Digital shopping is only part of the average buyer's journey. The physical retail environment is still going strong, which is why so many brands maintain retail buildings and some online-only retailers are now opening brick-and-mortar stores.

In a physical store, atmospheric details aren't just nice, they drive business.

The sights, sounds, and smells of a physical location are cogs in the customer experience machine. With a facilities maintenance plan, the tangible elements in a retail store blend to create an experience that customers want to repeat.

Customers Still Love a Brick-and-Mortar Shopping Experience

The online boom changed the way people shop, but it didn't erase brick-and-mortar stores from the landscape. They're still thriving. Digital shopping has matured into an option, not a replacement. And options let customers choose the best experience for different points in the buyer's journey.

Forbes says many shoppers spend at least some time researching products online, and the majority of retail sales in the U.S. still take place inside a store. According to Retail Touch Points, 85 percent of consumers prefer the tactile experience of touching, handling and even smelling merchandise.

The senses elicit an emotional reaction, which affects the customer experience and influences buying decisions. The buyer's journey doesn't skip from online to the interior of the store, and it doesn't begin when the customer walks through the door: Curb appeal is part of that journey. It affects the senses, as well. The appearance, condition, and convenience of the store's exterior can invite people to come inside and shop, or silently recommend shopping elsewhere.

Love Your Curb Appeal and Shoppers Will Love Your Business

A proactive facilities maintenance plan is part of a brand-building infrastructure that enhances customer experience. Consider a store with neglected shrubs, dying flowers, grubby windows, and a parking lot riddled with potholes. Now compare that to a retail store with pristine, beautiful curb appeal.

In a study by Emerald Insight, researchers found that curb appeal influenced customer mood and willingness to buy. It's linked to brand reputation, emotions and stimulating the senses in a positive way.

If brand power and customer loyalty aren't enough, curb appeal also affects property values. It's similar to the effect curb appeal has on property values in a residential setting, but with a slightly different slant.

Positive atmospheric and architectural elements in a retail environment encourage patronage. It's not just beauty that boosts retail property values, but the performance of the property as a retail location.

Learn more about perfecting your curb appeal ahead of spring in our blog post: Why You Should Put Landscaping Services on Your Spring-Cleaning Checklist.

No Detail is Too Small to Matter

Clean walkways, well-tended landscaping, and an inviting, comfortable interior are inextricably linked to the perception of customer appreciation. That's why facilities maintenance is an integral component of the retail brand.

Every detail influences customer perception in a positive or negative way. Research by The Consumer Factor, suggests that the even HVAC system can influence a shoppers-- warm customers warm up to buying.

Clean and well-maintained restrooms are part of the total retail brand package, as well. Conversely, The Worldwide Cleaning Industry says dirty restrooms and a general lack of cleanliness turns off 95 percent of buyers.

From the accessibility and condition of the parking lot to interior lighting and a smart floor plan, brick-and-mortar retail stores have boundless opportunities to positively affect the customer experience. With a strong facilities maintenance program, the retail brand can offer excellence every day.

Brick-and-mortar retail stores have a solid spot in the buyer's journey. Customers gain emotional satisfaction from touching and handling merchandise, which influences the buying decision.

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