Today’s blog investigates whether having plants in retail stores and shopping centres can impact customers’ perceptions and shopper buying behaviours.
Retailers are always looking for an advantage over their competition, and creating a shopping experience that customers enjoy is crucial to any store’s long-term success. In our previous blog we looked at how using the power of premium scenting in a shopping environment can make shoppers stay longer, spend more, and create a lasting brand memory.
The rise of online shopping
An article in the Business Insider estimates that online retail in South Africa has more than doubled in the last two years. In 2018, online stores sold R14 billion worth of goods, representing just 1.4% of the total retail market.
This grew to more than R30 billion in 2020, partly due to lockdown which kept people away from physical shops and malls. While the growth rate for 2021 is expected to flatten a bit, online retail is still expected to top R40 billion and account for 4% of all retail in South Africa.
This means that brick and mortar stores have to work that much harder, not only competing with one another for customers, but competing with the online space for custom.
The role of plants in retail to create an environment shoppers want to visit
Interior landscaping can have a profound effect on a retail space’s ability to deliver an exceptional customer experience. As we have blogged about before, plants tap into people’s innate need to be close to nature (biophilia).
Retail environments can use this need to connect with nature to put people at ease – by decorating their space with lush greenery. Many studies have shown that the presence of plant life indoors can improve people’s moods and increases human energy levels.
The following two extracts from papers written by an American researcher and a British shopping centre manager highlight the importance of plants in retail environments:
“Retailers have long understood the importance of store environment in enhancing the shopping experience. The outdoor landscape can be a seamless extension of shop interiors, providing indoor/outdoor continuity for a positive shopping experience. Interior plants and landscape may create store interiors more favourable for retail activity.” (Ref: “Retail and Urban Nature: Creating a Consumer Habitat”, K.L.Wolf, at the People/Plant Symposium, Amsterdam, 2002).
“Through the medium of plants the shopping centre successfully translates outside to inside, relaxes almost everybody, all ages and types of people relate to the atmosphere. The result for the public is a perfect environment for the purposes of shopping and leisure. The result for the tenant is the second highest net profit per square foot in Britain.” (Ref: “Am I Running a Greenhouse or a Shopping Centre?”, J Bryson, Centre Manager, Metrocentre, Gateshead, England at the BALI seminar, London, 1992).
Plants in shopping centres
The power of plants in the retail industry is not confined to just the shops themselves. Plants can also be used in a myriad of ways in shopping centres, from directing foot traffic to providing shoppers with a relaxing place to rest during a shopping trip, or even to demarcate social distancing.
Although much of the evidence is still subjective, it is clear that professional retailers firmly believe that plants are an integral part of the selling environment and are prepared to allocate the space and resources to accommodate them.
Retailers and designers can easily make stores more appealing for customers by incorporating indoor plants into their design.
Whatever your business, let Ambius work with you to create an inviting environment for your customers. Contact us today.