Retailers have known for many years that merchandising and setting the right atmosphere are important, but research reveals an enhanced opportunity to inspire customers through digital screens and kiosks.
The majority of shoppers crave digital and more personalised experiences.
Nearly two-thirds of shoppers step into a store without a specific purchase in mind, looking to be inspired by retailers who can craft the ideal ambience through digital screens and interactive kiosks. Mood Media’s 2023 In-store Customer Trends research, encompassing over 8,000 participants globally, unveils profound insights into customer preferences and strategies to prolong their time in stores, enhance the likelihood of purchases, and guarantee repeat visits. Building on the 2022 Charting Instore Trends research findings — which underscored that atmosphere and sustainability are critical factors influencing which stores shoppers choose to visit — retailers should showcase their full product offering and personalisation options through smart digital screens.
Setting the right atmosphere is crucial
Mood’s research identifies key motivations driving shoppers to physical stores: 52% visit to touch and feel real goods, and 33% aim to discover new products. Having a social experience with friends and family (35%), the instant gratification of buying in-store (39%), and soaking up the atmosphere of an in-person trip to the high street or mall (26%) were also important incentives.
When asked about pleasant in-store experiences, 85% of shoppers highlighted the significance of scent, while 70% expressed a similar sentiment about branded playlists. Creating an appealing atmosphere is crucial, as it makes one in two shoppers feel happy, encouraging them to prolong their stay (35%), and revisit (45%). Furthermore, 25% reveal that the right atmosphere prompts in-store purchases.
Moreover, consumers seek enhanced interaction with retailers through digital signage and interactive kiosks, facilitating exploration of the brand’s complete product offering and personalisation options. The capability to engage with a retailer to explore various colours, sizes, and styles is a top priority for over one in three (33%) shoppers.
Digital screen technology drives discovery and sales
This desire for guided exploration of the product portfolio in retail is propelling digital screens and interactive technology to a more central role in modern retailing.
Nearly one in two shoppers (47%) like in-store messages introducing them to new products and offers. Audio gets noticed the most by 69% of shoppers. Visual messages displayed on checkout screens (63%), video advertisements (62%), and inspirational content on digital screens (61%) maintain high attention levels as shoppers progress toward the cash register.
Digital screens are changing customer behaviour. Nearly 40% reveal in-store messaging, such as videos on screens, often prompt them to make a purchase, and 43% are reminded about a purchase they were considering. This behaviour increases when content is visually appealing and inspirational. For those who notice inspirational video content on screens, 77% express feeling encouraged to explore and potentially make a purchase, whether in-store (76%) or online. The most effective method of capturing shopper attention is through promotional and sales information.
Screens are vital for bridging the in-store and online experience. Beyond the shop floor, 75% are interested in QR codes to discover more about a product or product line. Nearly three in four (73%) shoppers also expressed interest in using their smartphones for guidance within a store.
Building stronger customer engagement
The Mood Media In-Store Customer Trends Report underlines how retailers need to excel at merchandising and in setting the right atmosphere, but they should also invest in digital technology that deepens the connection between their brand and consumers moving from passive to interactive engagement.
According to Jaime Bettencourt, SVP of Brand Strategy at Mood Media:
“Our research spotlights a pivotal retail shift — today’s consumers don’t just want products, they crave captivating experiences. The onus is on brands to create immersive, personalised store environments integrating physical and digital touchpoints. Savvy retailers will harness visual, auditory, and even olfactory creativity to redefine their spaces for the experiential era. This analysis serves as their guide, revealing what modern shoppers respond to and how stores can rise to the occasion.”
The In-Store Customer Trends Report: Turning Insights Into Inspiration is available to download here.