverly you have combined SENSES with SUCCESS. explained how all our senses works for us and helps us in getting success.

    Thanks a lot for let us remembering the power of Senses.

    • Melissa Galt says

      Thanks Hily,

      Glad you appreciated this and look forward to hearing how you leverage it in your business!

      Hugs, Melissa

  4. says

    You have pointed out the very keys to creating an experience for the consumer, Melissa!
    When I had my shop, I had very specific ideas for the experience I wanted my customers to have and it began before they ever got in the door. The shop was housed in a beautiful old totally renovated farmhouse and I always had beautiful seasonal decor outside. When they entered into the shop the experience continued. Each of the 5 rooms had a different beautiful wall color/finish (lots of soft yellow), a subtle scent, soft music and pretty window treatments. There were many cozy spots set up so that they could envision the items in their own homes. I had chocolates at the service desk and every purchase was put into a pretty shopping bag with tissue paper and ribbon. Each customer was greeted with “Welcome to Cottage Pleasures, have you visited with us before?” If the answer was “yes” we welcomed them back and let them know we would be happy to help them should they need assistance. If they said “no” we thanked them for taking the time to stop in and let them know the layout of the store and again let them know we’ be happy to help with anything they might need assistance with. We then checked in with them again a few minutes later to see if they had any questions. When they were leaving we thanked them for stopping in and wished them a wonderful day.
    There were many customers who, when having a bad day, would stop in and say “I just needed a Cottage Pleasures moment today”….which I took as a very high compliment!
    Creating an experience for the customer is one of the most important pieces of the puzzle…thank you for reminding us!
    xo Kathleen

    • Melissa Galt says


      I’d expect no less from a designing expert like you! Sounds lovely and that is a very high compliment they paid when they stopped in for a Cottage Pleasures moment. So glad you appreciated what I had to share here and great to get your personal take on it.

      Hugs, Melissa

  5. says

    Hi Melissa,
    You always come up with such good ideas and things to ponder over!!! Thank you….
    Even though I knew what you wrote about it was an absolute great reminder…Thanks for sharing..Michelle

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *