How to drive more foot traffic to your store?

  • Joseph Czikk
  • 2019-11-01

Joseph Czikk

We may have once thought Amazon was going to take over the world, but in reality people still prefer the retail shopping experience. Retail isn’t going anywhere for now.

In fact, Canadian store retailers generated sales of $605 billion in 2018, up 2.7% from 2017. That’s a whopping 98 percent of all retail. E-commerce sales generated just 2%.

In the US, the love for brick-and-mortar shopping is even more pronounced. In fact, in-store sales accounted for 91% of all retail sales in the US in 2017.

If the average Joe and Jill are armed with all kinds of technology that can deliver product to their doorstep the next day, how come we still love the in-store buying experience?

For Neil Patel, the in-store shopping experience is incomparable to browsing items on a desktop or mobile screen. The ability to see, touch and try products before purchase remains the biggest motivator for consumers to shop offline.

Also, people just hate paying for shipping.

That being said, there’s still some tried-and-tested methods that can allow retailers to get more foot traffic in their stores. Here’s a few that we like:

1) BOPIS - Buy online, pick up in store

Allowing customers to buy something on your online store and pick it up at your physical store still means revenue generation. As well, it gets the buyer into the store where they can see, touch and potentially buy more. And since they hate paying for shipping, they can simply come to the store for an easy, free pick-up.

According to Oracle consumer research, 77% of respondents use buy online pick up in store (BOPIS) at least once a week.

BOPIS can also be used for new product releases and to generate excitement, where customers can reserve online and pick-up on the release date.

2) Show your local inventory availability information

Even though the customer is shopping online, that doesn’t mean they’re intent on buying online. Patel noted that three out of four consumers are more likely to visit physical stores if they find local information in search results helpful.

First of all, make sure your store locator is running on your website. Let shoppers easily find their local store and make sure to provide all details, like phone numbers, email, and address.

Don’t forget to provide local inventory availability information for each item and each local store.

Ikea already does this quite successfully for customers who want to buy in bulk. On Ikea’s website, you can see local availability in store for the product you want to buy. It’s an added touch that’s worth offering your customer base. 

3) Offer in-store exchanges and returns

Online shoppers need to return a heck of a lot more product than in-store shoppers for obvious reasons. They can’t see and touch the product. Figures in the US point to 30% of all e-commerce purchases being returned versus 8.89% of brick-and-mortar purchases.

To get a step up on online retailers, providing your shoppers with a convenient, hassle-free return policy can actually be great for business.

Look at it this way: A recent study by Invesp Conversion Rate Optimization Company said that nine out of 10 consumers will buy something again if returns are easy and hassle-free.

And 62% of shoppers are more likely to purchase online if there is an option to return items in-store. You’re not just giving them a friendly return policy, but another reason to shop with you.

Also, the stats show that people want a human to talk to when they return stuff. The 2017 UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper study shows that almost half of consumers would prefer to return items to a brick-and-mortar store. And 49% of them would prefer to work with an in-store associate to process returns.

(Photo credit: NeilPatel.com)

4) Buy in store - walk out hands-free

We just blew your mind, didn’t we. This concept is the opposite of buying online and picking up in store. Instead, allow your customers to shop around in your store, pick out something they like, and have it seamlessly shipped to their doorstep.

“It’s an entirely new approach to retail, and a few brands have already implemented it,” writes Patel.

“For instance, Bonobos, have opened guideshops” across the US, where you can find the perfect fit and style with the help of a professional guide.” When you’re done shopping, your orders are delivered to your home or work for free.

5) Organize in-store events and workshops

Why not put on product launches, runway shows, shopping festivals and more at your store? After all, customers still view shopping as both an experience and even entertainment. People-watching is usually enough entertainment for me, but you get the picture.

Patel says that having the right atmosphere and mood in your physical store can work wonders. According to that 2017 Mood Media study, music is a crucial element for a great in-store shopping experience. Almost 80% of people agreed that the shopping experience is more enjoyable if a store is playing music.

6) Make the in-store experience better

Sure, people still like shopping in a store. But what they don’t really like is waiting in line. That’s right: waiting in line was the number one in-store frustration for 60% of shoppers around the world in 2017.

Patel suggests leveraging the advantages of having (more) mobile POS devices to cut the lines at cash registers and accept card payments on the spot.


7) Amenities: Free wifi and charging stations

Everything costs money and this includes equipping your store with free wifi. And sure, you might have people hanging out in the store solely for the free wifi.

But logically speaking, the reward leveraged from attracting people to your store and offering another good reason for shoppers to stay in your store, outweighs the risk.

After all, 62% of businesses reported that customers spend more time in-store after they introduced free Wi-Fi.

Charger stations also keep folks in your store for long periods of time. They’re pretty much aimlessly waiting, so they’re bound to see product that could interest them. Clever product placement around the charging station will also be crucial here. Look into companies that sell mobile charging stations tailored to retailers, such as KwikBoost or ChargeTech.

8) Ads, ads, ads

Advertising is still huge for your business. The more ad exposure, the better. Patel writes that on average shoppers search and purchase via multiple channels almost 40% of the time. The majority of these shoppers go to a search engine to start their research.

Digital advertising is a big part of your marketing strategy, and you want to make sure you utilize it with maximum ROI.

Some clever new startups are coming up with intelligent algorithms that allow them to plug your product catalog into their system. This can generate thousands and even millions of ads on the web that can drive search engine optimization of your website. The result is ads that show the stock availability of an item at your local store along with the typical product information that shows up in a regular Google shopping ad.

When you click on the ad, it will take you to a digital storefront with your local store information, including stock availability, address, phone number, email, and hours.

One of those startups is Bilinks.com.

About This Author - Joseph Czikk

Joseph Czikk is a Canadian freelance journalist. His work includes topics like business, tech and personal finance. He has been published across outlets such as the National Post, Financial Post, Montreal Gazette, Vancouver Sun, VICE Canada, Ottawa Business Journal and more.

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