Even before the pandemic, retailers often asked me how to increase foot traffic in a retail store.
In my last book, The Retail Doctor’s Guide To Growing Your Business (Wiley), I detailed several ways to attract more customers. I told you to clean out your windows, increase your signage, repaint, and sweep off your sidewalks and parking lots throughout the day. These are basic but often forgotten ways to attract more people to your store.
And every business wants more...
Here’s the thing, when you're looking for how to sell more, you have to go out of your way before shoppers will go out of theirs.
That means you also need to create great in-store experiences as well as use new marketing ideas to increase your customers.
7 Best Ways To Increase Foot Traffic In A Retail Store
Try these seven expert techniques to quickly increase store traffic. It doesn’t necessarily take a lot of time or a big budget to get results. Even incorporating just three of these methods can help your store attract more shoppers.
1. Master One Social Media Platform
Over half of shoppers follow brands on social media to view new products. While it would be great if we all could do every social media channel well, the reality is, without a lot of money, you can’t.
Done poorly, social media can be a distraction from the hard work of waiting on, serving, and selling to those on your sales floor. Done well, it can attract a whole new audience for you from around the world, but you have to be a student of one channel and master it first.
If you choose Instagram, make sure you understand why and how to put the link in your bio, how to find the right hashtags, what influencers repost, how to add to your story, how to understand to shoot videos in vertical format, how to use IGTV, how to use captions for your photos, and how to connect your online store to be able to sell via Instagram.
Facebook, even though it is connected to Instagram, it is a whole different animal. Facebook users will spend twice as long on a brand’s Facebook page that has a video. Make sure you understand how important LIVE video is, that they are filmed in horizontal mode, why Facebook rewards those LIVE videos with greater reach (and lower cost to boost), how to create custom audiences and lookalike audiences, and how to connect your online account to allow people to buy via Messenger.
And for those of you who also love YouTube... according to a study by the Pew Research Center, after Google, more people search on YouTube than on any other site. It is the most popular platform among teenagers, beating out giants like Facebook and Instagram. If you can commit to video and you have a young target audience, YouTube is where you should be.
And if you're going after Gen Z you probably want to be on Tik Tok even though it is uncertain who will own it in the near future.
Learn all you can about one social medium but don’t just pawn it off to someone’s sister’s boyfriend’s friend who “knows social.” Unless you know, you’ll probably throw time and money down the drain.
2. Hold an event
You’ve heard me say it before: retail exists to answer a shopper’s query, “What’s new?”
While you used to be able to hold an event and give away food and prizes, unless it got visitors to unlock their wallets and buy something, it was often a bust.
Pre-pandemic, I came upon a hardware store that was tired of foot traffic declines in late winter, so they held a belt sander race. Yes, it’s a thing. And where did entrants go to soup up their power tool? The retailer. If you decide to do an event either online or virtual, commit and use enough resources to make it stand out in everyone’s mind.
Curb appeal isn’t just for house-flippers. Their techniques to highlight front entrances translate to increasing retail store foot traffic quite easily. Having a clear, landscaped path to your door may seem like a luxury if you are on Main Street, but you can still put colorful pots of flowers to set your business off from the mainstream.
Making sure to water with Miracle-Gro in the summer and putting lights in conifers or on tree limbs makes your store bright even in the dead of winter.
4. Be consistent
Decide how and when you'll talk to your followers and fans and stick with it. You can’t keep changing on a dime over and over again. You will confuse your customers and confused customers can’t rave about you. You can’t be posting multiple times a day on one social media and go dark the next. You can’t send an email out at the holidays but at no other time.
While you want the overall message of your store to be consistent, its looks need to change with regularity or it becomes stale.
You may remember all the changes JC Penney went through in the past 10 years. First no coupons, then coupons were back; then Baby Boomer moms were their main focus, then they were dropped and Millennials became the ticket and now they aren’t. They lost sight of their customer and now may not even exist much longer. You must be consistent and know exactly who your girl or guy is and speak to them directly all the time.
5. Redo your website
As people slowly come out of their houses, remember every shopping trip is a special trip that begins, in one way or another, online. To get those online shoppers to visit your website, your site needs a modern look that is not built on the same template as everyone else’s in your association and the latest in technology.
A modern look is visual, tells a story, and gets shoppers to linger. To bring your great in-store service onto your website, use technology to provide a more personal customer experience. Add a chatbot that can answer basic questions and even allow scheduling or a live chat like Podium. As the app gets smarter, their underlying artificial intelligence can help you understand your most frequently asked questions.
After you refresh and re-merchandise your store – yes, I just threw that in – hire a professional photographer to professionally photograph it. Make sure to have people shopping in the store –- you don’t want it to look dead. You want to provide as many ways for online shoppers to share and buy your products as you can. Add social sharing buttons under every product to help convert lookers into buyers and into brand ambassadors.
6. Ask for referrals
You have to work word-of-mouth. Ask your customers at the counter, “Who else do you think would like our shop?” In one of my podcasts, Patricia Fripp explains how she gave every customer at her salon three business cards. She would say, "One is for you, and two are for the next two people who tell you how good your hair looks."
Why not for your tire store? Your running store? If they love the experience – and they’d better – why wouldn’t they help you?
7. Hire better
Like attracts like. If you’re having trouble keeping people, if you’re having trouble holding employees accountable to arrive on time every time, and if you can’t get them to take retail sales training, then realize you probably weren’t as thorough as you should have been in your hiring process.
Average people can craft an exceptional experience as well as anybody provided they are trainable, they have self-esteem, and are willing to learn on the job.
Retailers are going out of business with people shopping online. And often shoppers have an encounter like this which is more robot than human experience.
To avoid that happening, provide associates with the right training and set a culture of excellence.
That way, they can make shoppers refer to your store as their store because it feels like shopping with a friend.
How to increase foot traffic in a retail store? Understand that people who feel they matter buy more than those who don’t.
Increase Foot Traffic In A Retail Store With Loyal Shoppers
Don't forget that in addition to ways to increase foot traffic in a retail store, you need to get loyal shoppers to return more often. The best way to attract more shoppers is to create an exceptional experience they’ll rave about.
That takes retail sales training -- either in-person or online.
That’s because you can’t wing engagement. You can’t wing authenticity and you sure as heck can’t wing competing against Amazon and the rest during a pandemic. Many retailers’ only method to attract people is offering more discounts, but there is always someone cheaper -- always.
Use these seven tips to attract more shoppers. At the same time, use retail sales training to convert those shoppers from lookers into buyers.
Retailers are going out of business with people shopping online. With SalesRX online retail sales training, we teach your staff how to reach people face-to-face to sell more of your merchandise.
Take my free 5-part email course to learn how your retail store can outsell any online retailer. You can get started with your first lesson by entering your name and email address below ...