Retail isn’t dead – or dying! Retailers can increase footfall figures with a little creativity, some personalised services, and powerful in-store tech such as queuing systems and appointment booking systems.
One of the key challenges facing many modern retailers is lowering footfall figures – online shopping is booming and brick and mortar retailers are struggling to keep up.
But this isn’t a new problem – in fact, it’s been happening since Amazon first became a thing in the 90s – however, many retailers are becoming lethargic in their attempts to innovate.
On the bright side, research has shown that customers still want to visit stores, they simply need a reason to visit besides shopping for the sake of shopping.
As stores reopen post lockdown, increasing footfall is imperative. Here are seven key initiatives retailers can use to increase footfall in their stores:
1) Think outside the box by expanding your offering with personal services
If customers want to buy products quickly, they should be able to easily do so through your website and your stores – which is particularly important in today’s Covid-19 environment. But to add value to customers, drive footfall and build long-lasting relationships, a number of retailers are offering added value services in-store, such as styling advice, electronics repairs and servicing or product tutorials.
This approach not only enables retailers to showcase their products, it also puts the brand’s most powerful marketing tool at the very forefront – its people. And while it might not always convert customers then and there, it builds a relationship that converts across channels.
“Modern consumers need more from the brands they interact with than what they can find online,” says Qudini’s Commercial Director, Raj Sangha. “They need that human element – that’s why your people truly are your greatest asset.”
2) Build long-lasting relationships with a superior after-sales service
To inspire loyalty and build long-lasting customer relationships, retailers are increasingly investing in their after-sales services and support functions. This ensures that customers have a place to go for their product needs whilst enabling the retailer to maximize in-store sales opportunities and future sales conversions.
One great example of this is Samsung, who have made a huge push in recent years to support after-sales care, such as product servicing and repairs, by establishing a physical presence on the high street and allowing customers to seamlessly book appointments with experts both online and in-store. Find out more about appointment booking systems here.
Another retailer leading the way in forging strong customer relationships post-sale is American Eagle, who has installed a laundromat in its New York store to allow customers to wash their clothes free of charge – a great perk for its younger target demographic.
3) Engage consumers with immersive in-store experiences
While retailers might not be able to compete with online e-commerce giants like Amazon through price alone, 80% of customers are willing to pay more for a better experience, meaning customer experience is the new competitive frontier.
Most shoppers are “looking for more than a transaction” when they seek out retailers, says Lululemon’s Executive Vice President of Global Guest Innovation, Celeste Burgoyne.
Instead, they’re becoming hubs for customers to work, relax, play, socialize and learn whilst interacting with products and people to build long-lasting brand relationships.
Lululemon has built yoga studios and meditation rooms in its new experimental store in Chicago, alongside a restaurant, areas for visitors to work and a space where local businesses can showcase their goods.
Qudini’s CEO and Co-founder, Imogen Wethered, says: “Brands are investing in creative and compelling new ways to capture the consumer’s attention with immersive in-store experiences, such as cafes and work stations, through to basketball courts and VR experiences.”
“And while Covid-19 will have an impact on these initiatives going forward, the approach is still the same – engage the consumer!”
Instead of measuring success solely with ROI, consulting firm PwC has launched a new metric called Return on Experience (ROX), which is based on the short- and long-term value retailers gain after generating positive in-store experiences.
PwC’s Global Consumer Markets leader, John Maxwell, explained: “Whether your organisation sells household goods, health services, cars or financial services, delivering a superior experience will be what makes you a winner… Because consumers today are so discerning and powerful, it’s our perspective that most organisations need to invest far more in customer experience (CX).”
4) Drive customers in-store with click and collect services
The demand for click and collect purchases, where time-poor customers can buy products online and pick up in-store, has increased significantly in recent years. In the UK, 70% of retailers’ online sales are made to collect in-store.
It saves the customer from having to find products in-store then wait in line to make a purchase – which is very important during Covid-19. However, some click and collect lines can be equally as long or time-consuming as purchasing products in-store.
Retailers need to invest in contactless click and collect initiatives that offer a seamless collection experience through signing into the queue when arriving in-store to collect their orders or pre-booking their collection time beforehand.
“The number of customers making purchases with in-store pick up as the delivery option demonstrates how rapidly consumer behaviors are changing,” says Sangha.
“Retailers that invest in a seamless and pain free click and collect process will ultimately establish more profitable and longer-term relationships with customers than the retailers who do not.”
5) Turn your store into a showroom
Optimizing your retail space is imperative in today’s market – but as stores become less about pure product transactions, there is a reduced need to have rows upon rows of products stacked on shelves.
That’s why many retailers are turning their stores into showrooms, where customers can see and play with products in an immersive experience that emanates real-life, or perhaps something beyond. This enables customers to test products before collecting them from the store’s warehouse or ordering them directly to their homes.
We’re even seeing online and digital brands build stores for the benefit of showcasing their products to drive profit in-store and online. According to research by CACI, online sales are 50% higher within areas with a physical store environment (the so-called “Halo effect”).
A good example of a brand showrooming its range of products in an interesting light is Adidas. The sportswear and fashion brand’s new flagship store on Oxford Street recently launched its UltraBoost 20 range – a new product line developed in conjunction with the International Space Station (ISS). The in-store activation is a spaceship-inspired environment crafted from weathered steel, with moonlike textures and space-age tools, giving consumers an immersive retail experience with selfie booths, product trial areas, anti-gravity merchandising and gifts with purchase.
6) Give your stores a local flavor
In previous retail rulebooks it was good to think globally, but as the world becomes more connected, consumers crave a local touch – and a key part of this is personalization.
This means empowering your store associates to get to know your customers, creating a friendly atmosphere where customers feel compelled to dwell and stay a while, and even offering products and services that are unique instead of mass market.
Four out of five consumers are more likely to make a purchase when brands offer them a personalized experience, and 91% of consumers are more likely to shop with brands who recognize, remember, and provide relevant offers and recommendations.
The Nike by Melrose store in LA gives its customers a local flavor by using data gathered by its customers in the neighborhood (buying patterns, app usage and engagement) to adapt its offering.
As a result, new apparel, footwear and accessories are specific to the needs of its local customers regardless of the brand’s broader seasonal priorities. The store is filled with new products on a bi-weekly basis and sometimes even exclusive products – which is a Nike first.
7) Build stronger brand relevance with in-store events
This last one might be a little difficult in today’s current environment, but is worth bearing in mind for future events.
Offering in-store events to your customers is an incredibly valuable way of increasing footfall, improving brand relevance and ensuring ongoing loyalty.
This could include anything from terrarium making workshops to coffee brewing demonstrations, to baby sensory classes, to drag queen bingo nights – all of which the electronics retailer Samsung currently offers at its Samsung KX space.
“Younger consumers are notoriously eager for new experiences – they want to be entertained with engaging workshops, or to pick up new skills,” says Wethered.
“There is a huge opportunity here for brands to share their expertise and build valuable relationships with customers.”