How to Boost Foot Traffic In A Retail Store: 7 Proven, Timely Tips

how to boost foot traffic

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Updated December 13, 2023

Boosting foot traffic in today's retail landscape goes beyond the basics.

In my book, The Retail Doctor’s Guide To Growing Your Business (Wiley), I explored traditional methods like enhancing store aesthetics and signage. However, the retail game continues to evolve.

It's about crafting unforgettable in-store experiences and leveraging innovative marketing strategies to draw in more shoppers. Remember, to entice customers to enter your store, you must offer them something they can't find elsewhere. This includes embracing trends like experiential retail, omnichannel marketing, and personalized customer engagement. It's not just about attracting more shoppers; it's about creating a destination offering more value, unique experiences, and, ultimately, more sales.

7 Best Ways to Increase Foot Traffic in a Retail Store

Try these seven expert techniques to increase store traffic quickly. Getting results doesn’t necessarily take much time or a big budget. Even incorporating just three new methods can help your store attract more shoppers.

1. Master One Social Media Platform 

Over half of all 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 distract 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 from around the world, but you have to be a student of one channel and master it first.

Shopify reports that Instagram boasts the highest average order value ($65), while 2/3 of all social media visits to Shopify sites originate on Facebook. Choose one and do it well.

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.

Even though it is connected to Instagram, Facebook is a whole different animal. Facebook users will spend twice as long on a brand’s page with 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... 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 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 TikTok. 

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.” You’ll probably throw time and money down the drain unless you know.

2. Hold an event

You’ve heard me say that 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.

One time, I found 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 online or virtual event, commit and use enough resources to make it stand out in everyone’s mind.

A good way to start is to brainstorm with your crew. “What kind of event would stand out in our community and get people talking?” Then, ask your best customers for ideas. Planning is the key to creating the best in-store events so check out this blog: 9 Elements To Make Your Store Event A Success That Builds Retail Sales.

3. Watch HGTV

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 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 during the holidays, but at any 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 JC Penney's changes over about ten years. First, there were no coupons, and then coupons were back; Baby Boomer moms were their main focus, then they were dropped, Millennials became the ticket, and then they weren't. They lost sight of their customer and may not even exist much longer. You must be consistent and know precisely who your girl or guy is and speak to them directly all the time.

5. Redo your website

Remember, many shopping trips begin, 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 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, its 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 photograph it professionally. 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 possible. Add social sharing buttons under every product to help convert lookers into buyers and brand ambassadors.

6. Ask for referrals

You have to work word-of-mouth. Ask your customers at the counter, “Who else 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 have trouble keeping people, if you have 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.

Ordinary people can craft an exceptional experience as well as anybody, provided they are trainable, 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 that is more robot than human experience.

Make shoppers refer to your store as their store because it feels like shopping with a friend. 

How do you 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 compete 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.

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.