Whether you’re opening your first retail store, a veteran retailer or an experienced merchant simply wanting to boost sales, identifying opportunities to increase foot traffic is among the most critical ways to enhance store performance.
In fact, a study from May 2019 reveals, “Shopping in person is actually a revenue booster for retailers because in-store shoppers spend more.” Expanding on this, Forbes explains, “Emotion plays a role in shopping behavior. There is a human side of in-store shopping and shoppers crave that visceral experience.”
71% of shoppers spent more than $50 when shopping in a store, while only 54% of shoppers did the same when shopping online.
Keeping this in mind, what strategies do you have in place to strengthen your store foot traffic in the days, weeks, months and even years ahead? Below, explore 5 tips highlighting how modern merchants can capture more customer attention through strategic, engaging ways that help increase customer visits to their stores.
1: Leverage Digital Engagement to Increase In-Store Engagement
Deliotte reports that 47% of millennials are influenced by social media when making a purchase decision – including those made in physical stores – and 19% of total consumers are influenced by social media during a purchase process.
Additionally, peer to peer review sites such as Yelp offers customers first-hand testimonials on past shopping experiences that ultimately persuade customers to shop one place versus another. Keeping this in mind, it’s important to factor in your digital presence so that as customers make decisions on where they want to shop, your store is on their radar.
To help enhance your digital presence, make sure that your store branding is both updated and consistent across all digital touchpoints where your brand is represented. Go the extra mile to routinely post, respond, react, and offer insight that connects with your digital audience.
3 points to consider for optimizing digital engagement for in-store foot traffic
- Make sure all digital touchpoints offer accurate store contact information. After all, you can’t increase foot traffic if customers can’t find you. Consider every digital destination where your store is represented. This includes Yelp, Facebook, Yellow Pages, Google, local directories and more. Then be sure to routinely update them as needed to ensure customers can always find you. Is it especially important to update your business hours on to reflect your business hours on holidays, or if you are closing for renovations.
- Give online buyers a reason to go into physical stores. When Kohls and Amazon announced their partnership, many customers and even some industry experts were surprised and skeptical. Kohls, however, was not. Their expectation to gain increased foot traffic paid off. Rather than shy away from what is technically a retail competitor – Amazon – they have raised the bar on what customers expect and want as part of their digital shopping experiences. Your own store can learn from this and encourage customers to buy online, pick up in-store (also known as BOPIS) or even partner with other businesses to use your store as a place for inventory management. For instance, for returns or pick-up.
- Encourage customers to check-in on social media to increase your brand visibility. For example, when a customer checks in to a business on Facebook, each of their friends will see this check-in. As a result, your business benefits from increased digital publicity. Through in-store signage, incentives and even sales associate’s conversations, encourage your customers to do this as a way for your store to gain more awareness.
2. Lean on Technology to Bring Clarity to Foot Traffic Behavior
When it comes to managing retail businesses, speed and precision are essential in order to make more timely and more accurate business decisions. This includes understanding how consumers navigate and spend time within retail environments.
Thanks to modern technologies that deliver foot traffic data – such as Dor Technologies– businesses can gain stronger clarity in customer behavior. Thus, they can plan future efforts to support this behavior. From strengthening merchandising strategies based on how customers navigate stores to creating events around peak foot traffic times, the data revealed from this type of technology is vital to better understanding customers journey to purchase.
The catch? It’s not just about getting customers into stores. It is also about keeping them there. Through the data captured, retailers can react to the intelligence gained by adjusting their stores to better accommodate customers. Ultimately this helps to keep customers in their stores longer.
It can be as simple as moving hot-selling items from one location to another. Or, it can be more complex. Such as creating interactive displays that encourage stronger customer engagement. The main goal is simple really…to react to foot traffic data to strengthen in-store interactions.
3: Create Entertaining In-Store Experiences
Customers do not always shop with a purchase in mind. Sometimes they shop simply to enjoy the general shopping experience. Leverage this reality by creating in-store experiences that delight your customers. Encourage them to interact while in your store.
Try creating hands-on displays that encourage customers to touch inventory. Have demonstrations of certain items throughout your store. You can incorporate technology to entertain, inform and even help customers during their shopping journeys. The idea is to provide opportunities for customers to be stimulated outside of their own store navigation.
One example of this is Sephora’s use of intelligent mirrors. The mirrors engage consumers and give product knowledge.
Another example could include QSRs offering product tastings. It can be as simple as skincare retailers giving samples of products.
Setting up gift wrapping stations for customers to wrap their own purchases gives customers another reason to pause and become engaged while in your store environment. This pause is what ultimately leads to purchases. Collectively, this is a winning scenario that helps enhance foot traffic in stores.
4: Introduce Text-Message Promotions into Your Marketing Efforts
For brick and mortar retailers, incorporating an omnichannel strategy into marketing efforts is essential to increase foot traffic. Among the ways to do this is to incorporate digital promotions that help create and strengthen relationships with customers. For modern customers and merchants alike, mobile ranks among the best ways to reach this goal.
More specifically, text-message marketing allows retailers to share store news, events and promotions in real-time to help increase foot traffic.
In fact, 82% of smartphone users report referencing their phone during part of their purchase journey. Thus, texting is a natural extension to consider.
You can send a promotional code to show in-store inventory details, offer alerts to last-minute events or deals and even send links that direct customers to news from your store.
Remember, that customers need to opt-in for these types of updates. As a result, make it part of your purchase process to capture customer phone number details into your CRM so that you can then use these details in future marketing efforts.
5: Engage With Your Local Community to increase foot traffic
Retailers can be easily distracted by their nonstop to-do lists when it comes to operating their stores – particularly when you factor the competitive nature of the retail landscape. That said, don’t lose sight of your target consumer audience and more specifically, your local community.
Networking outside of store hours, participating in community activities, hosting locally-inspired events and staying engaged within your hometown – aka store’s hometown – can reward your business with more customers.
Another tip to consider? Identify through in-store signage and online marketing any locally produced items you sell. Highlighting this local flair can help boost customer attention and sales alike.
Finally, when it comes to foot traffic, remember that repetition is key. You want to build a business based on the loyalty of customers and passion from your team. Using software to regularly audit your stores ensures your operating standards are met and staff are engaged. Collectively, this is what will help keep your business strong and your foot traffic consistent.
By combining the tips above with a strong retail audit program to operate your store, you will be well-positioned to welcome customers one step at a time!
Remember, about one in every six customers entering a retail location could benefit from some type of physical or mental accommodation. It’s a huge audience to ignore. And a huge opportunity to consider. Improving upon the digital and physical experience for these shoppers, however, can deliver benefits for stores and customers alike.
About the author:
Nicole Leinbach Reyhle is the Founder of RetailMinded and the author of Retail 101. She is a frequent contributor to The Today Show, Forbes and is the Spokesperson for American Express’s Small Business Saturday. Reyhle is recognized as a Top 10 retail thought leader from Vend and a retail “futurist” for IBM. Reyhle is also the Co-Founder of the Independent Retailer Conference.