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.
And here’s some good news: there are plenty of things you can do to increase store traffic. In this post, we’ll share some tried-and-tested tips on how you can get more people walking through your doors.
Increase curb appeal
Your store’s curb appeal is a make or break factor when it comes to foot traffic. Smart retailers recognize this, and they invest a ton of effort into making 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. Nobody wants to walk into a store with dirty 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 now and then.
Step out of your store and look at it from the outside. Evaluate the physical state of your 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 additional 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 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 staff 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 turnoff 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.
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 in the long term) is providing exceptional services and experience once customers are inside.
Here are a few ideas:
Offer complementary services
Do you sell products that require maintenance? Consider offering those services for free in your store to encourage people to stop by. That’s what Tanzanite Jewelry Designs does, and it works out really well for the business. According to owner Jeff Moriarty, they provide in-store services such as jewelry cleaning and battery replacement, and doing so helps them increase traffic and sales.
“Once a month we offer free jewelry cleaning. Customers can bring in any jewelry they have (of course we have a limit), and we will clean it for them while they wait. During this time, they get to browse our store and hopefully make a purchase or at least have us in their heads for future purchases.”
“We also offer free battery changes for watches,” he adds. “While there is a small cost for this, it still brings us a potential customer for a cost of less than $3.00. And again, while they wait, they browse our store.”
Employ stylist and experts on-site
Cara Wood, a marketing associate at Capterra, recommends that retailers employ stylists and experts who can educate shoppers on-site. “Sephora is the master of this. Sephora offers free mini-makeovers with their highly trained make-up artists to teach you how to use their products,” she says.”
She continues, “not only is this super fun and unobtainable online, but it actually ensures that people are buying products that work for them and that they know how to use — practically guaranteeing repeat purchases.”
Hold relevant classes
According to Cara, retailers should also consider offering classes or workshops that are related to their product. “Williams-Sonoma (and Sephora, actually) excels at this.”
“They offer cooking classes in-store. This is a fun thing to go do on a Saturday, and it has the added bonus of (again) teaching people how use your products and letting them sample your merchandise. Once you learn that a Williams-Sonoma frying pan is far more non-stick than your old Teflon at home, why wouldn’t you purchase it?”
Invest in employee training
You can have the prettiest shop, implement the hottest gimmicks, and run the most enticing offers, but if your staff members provide poor services, then the shopping experience will fall short.
As John William Barger, business development consultant to Saks Fifth Avenue said, “People can go online anywhere anytime 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 to the highest standards. Instill 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 experiences that wow customers and drive long-term foot traffic success.
Work with influencers and brand ambassadors
Identify social influencers and brand ambassadors in your space and see if they can help you increase store traffic. Tamer AlMasri, the co-founder and CEO of apparel store Jobedu, says that they work with local community brand ambassadors to drive traffic to their locations.
According to Tamer, they’ve set up referral systems that reward brand ambassadors for talking up their company.
Another great example of using influencer marketing to drive foot traffic comes from Google. Google recently hosted “block party” events to showcase its Google Play Music and Google Home technologies.
To encourage people to show up, Google worked with influencers like Wong Fu Productions, MyCupcakeAddiction, and Us the Duo, who then helped spread the word to their fans.
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:
CLICK AND COLLECT
Offer 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 pickup, and 45% of them have bought something else during their trip to the store.
Do you have any in-store promotions going on? Got an event coming up? Keep your customers posted via email. Mention the perks of showing up in-store, such as exclusive offers that can only be 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 to people in that area; otherwise, you risk alienating your other customers.
Here’s another tip: encourage email subscribers to swing by your shop by showing them where your nearest locations are.
Take a look at what New York and Company is doing. The apparel retailer displays a map of the closest NY&C stores at the bottom of its emails to remind subscribers where they can find local stores.
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 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. If you’ve cultivated great relationships with your shoppers, you’ll find that it’s 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.
A robust 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.
Use search and social to your advantage
Like it or not, people are spending more time online. Now, you can complain about how the Internet is driving people away from physical stores, or you can leverage digital tools and use the web to your advantage.
Needless to say, we recommend that you do the latter. Here are few online tactics to start with:
Get listed online
Retailers should “actively manage local profiles with a platform like Yext and Yelp, to ensure that all location information is accurate, enhanced and contains relevant calls to action,” shares Dan Golden of BFO (Be Found Online).
Leverage Google’s Local Inventory Ads
Dan adds that Google’s local inventory ad service, which enables retailers to list their local inventory information online, can help merchants drive traffic.
Here’s how it works: When a nearby customer conducts a Google search for a product that you happen to have in a local store, Google will include that item in its search results.
When users click on your listing, “they arrive on a Google-hosted page for your store, called the local storefront. Shoppers use the local storefront to view in-store inventory, get store hours, find directions, and more.”
Explore social media opportunities
Kelly Ehlers, founder and president of Ideas That Evoke, encourages retailers to use social media to their advantage. One way to do this is to use Facebook ads.
“Utilize Facebook Offer Ads to incentive patrons to come into your brick and mortar business. You can track how many people have claimed the offer and then also track in store how many people came in with the offer code from social media,” says Kelly.
Not too enthusiastic about ads? Then at the very least, you need to keep your social accounts active with updates and interesting tidbits.
“Regularly post on your social media account to showcase the cool things your business is doing in the community and peak customers’ interest,” adds Kelly. “For example, are you doing any charity or community events? Do you have specials going on in store? Are you partnering with another local business? These are all good content to showcase on social!”
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.
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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+.