Keep Customers on the Path to Purchase: The Arrangement of Your Store Plays a Big Role in Bringing Customers through the Door and Keeping Them Shopping in Your Gallery

Article excerpt

Which direction do customers take when they walk in your gallery? What wall is the proper place to hang certain paintings? What type of artwork is best for a room with no windows? And who cares anyhow?

The customer cares, at least subconsciously, according to many studies on how customers shop. Gallery owners should care too if they want customers to walk through the door, linger and buy artwork.

Prime Real Estate

A study on how people shop by Sorensen Associates, a pioneer of in-store research, warned against building the entrance on the left side of a store if you want to encourage longer shopping trips. Customers are more comfortable walking counter-clockwise and will automatically go in this direction, according to the research.

If your gallery's entrance is on the left side of the building, shoppers are forced to move clockwise, which is the opposite of their natural inclination. This means they will probably spend less time in your store and be less likely to buy.

"American shoppers automatically move to the right, which means the front right side of any store is its prime real estate and where the most important goods should go," said Paco Underhill, a consultant to major corporations and author of the book Why We Buy.

In this prime real estate area, a gallery could display its artist of the month or show inexpensive pick-up items that engage customers in the work, such as books by your artists. A frame shop could use the area to showcase unusual and dramatic framing ideas.

In my clothing store, we always had a rack with deeply discounted merchandise customers saw as soon as they walked in the store. The sign on the rack had a dramatic price reduction that stopped them. This strategy works because once customers decide to buy something--anything--they are ready to buy something else. They have gone from saying, "I'm just looking" to thinking "What else do they have that I can buy?"

Other studies about shoppers found that the average person walks through only 25 percent of a store. For example, a supermarket owner in Wisconsin asked his customers to fill out surveys about what departments they liked and didn't like in his store. One of the categories he asked about was the photo department. The retailer was amazed when he received many comments asking, "What photo department?" The customers didn't know it existed because they never wandered over to that part of the store. As a result, the owner quickly repositioned the department near the normal walking pattern, and sales increased dramatically.

Feng Shui

Another way physical elements affect consumer shopping patterns is best explained through the Chinese philosophy called feng shui. This is a thousand-year-old "art of placement" method that can be used to find the right direction to physically position your gallery and the art within it. Working feng shui into the design of your gallery and the placement of merchandise allows you to work "in an environment of health, love, happiness and wealth," according to principles of feng shui philosophy.

Since wealth ties in with doing more business, let's examine how feng shui experts recommend retailers place products:

* Make sure the customer can easily see the entrance. It should follow the street flow and be clearly marked. Exterior signage should have strong colors.

* High ceilings make it difficult for viewers to concentrate on a specific piece of art. …