5 ways to increase store footfall during Covid-19

Imogen Wethered
by Imogen Wethered

Stores may have reopened, but now retailers are up against an even bigger hurdle – convincing customers to return to stores. Here’s how retailers can use appointment scheduling software and other tools to increase foot traffic to their stores.

While the majority of stores have reopened, many retailers are experiencing significantly smaller footfall rates – which comes down to a number of factors. Customers are still heavily reducing their trips to stores, pubs and restaurants in a bid to reduce their risk of catching or spreading the virus, while many are still working from home, stopping them from visiting the usual hotspots they’d usually frequent.

But there are a number of approaches retailers can use to increase store traffic.

1) Allow customers to schedule time-slots to enter stores

One of the biggest factors stopping customers from visiting stores is the fear of having to wait in long queues.

That’s why some retailers, such as luxury department stores Brown Thomas and Selfridges, are using appointment booking software to allow customers to book specific time-slots to enter their stores.

The Brown Thomas time-slot booking interface allows customers to select a time to visit stores.

This way customers know they won’t have to wait in line and can plan their journey, pickup or view the items they are there for, and leave – and they can, of course, be persuaded to stay a little longer if the journey feels safe.

Find out more about time-slot scheduling software.

2) Let customers book appointments with store associates

During the lockdown period online sales skyrocketed, allowing many customers to realize that one of the most important aspects they missed about visiting stores is the in-person service.

Being able to chat with an expert in-person is a great way for customers to receive service and ask questions, but many will be put off by the prospect of having to wait in a queue to receive service. Allowing customers to book an appointment time with an in-store expert using appointment booking software is a great way to draw in consumers to your stores.

3) Eliminate queues altogether

Nobody likes waiting in a queue at the best of times, but especially not during a global pandemic. That’s why many retailers such as Asda are eliminating queues to enter stores by introducing a virtual queuing system.

Customers can enter virtual queues simply by scanning a QR code or sending in a code via SMS (or through a kiosk or store associate). Once in the queue, they receive a position number, estimated wait time and a weblink to track their progress. They then receive an alert via SMS and email when it’s time to enter the store.

Asda’s virtual queuing system interface.

The same approach is being used inside of stores for services or popular departments. For instance, Brown Thomas is using virtual queues for popular brands like Lululemon or Chanel.

By introducing virtual queues, retailers are creating an environment where customers feel safe to visit and return.

4) Contactless click and collect

Enable customers to easily collect online orders without having to enter your store and join a physical queue or try to get the attention of a staff member.

Many retailers are using click and collect software to allow customers to check-in via their mobile phones by simply scanning a QR code. This alerts store staff that the customer has arrived and provides the customer with an estimated wait-time.

Electronics retailer Currys PC World has done an exceptional job at creating a contactless drive-thru click and collect service – over 300 stores now have a contactless curbside collection service. Watch the customer journey below.

5) Virtual appointments

While it might seem counter-intuitive, providing a virtual service to customers via video or phone is a great way to draw customers in-store. During the lockdown, many retailers connected their style, design, tech or customer service experts with consumers through video, and a large number are still experiencing strong demand for virtual service. This approach creates a strong interest in your brand and can draw consumers in-store.

Irish department store retailer, Brown Thomas, said 60-70% of its virtual service customers were new, helping the brand to reach an entirely new audience.

Find out more about virtual appointments.

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