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How little details can make or break the customer experience

Ron Ruggless | Mar 27, 2019

Sometimes we get so blinded by the minutiae of restaurants — the latest quarter of same-store sales or the most recent unit growth statistics — that we lose sight of the big picture: The industry is a multi-sensory one.

“Think about merchandising as a summation of the elements that communicate your expertise as a brand to your guests,” said Noveshen. “It’s about how you tell your story through all of the senses.”

In these days of delivery and takeout, it’s worth remembering what gets guests off their couches.

That, Noveshen said, is the “anticipation of an experience the second they walk into the door.”

He provided a little refresher on the five senses of smell, sound, sight, touch and taste and some examples of how they help operators today:

Smell: Samovar Tea and Chai in San Francisco has copper kettles that sit next to the order area and draw customers into the experience with hibiscus, mint or other scents. And he warned: Rethink things like roasting broccoli; put it at the last thing of day. “Think about what your guests want to and don’t want to smell,” he added.

Sight: “This seems to be the most obvious for merchandising,” Noveshen said, citing the Starbucks Corp. immersive Roastery offshoot. “This is how Starbucks can communicate its expertise. … It’s the Willy Wonka of coffee experiences.” He said any operation can engage guests in active merchandising, even down to small elements like fresh lemons on the bar to be used in drinks.

Touch: Pret a Manger understands is “the guest’s journey and the way they want to control and touch and bring the meal together for themselves,” Noveshen said, adding that the brand is doing an all-vegetarian version in London.

Taste: Samples are powerful, Noveshen said. South San Francisco, Calif.-based See’s Candy Shops Inc., founded in 1921, still gives a free sample to every single person who walks in the door. And modern supper clubs are bringing cannabis sampling into the mix.

Overall, he said, “Don’t let the experience be left to chance. Invest in some drama. Put yourself in the shoes of the guest.”

And in the end, Noveshen said: “Finally, don’t be afraid to have some fun.”

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Source: Making sense (all five of them) of merchandising