It’s no secret that foot-fall has slowed over the last few years and driving customers in-store is becoming more challenging. In addition to competing with other retail stores, online retailers are increasingly gaining market share and shifting shoppers’ focus off the high street.
Kevin Graff, Founder and President of Graff Retail, has over 25 years experience in improving retail business performance. Alongside Author and Vend Retail Expert Francesca Nicasio, Kevin shares his insights on creating a steady flow of visitors to your store, to improve sales and foot traffic.
Update and upgrade your storefront
According Kevin Graff, one of the first things retailers can do to start increasing foot traffic is to improve their store front displays and windows. “Make your store look like it’s worth coming into,” he says.
Keep your window displays fresh by updating them at least twice a month (and every week during the Christmas shopping season) so consumers always have something new to look at when they pass by your store.
You can also make your displays more compelling through storytelling. Francesca Nicasio says that one way to do this is to incorporate narratives into your displays.
“Make sure your fixtures are doing something more than simply showcasing your products. For instance, instead of just putting up mannequins wearing your merchandise, throw in some props or a nice backdrop for additional context. Use those fixtures to tell stories.”
Bonus points if you could make those displays sharable. Apparel retailer Anthropolgie, for example, encourages customers to snap photos of their displays and share them via social media using the hashtag #AnthroWindows.
Kevin adds that a “non-stop social marketing approach is essential” to increasing foot traffic and sales, so see to it that you’re constantly keeping people posted over social media.
There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to publishing on social networks, so it’s best to see what works best for your store and audience. “Start by figuring out the top social networks you should be participating in, then determine the best types of content to publish on each site or app,” advises Francesca.
You can also check out what similar retailers in your industry are doing. Visit the social accounts of your competitors, see what’s working for them (and what isn’t) then refine your social media strategy accordingly.
Encourage repeat visits with your in-store experience
“Better service and shopping experiences get customers coming back more often,” says Graff, which is why retailers should continuously find ways to step up their in-store strategies.
There are plenty of ways to accomplish this. One is to give your staff additional training in customer service and sales so they’re the best they can be. As Kevin puts it, “you could sell 5 to 15% more just by getting your staff to wait on customers and being more effective at selling to them.”
Francesca adds that you can improve the in-store experience by offering additional services, such as in-store pickup. In addition to increasing foot traffic, doing so can also increase sales. A recent study has found 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, around 50% of respondents have opted for in-store pick up, and 45% of them made additional purchases during their visit.
Boosting the physical retail experience can also be done through events, such as meet-ups, shows, or classes, so try to organise in-store functions and give your customers the opportunity to learn, mingle, and have fun.
The bottom line is, improving the in-store experience is about offering something people can’t find online or anywhere else. Whether it’s the convenience of getting their hands on their purchases sooner rather than later, or experiencing unparalleled customer service that ecommerce can’t match, you need to ensure that the experiences that customers find at your store are not just satisfying, but compelling enough to keep them coming back.
Stay on the radar of your existing customers
While finding new customers is something that should always be on your to-do list, don’t forget that taking care of existing customers is just as (if not more) important - especially when it comes to driving foot traffic.
The good news is, enticing existing customers to come back is easier than getting people to shop with you for the first time, so re-engaging your current customer base shouldn’t be an uphill battle. You just have to figure out the most effective way to connect with them.
Kevin suggests “picking up the phone and calling your best customers,” to get them into your store. Or consider sending out emails to your subscribers inviting them to re-visit your shop. For some retailers, sending out text messages has proven to be an effective tactic. Whatever you decide, see to it that you’re communicating with shoppers using a medium that they actually like.
Also be sure to personalise how you engage with customers. Take note of their tastes and purchase history, so whether you’re communicating via phone, SMS, or email, you can reconnect with them in the most relevant way.
Take for instance, Bal Harbour Boutique in the UK, which sends shoppers text messages if they’re carrying new items that they might appreciate. Dena Stemmer, owner of the boutique told the Vend blog, “we know the taste of our customers and text them when something comes into the store that we think they’ll like.”
If you’re looking for more insights on increasing in-store traffic and sales, Kevin Graff will be hosting Vend’s upcoming Retail Success webinar - 21 Proven Tactics to Increase Sales in Your Retail Store. Tune in on the 30th June to learn about the tools and techniques that will help to improve your store’s bottom-line. It’s free for anyone to attend, simply register your interest here.