REAL ESTATE

Survey details importance of a store’s external appearance

BY Marianne Wilson

New York City — Even in today’s digital world, a store’s physical appearance matters — and it does so significantly, according to market research firm Morpace’s latest Omnibus survey. The study shows that consumers form an opinion of a business based on physical presence, which heavily influences their decision whether or not to shop at a location.

With 95% of consumers reporting that exterior appearance is important in selecting a store to shop, the survey results suggest that retailers across the board, from restaurants to big-box outlets, should focus on the external presentation of their location to ensure there are satisfied customers inside.

More than two-thirds of consumers say they have avoided a place of business based on its external appearance. The appearance factor that most (52%) influenced the decision to not enter a store was “looked dirty from the outside,” followed by “looked outdated or old.”

In other findings:

  • One-third of consumers have not entered a business because it "didn’t look like a place I would normally shop." Although these consumers may not have been able to put a finger on specifically why they didn’t want to shop the store, there was something about its appearance that gave them pause.
  • Most consumers (nearly 80%) are open to shopping at new places, and most have visited a business outside of their normal routine in the past six months.
  • More than 80% of consumers admit they have shopped only once at a location and never returned. Poor customer service ranked as the No. 1 reason (68%) consumers didn’t go back, followed by the inability to find what they were looking for (53%), and the perception that the store was dirty (32%).

According to the study, at the very least, retailers should consider developing a research plan to evaluate the external presentation of their operations as part of their overall marketing efforts. And they should ask themselves three questions:

  • What message is our business sending to potential customers?;
  • Are we turning potential customers away without knowing it?; and
  • Is the environment of our location consistent with our target customers’ expectations?
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