Its All About Perception

What we perceive forms our opinion of what we sense or understand as customers. Every retail business is affected by what people experience as they shop


As we go through life we perceive the world around us – either as a perceived point of view or as a perception of the senses – sight, hearing and smell. All of these give us the basis of an opinion of what we sense or understand.

How does that affect business? In a big way - as every day our customers are forming a perception of our business. How do we want them to perceive us - are we high end, low end, a jewel in the district or just don’t know or care?

There are a number of ways you can perceive a retail store:

  • Appearance
  • Organisation
  • Smell
  • Feel
  • Visual Cues
  • Staff Team

As you read through, decide what you feel each image conveys and your perception.


The appearance of the business, in particular at roadside can give your customer a perception of your business without even going in.

An interesting and inspiring frontage has a positive impact and can drive customers into your business, and consumers may feel that you are an active positive business.

A scruffy, unkempt or tired frontage lowers expectations and perceived quality which may deter customer visits.





A well organised business in terms of internal presentation tells the consumer you are professional in your business, you take care of your business and by inference your customers.

Your customer flow and merchandising make it easy for customers to buy – increasing sales and giving them confidence in your business.




What has smell got to do with perception? The right smell in the right place is great, but the wrong smell in the wrong place can easily drive customers away and keep them away.

Thinking of coffee aromas near the cafe is great, but a stale chip fat or fish smell near the gifts is a certain turn off.

Smells can create a great ambience for your store but beware of the intrusives, no-one likes them.



Feel is a difficult one that you either get or you don’t.

Inspirational displays indicate you are involved and wanting to help your customer.

Well turned out and happy staff give the store a good feeling. 

Amusing signage makes customers smile, and appropriate background music and colour themes help create this intangible feel for your business.


Visual cues

Great signage engages the customers and helps them make buying decisions. Showing new colour combinations give a positive perception of your business.

Creating displays of on trend fashion themes and ideas inspires your customers. Most people buy with their eyes so visual cues are vital.


Staff Team

A great staff team can create the welcome to make customers feel comfortable in your business.

Personality and training can create great sales staff that will increase your sales and customer satisfaction.

Great staff identify customer niggles and remove them. Poor staff will drive away customers even if your offer is a good one.



So customer perception of your business and their formed opinion has a great impact on sales and success and covers many areas.

Attention to Convenience, Value and Inspiration and attention to detail in all areas of the business will bring rewards. Look at your business through the eyes of your customer – what do you see?

Appearance – first impressions count.

Organisation- appearing well organised and laid out gives a positive perception.

Smell – odours can be alluring, scene setting or a real turn off – check yours!

Feel – Sound, music, colour, tidy well presented staff, inspiring displays give a good feel.

Visual cues – showing the customer you care, and want to inform with creative ideas.

Staff Team – clean, tidy, friendly, knowledgeable, keen to help can make a major difference.


Keep focused on perception and your customers will enjoy their experience and keep coming back.

- Steve Myatt