How To Increase Foot Traffic In Your Retail Store In A Pandemic

We show you ways to increase foot traffic, even in difficult times. But with consumer habits permanently changing, it’s vital retailers go omnichannel to future-proof their business.
0
min read
Aaron Blackman
,
CEO & Founder
,
Retail Express
April 20, 2022
Aaron Blackman
,
CEO & Founder
,
Retail Express
April 20, 2022

Table of contents

Attracting a never-ending stream of foot traffic in your retail store has always been a retailer's dream. But with Covid turning our worlds upside down, some of those dreams threatened to morph into nightmares. 

Luckily though, change has bred innovation — and silver linings with it. So yes, it is still possible to increase foot traffic in your retail store. But now, you have to go about it differently.

In this article, we'll first give you 4 actionable tips to increase your foot traffic or walk-ins right now. We understand that for many retailers, you need to move quickly. 

Next, we'll explain why today’s once-in-a-lifetime retail changes make it necessary for you to change, too. 

There’s no escaping the fact that retailers must embrace omnichannel POS software to win in today's hypercompetitive retail space. And you must act now. 

But more on that later.

"(Retailers will have to) give people a reason to visit that is so compelling, it justifies their exposure to health risks and overcomes the inertia of the behaviors (sic) they adopted during the shutdown."

 – Harvard Business Review

Quick gains: how to get more retail foot traffic right now

Before we start, let's be clear on the definition of foot traffic so we're all on the same page.

Foot traffic - definition: Retail store foot traffic means the number of people that enter your physical store. And it's easy to see why increasing this number is always a good thing. The more foot traffic, the more likely you are to increase new customers, increase sales and improve branding.

So, how is this measurement done?

Measuring foot traffic – You can measure foot traffic data in various ways. There are basic traffic counters and mobile traffic sensors. Then there are more sophisticated tools using Wi-Fi, thermal sensors or GPS tools. These tools give you insightful data on demographics, behaviour and time in-store (dwell time).

Your shop location can massively impact your foot traffic. Don't just go for the lowest priced rent if you're considering more store locations. Thoroughly research the neighbourhood shops and demographics to ensure you'll get the foot traffic you need. Opening a pop-up shop can also be a clever way of testing foot traffic before you commit to a long-term lease. Plus, you'll get to see which products work in that location.

Now, here's what you will need to do to get more foot traffic in your retail stores now.

Develop relationships & offer better customer service

Developing a relationship with physical customers remains one of the most critical retail activities. Human interaction is unbeatable. When customers are physically in-store, you can do magic that you just can't replicate online. You can smooth and improve your customer relationships, creatively tailor the sales experience to satisfy your customers — and upsell. And as walk-in customers spend more per visit than their online or click and collect counterparts, sales staff must go all out to increase that basket size. 

There may be fewer in-store visitors right now, so you can’t afford to let them disappear like sand through a sieve. Check that you have covered the following: 

  • Train your staff – to improve the customers' in-store experience service and sales techniques. Make sure they thoroughly understand the features and benefits of your most popular products (and all your specials). Teach them how to upsell.
  • Set protocols – on how to greet and farewell customers, introduce themselves and set guidelines for the level of involvement with each customer.
  • Set sales targets for stores and employees – but keep targets soft. No one wants a pushy sales assistant ready to murder for a sale just to pay her overdue Synergy bills. Creating a modest but attractive incentive may be all that is needed to get your staff pulling in those extra sales.

Think the above is basic bananas? Good. Because today you need to go further. According to Harvard Business Review, "(Retailers will have to) give people a reason to visit that is so compelling, it justifies their exposure to health risks and overcomes the inertia of the behaviours (sic) they adopted during the shutdown." 

Try thinking outside the square with the following:

  • Think of sales staff as personal shoppers or consultants - Offering more personal connections to customers is a winning move for enhancing the retail experience. Assigning sales staff as personal shoppers or consultants is a far cry from "give us a shout if you need anything". Giving one-to-one advice and care provide customers with the personalisation they crave.
  • Offer appointment shopping - This takes the above point one step further. A trend taking off fast, omnichannel retailers can elevate the consumer experience via in-store shopping appointments. Providing you have an omnichannel POS software system, it's a brilliant way to offer a personalised shopping experience. You can also keep your store Covid-safe by not overcrowding your store while assuring yourself that you will have customers throughout the day. The sales assistant can access the POS to arm themselves with the customer’s shopping history to provide recommendations. Appointments are also great to help control foot traffic numbers in your store.  (Hint: Advertising appointment shopping on your website and via email are an excellent way to promote this feature. More on this below.)
  • Hire technical experts - Educate your customers so they get more from the product and are likely to buy more.

Make customers feel (very) Covid-safe 

Make it loud and clear that you are doing everything possible to keep customers safe. 

TIP: If you’re not confident that you are up-to-date with the latest rules, visit the Australian Government’s business information page, Keep you and your employees safe during Covid-19. This page is packed with information and resources on health and safety, vaccinations, infection control, updated state and territory work safety requirements and more. 

Staff communication – Keep abreast of the latest Covid rules for retailers and regularly email your staff to ensure they keep up with hand hygiene, masks, sanitisation practices, and so on. 

Customer communication - Be abundantly clear on your hygiene messages to all customers. Clarify the hygiene protocols they must follow to enter the store. Repeat this messaging on signage in and outside the store, on your website, on social media and in all email messaging.

Create unique & compelling in-store customer experiences 

Heightened competition means brick and mortar stores must heighten their efforts to create memorable customer experiences. But that's not easy if your shop is complying with in-store headcount restrictions thanks to Covid. Think carefully about ways to keep those footfall numbers constant so you can maximise your allowed foot traffic throughout the day.

Create events 

Give people real-life experiences that can't be matched online. Advertise 'limited number' VIP events, promotions or product launches. Invite guest speakers on a relevant niche industry to talk, but only make it by appointment/RSVP. Exclusivity is attractive, and encouraging customers to commit will increase the chance of showing up. Stage several events at different times of the day or night to keep customers flowing and your store safe.

REMEMBER: Now more than ever, humans like inclusion and connection. Most of us want to feel that we’re part of a family or club. Covid has isolated people for a long time, and we’re craving a sense of community.

Support a charitable event  

Local retail stores offer an excellent opportunity for connection and community — both of which matter to consumers right now. Think of hosting community events such as fundraisers to create awareness for local or environmental issues, for example. 

According to KPMG’s Australian Retail Outlook 2021, Covid has “provided a momentous catalyst for consumers to embrace social and environmental causes, seeking products and brands that align with their values.”

Pick activities that align with your brand and focus on a sense of purpose, belonging and brand affinity – not just boosting your bottom line.

Offer classes and workshops 

If you have a cookware shop, invite a guest chef or offer cooking classes. Sell yoga wear? Offer free yoga classes. Think of ways you can help the customers use your products (through workshops or classes) to use your products more, in more ways and deepen their interest in the product. But again, market the event as ‘by appointment’/’RSVP only’ to increase exclusivity and keep control of numbers.

Offer services

If you have a homeware store, perhaps offer knife sharpening services. Have a bike shop? Offer cheap tyre repairs — or a free safety check. Sell spectacles? Offer free cleans. Who knows what may happen while customers wait 10 minutes for their service to be completed. They may even buy something.

Entice foot traffic into your physical store with terrific savings

Isn't it funny how money always talks? Even better, sometimes it walks — right into your store. Don't overlook these golden oldies – simple, fiscally motivated sales tricks that work.

Special offers

Create a three-day exclusive in-store offer. Naturally, they have to visit in person, and a limited time creates action. And when they come to visit, ensure your staff work their magic and upsell them.

Incentivise bulk purchases

People do love to save. So if they can buy three sets of tea towels for the price of two or five batteries for an extra one free, then you can almost guarantee the outcome.

"Successful retail is no longer about choosing one channel or the other. Today's customers want it all. If you're still working in a silo structure, it's time to combine all data into one streamlined operation."
Integrate all orders & stock with Retail Express POS software

Go omnichannel with more powerful POS software for real traffic gains

This is where the real fun starts. We understand that you came to this page to improve your store foot traffic. But successful retail is no longer about choosing one channel or the other. Today's customers want it all. If you're still working in a silo structure, it's time to combine all data into one streamlined operation. 

Go digital and create an omnichannel strategy with retail POS software and you won't just increase your foot traffic, you'll increase your online traffic too. Then, things can get fancier again. You can encourage your online traffic to become foot traffic, turn your foot traffic to online traffic, and get your online and offline traffic purchasing ahead with Click and Collect and home delivery. 

Yes, it sounds dizzying. And it would be impossible without automation. But Retail Express’ software is entirely possible and beneficial for almost any Australian New Zealand retailer— at an affordable price that is practically guaranteed to give you a return on investment. 

Drive traffic and sound top of today’s competitive retail terrain with powerful cloud-based point of sale software that will streamline your operations across every channel and help you prosper. Book a live demo with one of our retail experts today to find out more.

Bonus section: traffic-building omnichannel features

Once you’re operating in an omnichannel structure, your business will benefit on almost every level. But when it comes to increasing traffic, you can look forward to the following: 

Show live stock availability online

The right retail POS software gives you the option to reveal stock levels on your online store. If customers can see that the product is available at a nearby store, they are more likely to drop by and pick it up. With Retail Express' POS software, you have the option of displaying exact stock levels — or, if you prefer, simply stating whether items are in or out of stock.

If an item is not in stock, your customers can enter their postcode to discover the nearest store they can collect from. Alternatively, they can have their goods delivered to them from the nearest store (Ship from Store).

Read more about omnichannel order management and Ship from Store

Offer Click & Collect

With Click & Collect, you can leverage your online store to drive more foot traffic. Customers can see the goods and purchase online, then pick them up in person — either in-store or from a central location like a warehouse. And if they pick up in-store, they’ll likely buy other items, increasing their basket size. It's an incredibly convenient option that's rapidly growing in popularity with consumers. And for retailers who have integrated their retail channels with POS software, it's easy to set up on your eCommerce website or app.

Run profitable personalised loyalty programs and promotions


Optimise your Loyalty Programme

Loyalty campaigns are an excellent way to develop long-term customer relationships, brand awareness, and increase sales. If you specifically need more in-store traffic, you can market to your existing customers directly (see below), enticing them to come back to the store for more. For example, you could offer bonus loyalty points for in-store purchases. Alternatively, you could offer coupons but only redeemable in-store. Once again, these features are readily available in Retail Express’ loyalty and marketing software.

Run data-led marketing campaigns 

One of the easiest ways to increase foot traffic (and organise personalised shopping appointments) in a retail store is to reach out to your database via email or SMS and entice them.

Using our POS software, you can collect all customer details in-store and online in the one omnichannel database. Better still, our in-store survey feature lets you capture even more information on your customers' preferences.

You can also build dynamic customer groups automatically. Dynamic customer groups are determined by your customers' purchase behaviour — and they're very handy!

With all this valuable data at your disposal, you can more accurately target and personalise your email marketing campaigns.

All these features make it easy to reconnect with your customers and make them come back for more. Best of all, they're not crazy, fancy-schmancy, out-of-reach tech features either. They're all part of our standard POS software that's suitable (and affordable) for almost any Aussie or Kiwi retailer.

With the right software, you can arm yourself with actionable tools to pull in that foot traffic — instead of standing at your store door, crossing your fingers and toes.

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Next steps

Drive traffic and stay on top of today’s competitive retail terrain with powerful cloud-based point of sale software that will streamline all your transactions across every channel and help you prosper. Book a live demo with one of our retail experts today to find out more.

Our Retail Express onboarding and support team have all had professional experience as retailers and know the challenges you face. That's why it's our priority to ensure switching to our cloud-based POS software is easy.

  • Personal Support Manager: You'll have your own Australian-based Personal Success Manager who'll guide you through the process step-by-step. All costs included. They'll help format and import your data, get you up and running, guide you with your hardware and help with everything associated with set-up.
  • 5-Star ongoing support: Once you're set up, the support doesn't stop. We're renowned for our Australian-based customer support. Each of our experts has professional retail experience and knows the issues you face. Forget being palmed off to a help manual — you'll be individually cared for until we fix your problem, every time.
  • Knowledge Base, Training Academy & webinars: You'll have access to a comprehensive Knowledge Base with all instructions, a video library, Training Academy and more.
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References:

Harvard Business Review: the Pandemic Is Rewriting the Rules of Retail

KPMG: Australian Retail Outlook 2021


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