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We wanted to share with you a consultation we carried out on the in-store music of a DIY superstore chain. In-store music, or background music, is about more than the songs that get played. It’s a waste to have great music playing for your customers if they can’t hear it and there’s no point in running in-store audio promotions if they get lost under every other sound inside the store.

For this consultation, we visited stores across the country and spoke to some shoppers in-store to get their thoughts.

 

What we saw

Every store we visited was large. That size wasn’t confined to the length and breadth of the store, but the height too. While the stores are well laid out on the floor, the walls and ceilings are bare concrete and metal.

This can lead to real problems with playing music as the sound echoes off the hard surfaces.

What we heard

We couldn’t fault the music choices. DIY stores have a broad range of customers, from students moving into their first accommodation to retirees who spend a lot of time in their garden. Add in numerous tradespeople buying work essentials, and you have a wide demographic to keep happy.

The music that was playing was broad and familiar. These stores haven’t tried to be too cool, the result is music that works for everyone in-store and doesn’t alienate any customer.

We noticed tracks from the sixties right through to more recent music. Each track was upbeat with a good amount of energy, but there were no frivolous or lightweight songs. One of our team said, “ the music definitely had a more masculine slant but, as a female, I never felt excluded as the songs were upbeat and oh so recognisable”

Although the music felt right, it could have been louder. In the stores we visited, the music would regularly get smothered under the sound of large trolleys going by. Not only did the music get lost, but so did the promotional messages, which isn’t great and means there are many opportunities being missed.

The messaging we did hear was out of date Covid safety information, which came round regularly enough to grate.

Our tech experts were impressed by the quality of the sound we did hear. The speakers hanging from the ceiling looked old and yellowing, but their sonic quality and positioning meant the sound was clear with none of the echoing that could be happening.

If our professional ears thought the music could be louder, the shoppers we spoke to seemed to agree. Here are some sample quotes:

“I didn’t notice they were playing any music in there”

“I did hear a great song when I was in the garden section, but when I moved on it disappeared”

What we would recommend

We’d advise this chain to take some steps to get the most out of what they’re paying for. Turn the music volume up louder, not too much, but enough so that it cuts across the normal store noises.

Use a split-feed system which plays the promotional messages at a louder volume than the music, that way they’ll really stand out from the “background” music and work much harder for you.

We suspect this chain is using an older playout system, which doesn’t make regular updating easy. Switching to a live service would be easy to achieve and cost-effective. They could still use their excellent speakers but make much more use of them to promote their offerings.

In stores the size of these, audio is the perfect way to signpost what customers could be missing at the other end of the store. A live service makes that easy to manage.

Overall:

A great music selection is being let down by low volumes. Some easy changes would see their audio services deliver a better return on investment.

 

Written by Euan McMorrow, Content Director at AVC Immedia.

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