Today’s shopper is more technologically advanced than ever before. If consumers increasingly prefer e-commerce to brick-and-mortar shopping, why do we still need physical stores? Why do businesses still want to increase foot traffic in retail stores?
E-commerce sales in 2021 accounted for only 13.2 percent of total sales. This means that brick-and-mortar is still the most popular way to shop for most Americans. Additionally, the ability to see, touch and try products before purchase remains the biggest motivator for consumers to shop offline.
With regular foot traffic, businesses get to interact with customers personally and engage them in sales. They can generate word-of-mouth advertising and, in turn, repeat customers through recommendations. Keeping this in mind, you can guess why foot traffic is so important to retail establishments – higher foot traffic can lead to higher sales.
There are many ways you can use marketing tactics and insights to drive foot traffic to your business. Explore eleven effective strategies highlighting how modern business owners can capture more customer attention and increase customer visits to their stores. We cover these points under three major sections of this blog:
So without further ado, here is your comprehensive guide on how to increase foot traffic to your retail store!
I. Incentivize store visits
An omnichannel approach to marketing and a sound web-to-store strategy can do wonders to increase footfall in a retail business. Bring online and offline together by combining the major advantages of these two channels.
1. Organize in-store events and workshops
One of the best things you can do to increase foot traffic and as a result, in-store sales is to organize various events, like new product launches, runway shows, shopping festivals, etc. This is important and why it works so well because consumers still view shopping as entertainment. Having the right atmosphere and mood in your physical store can work wonders.
For instance, Sephora regularly hosts beauty classes and events and offers in-store make-up services across all its locations. This not only provides an additional stream of revenue to Sephora but also drives footfall to their brick and mortar stores.
According to that 2017 Mood Media study, music is a crucial element of a great in-store shopping experience. In fact, 81% of shoppers globally agreed that the shopping experience is more enjoyable if a store is playing music. This figure rockets to 90% among those 18-24. The same study suggests that consumers love in-store events, especially brick-and-mortar store openings of online-only brands.
So why not organize a shopping night with live music and cocktails? Power these events with heavy promotion on your website and social media and your store will be jam-packed.
2. Offer in-store redeemable mobile promotions
Consumers rely more on their mobile devices to research even the smallest decisions on the go. But they also are more susceptible to mobile communication than, for instance, email.
Research shows that text message open rates in the US are 82%, which is a mind-boggling number when compared to the email open rate, hovering at around 24%. This once again proves that SMS marketing is not only alive but thriving. You should really consider implementing mobile marketing solutions, including a phone number collection program.
Source: Marks and Spencers
If you want to speed things up a little bit, you can go for Facebook Lead Ads to collect phone numbers fast by offering something enticing in return.
Once you have your first batch, you can start sending coupons and gift codes to your list via SMS. Encourage customers to visit your brick-and-mortar store and redeem them. Another great way to collect customer phone numbers is to incentivize them upon check out on your website, by offering free shipping or even the in-store redeemable coupon itself.
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An effective way to encourage repeat visits is to give shoppers an offer they can redeem on their next purchase. Knowing that a discount is waiting for them at the next store visit is enough to prod people to come back, and has the potential to drive footfall to a retail business!
3. Offer in-store exchanges and returns
Despite all technological advancements, online shoppers still do not have the opportunity to see, touch, and try products before purchase. There is little you can do to minimize order returns, but if you want to drive foot traffic in a retail business and also improve customer experience, you can offer in-store returns and exchanges.
A study by Invesp Conversion Rate Optimization Company reveals that 9 out of 10 consumers will buy something again if returns are easy and hassle-free. Moreover, 62% of shoppers are more likely to purchase online if there is an option to return items in-store.
This means that having a great in-store return and exchange experience will not only drive your customers from the web to your store but will also give them another reason to shop with you next time.
Tip: The good way to increase foot traffic in a business is by introducing value-driven services. Come up with relevant services that you can offer shoppers to encourage them to pay you a visit.
The idea here is to get your repeat customers to visit you again. While they may be in the store to exchange or return items with no intention of making a new purchase, a busy looking store is always good for business!
4. Buy online, pick up in-store
In the previous section, we came up with a strategy to attract repeat customers to your brick-and-mortar store. This time, we’re going to incentivize your e-commerce shoppers to pay a visit to your retail business.
Customers hate to pay for shipping. So the first thing you can do to ease their pain is to offer an in-store pickup option, also known as BOPIS. With BOPIS, shoppers don’t have to deal with long delivery timelines and shipping back items that don’t fit or meet their expectations. This is a very popular service offered by almost every major retailer, and it is something you can easily implement for your customers as well.
Another thing you can offer to drive foot traffic to your small business is the ability to reserve the product online and collect it in-store. This option works best for new product releases and can help build excitement. Here is an example from Target’s website:
Although BOPIS is an attractive alternative for most shoppers, it still makes sense to provide some extra incentives, like faster shipping or even an in-store redeemable coupon. An important thing to consider when implementing buy online pick up in-store service is to make sure the whole experience is as smooth and convenient as possible.
- Use a multichannel integration platform to connect your store inventory to your website and make sure they are always in sync.
- Train your in-store sales staff to serve BOPIS customers with special care and in case of immediate returns or exchanges and be ready to offer more profitable alternatives.
- Put up proper in-store signage and make it extremely easy for customers to navigate the store and find the pickup location without getting overly frustrated.
Tip: In order to make this omnichannel marketing strategy work, you need to provide a consistent experience to clients across all channels. Consider using a retail appointment scheduling software (like Appointy!) that automatically displays real-time availability for your services and boosts CTA conversions across platforms!
II. Enhance your digital presence
Having an online presence is more essential than ever when it comes to building your brand, increasing your credibility, and managing your reputation. While some platforms require investment, such as social ads or working with external experts to create videos, there are a number of free and low-cost tools available.
1. Optimize for “near me” searches
Following the explosive growth of mobile, consumers now expect to receive specifically tailored and personalized search results whenever and wherever using near-me queries.
Near-me searches are location specific search queries, usually aimed at getting quick results nearby. The tricky part is that it’s not enough to be geographically near the searcher to rank high in search results. Here are some quick local SEO tips to get you started and drive traffic to your store.
- Make sure your website is mobile-ready, as mobile-first indexing has been the default since 2019
- Perfect your Google My Business listing as it is critical for local search rankings. Verify your listing and keep it up to date at all times.
Tip: Be sure to add as many details about your business as possible – including your address, phone number, hours of operation, special features, and good quality pictures!
- Optimize your website metadata with “near me” keywords. Do not overdo it, but rather keep it relevant and user-friendly
- Get geographic anchor backlinks from authority websites
- Encourage customers to leave reviews on your Google My Business listing.
- Shortlist your happiest customers who use Gmail and reach out to them with a quick link to review your business on Google.
2. Target and localize your digital ads
Digital advertising should be a big part of your marketing budget, and you want to make sure you utilize it properly and with maximum ROI. Luckily, there are many local advertising solutions on most ad networks and particularly on Google.
On average shoppers search and purchase via multiple channels almost 40% of the time and the majority of these shoppers go to a search engine to start their research. So it really is important to target and convert these consumers at the early consideration stage.
Here’s how you can do it using local advertising on Google.
- If you already have active search ads, go ahead and set up location extensions in your Adwords account.
- This will allow you to show local search ads with your address, a map of your location, or the distance to your store.
While these ads will help in driving footfall in a retail store, there is an even more powerful ad type that is specifically designed to bring online searchers straight to your local store.
- Local Inventory Ads ads show the stock availability of an item at your local store along with the typical product information that shows up in a regular Google shopping ad.
- When you click on a Local Inventory Ad, it takes you to a digital storefront with your local store information, including stock availability, address, phone number, email, and hours.
3. Provide comprehensive inventory information
There is a common myth that consumers who search online will only visit online shops. That is not entirely true. In fact, three out of four consumers are more likely to visit physical stores if they find local information in search results helpful. So why not give your consumers what they look for?
First of all, make sure your store locator is up and running.
- Let your shoppers easily find their local store and make sure to provide all details, like phone number, email, and address.
- Then go one step further and provide local inventory availability information for each item and each local store.
You might be wondering why customers even need this if they can buy products online and pick up them in the store?
- It turns out that a lot of shoppers do not want to pay upfront, especially for specific products, like personal hygiene and care items, that are more difficult to return and get a refund for.
- So informing your website visitors about the stock availability at your local store can be great in increasing foot traffic among undecided customers.
Ikea is one of the biggest retailers to have successfully implemented this on their website. It offers website visitors to choose the local store and see the inventory of a particular product in that store. This information can be especially helpful if your customers tend to buy items in bulk.
4. Engaging social media strategy to drive foot traffic
76% of consumers buy products they discover on social media. Sites and apps like Facebook and Instagram can effectively put your merchandise and store in front of your target audience.
Identify the social networks that your customers are using and maintain an active presence on those sites or apps. For best results, mix up your content by publishing multiple types of posts and by varying the content format. Make sure to tag your location to give people a subtle reminder to check out your store.
Tip: Create an Instagram wall or dedicate a nook or corner in your store for taking pictures. You’ll attract people who want to take in-store photos and you’ll increase your social visibility thanks to all posts your guests share online.
As a brick-and-mortar store, you can leverage the power of influencers by inviting them into your shop. Show them around, offer them product or service samples, and give them lots of opportunities to take photos.
Here is another strategy you could try yourself. The key to increasing footfall in retail stores is by making sure they know how close they are to you. So you might consider constructing an ad around a limited edition item. When the ad does its job and a customer clicks on your CTA, they could be redirected to a map showing the nearest location.
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III. Work on your storefront and ambience
A retail storefront is a display of retail products in an environment where customers can peruse and purchase goods. It gives you access to consumers and can convey what your brand and products are all about to the general public. A retail storefront can be a valuable tool for marketing your business because customers are able to see and handle your inventory in person, which can lead to higher sales.
1. Create unique in-store experiences
The power of in-store experiences is incomparable to online shopping in any way. It is the top reason for consumers around the world to choose brick-and-mortar over e-commerce. So how can you make your in-store experience a blast? Start with eliminating the main consumer pain points. Here are some ways you can do that to drive foot traffic to your store –
- Did you know that waiting in line is the number one in-store frustration for 60% of shoppers around the world? Leverage the advantages of having (more) mobile POS devices to cut the lines at cash registers and accept card payments on the spot. This will serve you particularly well during in-store sales.
- Another thing you can do to ease the hectic atmosphere in your store is by creating an immersive brand experience with uplifting background music, proper lighting, and smell. Yes, the smell is actually even more powerful than you think. Scent travels to your brain immediately and is closely linked to memory. That is why it is widely used by major retailers to influence consumer behavior in-store.
By investing in experiential retail, you’re giving consumers more reasons to walk into your store and spend time experiencing what your brand has to offer. It’s the gateway to building a lasting relationship with your customers. Brands like Lululemon, which are associated with fitness and health, take this to a new level by offering exclusive access to meditation rooms, gyms, and juice bars in their experiential retail stores.
Ensure that your team members wow every customer who walks in. Think of sales staff as personal shoppers or consultants. Strive to build up a reputation for providing excellent customer service. Doing so increases customer loyalty and drives positive word of mouth – both of which can boost foot traffic.
2. Attract customers with your curb appeal
If you want to stop people in their tracks, then a standalone sandwich board right outside your store could do the trick. Sandwich boards are inexpensive and they’re easy to set up. Place one right outside your store with a compelling offer or even just a witty statement. You’re bound to attract eyeballs, and, in turn, drive traffic to your store.
It doesn’t matter how great your merchandise is, if your storefront looks dirty or unkempt, people won’t be enticed to come in. Keep your storefront well-cared for. Have a checklist of daily and weekly maintenance tasks. Items could include shining your glass windows, sweeping up your curbside, wiping down walls, etc.
No conversation about increasing foot traffic would be complete without talking about window displays. Your windows heavily impact people’s decision to walk into your store, so you want to make sure they’re a hit. Remember, eye level is buy level. Research shows that merchandise placed 4 to 5 feet from the ground receives 35% more attention.
Tip: Space conveys value in retail. The more open space you have, the higher the perceived value of your merchandise. So, if you’re a high-end retailer, make sure to have a lot of space between products.
Here are some more ideas to increase foot traffic to your retail store-
- Seasonal decor like holiday lights, pumpkins, or American flags can be an instant way to update your building’s exterior and keep its look fresh. Make a point of updating your seasonal decor on a regular basis to avoid sending the wrong message.
- A shabby looking parking lot can make potential customers wary to leave their car, which could ultimately lead them to decide not to stop by your store. But you can easily enhance the look of your parking lot by doing simple, cost-effective things such as painting new lines.
- Businesses that are surrounded by a stark, vacant lot without any adornment can be off-putting. Adding some bushes, flowering plants, landscaping boulders, or other decorative elements can give a friendlier impression.
3. Ramp up your interiors and amenities
Having the right external elements can attract new visitors, but if you want to keep driving foot traffic, your store needs to feel fresh and updated. Regularly bring out new merchandise and rotate your displays around the store. Mix things up to ensure that there’s something new to see in your location.
When looking to attract your target customers, you also have to consider the people they’re with. Your customers’ companions can influence their shopping decisions, so be considerate and find ways to cater to their needs. Set up couches where the significant others can hang out. If you’re dealing with parents, create a children’s area in-store.
For modern consumers, the lure of these digital amenities like Wi-Fi is hard to resist, so consider offering them in-store. You might be wondering: won’t you attract people who are only there for the free services? Sure, you will. But you’ll also attract shoppers who wouldn’t have walked in otherwise. And some of them could end up making a purchase.
And that’s the end of our blog on how to increase foot traffic in a retail store! E-commerce is on the rise and will continue to grow remarkably in the near future. It changes the way consumers shop and influences offline sales as well. However, traditional brick-and-mortar retail is far from dead and is going through an exciting yet transformative change.
Remember that all your investments in foot traffic will go to waste if you don’t convert your visitors into paying customers. So, for our final tip, we want to emphasize the importance of optimizing your conversation rate. After all, when it comes to retail success, foot traffic and conversions go hand-in-hand!
We at Appointy, help business owners grow and run their businesses with our online scheduling software. This blog was a part of our ‘Manage your Business’ category, where we provide expert tips, resources, or simply talk about the challenges that small and medium businesses face every day.
If you have any thoughts on this blog, or would like to chat about your business struggles and achievements, let us know in the comments below.
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