Foot traffic is one of the most important measures when it comes to running a brick-and-mortar store. More traffic means more opportunities for sales and customer engagement, which in turn leads to higher revenues.
This is why you should continuously strive to increase foot traffic in your physical location. Even if you think you’re getting enough store visitors as is, you can always do better. There are still a lot of potential customers out there that you can tap into, and you there are plenty of things you can do to increase store visits from existing customers.
Need some ideas? Here are some tried-and-tested tips on how you can drive foot traffic to your retail location.
Increase curb appeal
Your store’s curb appeal is a make or break factor when it comes to foot traffic. This is especially true during the upcoming holiday season, when retailers will be pulling out all the stops to make their storefronts more attractive. We highly suggest you do the same. Below are some immediate steps you can take to improve the look and feel of your storefront:
Keep things tidy and don’t skimp on maintenance
A spruced up storefront can do wonders for your curb appeal. No one wants to walk into a store with dusty windows or peeling paint, so stay on top of these maintenance tasks.
Certain jobs, such as sweeping your storefront and cleaning your windows should be done daily, while other tasks only need to done every few months or years. A good paint job, for instance, can last years. That said, you may still need to perform re-touches every now and then.
Step out of your store and look at it from the outside. Evaluate the physical state of the windows, doors, and walls, and identify the things that need sprucing up. You should assign people to perform various maintenance tasks. Perhaps your employees can take turns doing different jobs, or you could hire a third-party to maintain your storefront for you.
Add curbside “extras”
Go beyond typical window displays by adding extra elements outside your store. For instance, you could put out a sandwich board that welcomes people with a witty message.
Some retailers are adding curbside elements that shoppers can actually use. Take for example, Snyder Cycles, a bike shop in Atlanta. Snyder Cycles set up bike racks outside their store, where customers can park their bikes while shopping.
Can you think of any curbside extras that your shoppers might find useful? Set them up outside and see what happens.
Make sure associates look busy
Your store associates may not technically be part of your curbside, but if you have a large window that shoppers can look into, then how associates behave in-store may affect people’s decision to walk in. For example, bored-looking sales staff can be a turn-off to potential customers who are considering shopping at your store.
Prevent that by ensuring your store employees are always mindful of how they look and act even if there aren’t any customers inside the shop. See to it that they look busy or welcoming at all times, so passers-by will be more enticed to come in.
Leverage digital tools to drive physical traffic
When used correctly, digital tools can be huge drivers of offline traffic. If you haven’t done so yet, start cooking up online initiatives to help increase traffic to your physical locations. Here a few ideas:
Email & Social
Do you have any in-store promotions going on? Got an event coming up? Keep your customers posted via email and social media. Mention any perks of showing up in-store, such as exclusive offers that can only redeemed on-site.
For best results, target your posts based on your customers’ demographic information, location, and purchase history. For instance, if you’re having an event at your San Francisco store, then only send out an email or post to people in that area; otherwise you risk alienating your other customers.
Click and collect
Let your ecommerce site drive in-store traffic by offering click-and-collect services in your stores. Such initiatives will not only get people to your physical location, but they can potentially increase sales in the process.
Research has shown that “about a third of shoppers would prefer to have an item delivered to a location other than their home, up from 26% last year, and many of those are choosing to pick up their orders in stores.”
What’s more, about 50% of respondents have opted for in-store pick up, and 45% of them have bought something else during their trip to the store.
Hosting events is one of the best ways to get people to head to your store, because they offer experiences attendees won’t find online or in other shops.
To make your events more fun and enticing, consider “cross-pollinating” with other brands or individuals. According to Christina Okubo, founder of boutique brand consultancy company O/Department, doing so creates a win-win situation for you and your partners.
“Partner with like-minded brands, experts, artists and organizations to host events in your store. It could be a designer showcase, a talk by a local artisan, or a fundraiser. This allows you the opportunity to draw in more traffic by a) offering your customers something unique, b) leveraging the audience of like-minded people to grow your own fan-base and c) growing your relationships with individuals and organizations in your community.”
Increase traffic from your existing customers
Tapping into new shoppers is great, but don’t forget about your existing customers. Provided that you’ve cultivated great relationships with your shoppers, you’ll find that it’s actually much easier to invite current customers to come back than it is to draw in people who are completely new to your brand.
That’s why it pays to maintain strong customer relationships. If you haven’t done so yet, invest in a customer relationship management (CRM) system so you can communicate with shoppers more effectively.
“Rather than just putting up a SALE sign in the window, CRM functionalities can allow retailers to track and connect with their most loyal shoppers, easily letting them know about events like Small Business Saturday or any holiday sales they’re having,” says Justin Guinn, a market researcher at Software Advice, an iPad POS comparison site.
Indeed, a strong CRM system lets you easily see who your best customers are and how they’ve interacted with your brand in the past. Such information enables you to figure out how to reach out to shoppers in the most relevant way, so you can increase the chances of conversion.
For example, if you’re having a promotion for a particular brand, you can check your customer database to see who has shopped that brand in the past, so you can notify them.
Offer superior services and experiences
Getting people through the door is just the first step. What gets shoppers coming back (and what increases your foot traffic for the long term) is providing exceptional services and experience once customers are inside.
Invest in things that’ll make shopping more convenient and delightful. Depending on your store, these can be anything from a faster POS and inventory management system to better fixtures and fitting rooms.
But do remember that when it comes to improving the shopping experience, the best investment is the one you make in your employees. You can have the prettiest shop, score the hottest in-store tech, and run the most enticing offers, but if your staff members provide substandard services, then the shopping experience will always fall short.
As John William Barger, business development consultant to Saks Fifth Avenue said, “People can go online anywhere any time to make their purchases, but if they feel they will get superior service from someone they know they can trust and understands their needs, then they are more motivated to make the extra effort to come in-store.”
“While sales promotions, point events, and other in-store shopping events are the low-hanging fruit to bringing buyers in, at the end of the day, the sales staff needs to be trained to be always available, always listening, and anticipating each customer’s needs.”
Keep these insights in mind when you’re training your staff. Educate them well and utilize various training methods to ensure that everyone performs at the highest standards. Instill in them that the importance of getting to know customers and going above and beyond for shoppers.
Do all of the above, and you’ll be well on your way to creating an experience that wows customers and drives long term foot traffic success.
How are you planning to drive foot traffic this holiday season? As a consumer, what are the things that would make you want to walk into a retail store? Let us know in the comments.
About Francesca Nicasio
Francesca Nicasio is Vend's Retail Expert and Content Strategist. She writes about trends, tips, and other cool things that enable retailers to increase sales, serve customers better, and be more awesome overall. She's also the author of Retail Survival of the Fittest, a free eBook to help retailers future-proof their stores. Connect with her on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Google+.