Foot traffic is one of the most important metrics when it comes to successfully running a brick-and-mortar store. More traffic means more sales opportunities, so many businesses want to know how to improve foot traffic.
Now that the peak of the pandemic and stay-at-home orders have receded, consumers are starting to return to in-store shopping.
However, that doesn’t mean it is any easier to get people to your store. Many consumers also got accustomed to the convenience of curbside pickups and delivery apps. As a result, multi-location businesses like franchises, QSRs, and retailers are looking beyond simple advertising strategies to increase store visits and sales.
How To Improve Foot Traffic
Consumers still like to shop through brick-and-mortar stores. But with the constant growth of ecommerce and delivery apps, consumers need more convincing reasons to make the trip.
If you are looking for strategies for how to improve foot traffic, here are 15 ideas.
1. Use Geolocation Data
Geolocation marketing is on an upward trend. According to a survey by Brightlocal, 95% of consumers have used the internet to search for local businesses in the past year alone. In addition, 11% search daily and 53% at least twice a month.
With geolocation data, you can create a complete picture of the consumers’ journey to your store. You can identify patterns in shopping behaviors and refine your audience targeting. Plus, you reach more individuals that are physically nearby, which can signal high purchase intent.
IKEA increased foot traffic to its store by running a geotargeted Facebook ad campaign. The ads targeted users when their mobile devices were nearby an IKEA store.
In an A/B test, IKEA compared a test group of more than 172,000 customers who were served the geotargeted ads to a control group that did not see them. Overall, IKEA saw 11% growth in in-store visits from the test group.
The furniture and decor store also saw a 31% increase in in-store traffic from 22 to 25-year-olds and a 115% rise from 26-to 35-year-olds.
2. Center Around Customer Values and Good Experiences
The customer experience plays a critical role in bringing people back to your store. One study found that 93% of consumers say they will most likely buy from a brand again if their previous experience was excellent.
The customer experience you provide in your store is the bedrock of your success. Tracking foot traffic data can provide valuable insight that helps you know how to optimize staffing, improve customer service and boost your sales.
However, if you want to connect with your consumers and increase foot traffic, you must provide compelling in-store experiences.
The right experience varies from one store to the other. Some retailers such as Ross and TJMaxx thrive on “treasure hunt” experiences that motivate shoppers to discover limited products and deals.
Other brands like Nike create large attractions that immerse prospects in their brand stories. Meanwhile, stores like McDonald’s offer convenience with automated kiosks, so individuals can get in and out as quickly as possible.
After the pandemic, Trader Joe’s effectively recovered from a decline in foot traffic. While other grocery stores like Whole Foods have yet to regain the foot traffic they had pre-pandemic. According to a report that tracked the location data for 15 major brands, Whole Foods’ foot traffic is still under 20% year-over-year.
On the other hand, Trader Joe’s has not only recovered in terms of foot traffic, but the people that visit are spending more in-store. The “mission-driven” mindset of Trader Joe’s is credited with driving store traffic. Employees are trained on how to improve the customer experience. In addition, the chain offers many organic and limited-run products that attract its loyal customer base.
The key is to understand who your ideal customer is by collecting data, conducting research, and developing personas. Then, use that data to create a customer experience for your stores and execute it well.
3. Shop-In-Shop Partnerships
A shop-in-shop partnership is exactly as the name suggests. It’s where a retail store or brand opens its own smaller space within another retailer’s store. This strategy is also known as a concession or store-within-a-store.
While the idea isn’t new, as the traditional department stores are essentially built on it, attention and interest in shop-in-shop partnerships appear to be on the up.
Brands successfully partnering on shop-in-shop include Apple and Target, Kohl’s and Sephora, as well as Next and Homebase.
It’s a way for retailers to keep their stores fresh and always have new things to offer consumers without having to come up with displays or concepts themselves. It can also help large retailers attract more foot traffic and a wider customer base.
Often, there is a certain level of cross-over between the consumer bases of the two shops that are partnering. However, each partner adds something of value to the other. It may be that a brand partner sells products that the host store doesn’t.
The benefits of a brand opening a smaller space inside a larger store are endless. The host store may be located somewhere impractical for the partner to open its store.
For example, Amazon launched the Amazon Counter service, where customers can pick up their orders from other retailers’ brick-and-mortar locations. The hope for the partnering brand is that when customers come to their store to pick up their Amazon orders, they will spend more time inside and purchase other items.
4. Social-Worthy Experiential Retail
As mentioned above, the in-store customer experience is just as valuable as the sale. When consumers buy online more often, you need to offer a solid value proposition as to why they should physically come into your store.
Experiential retail is a marketing approach where physical retail stores offer additional experiences beyond online browsing and buying products. It may also include “Instagrammable” or “TikTok” worthy experiences that entice customers to share videos or photos on social media.
For millennials, immersive, memorable brand experiences hold particular importance as 72% would rather pay for experiences than products.
The strategy uses amenities such as exclusive in-store services, events, well-designed displays, and knowledgeable staff. For example, House of Vans has a gallery, cinema, an artist incubator space, live events, bars, cafes, and even a skatepark.
Even traditionally DTC ecommerce brands have opened retail pop-ups. Glossier has opened physical stores that are designed intentionally with a social media aesthetic. From the lighting to props and decor, the stores are set up for photos.
By investing in experiential retail, you are offering consumers more reasons to visit and spend time in your store. Instead of the in-store experience being simply transactional, it creates additional value for customers.
5. Combine Tiktok With In-Store Data
Tracking the customer journey from digital impressions to in-store visits can be hard for even the savviest advertiser.
To solve these challenges, TikTok and Foursquare collaborated to make the measurement of store visits easier. Advertisers across the US and Canada can use TikTok’s integration with Foursquare Attribution.
Foursquare’s measurement product aims to track the customer journey from online to offline. It’s an effort to measure the effectiveness of marketing campaigns at increasing in-store visits.
With Foursquare, TikTok combines its app data with location data. In particular, it measures the incremental lift that TikTok ad campaigns have on in-store visits.
It’s a smart move for the video-sharing app. More businesses are flocking to TikTok for their social media advertising. In 2021, TikTok generated $4.6 billion in ad revenue, a 142% increase year-over-year.
6. Sponsor Local Influencers
Influencer marketing isn’t only for online merchants looking to get more views and product reviews on social media.
There is a direct correlation between localized marketing strategy and in-store foot traffic as well as sales. The use of local influencers for hyperlocal marketing is still an effective strategy. For example, Caudalie, a skincare company, leveraged this strategy by inviting a micro-influencer to one of its locations. Brands like Abercrombie and Nordstrom have partnered with influencers to create influencer-curated collections, local events, and other promotions.
You can leverage the power of local influencers by inviting them to one of your store locations.
To find local influencers, you can start off with hashtag research. Compile a list of local hashtags that are relevant to your business. For example, if you have locations in Chicago, you might start off with broad tags like #chicagofood or #chicagoblogger, then narrow it down. Identify users that might be a good fit and get their contact details.
You can also work with an influencer marketing platform. Some of these act as directories for influencers. Others are agencies that identify influencers that are a good fit and may manage most of the campaigns for you (at a higher cost).
Examples of influencer platforms include:
Make sure to ask influencers about their audience demographics and engagement. What experience do they have partnering with businesses? How many clicks, follows, and conversions did they drive in previous campaigns?
Once you’ve arranged to work with specific influencers, set up a time to show them around your store. Offer them service, product samples, or a paid sponsorship in exchange for sharing your business with their audiences.
7. Tap Into Existing Fan Bases
In addition to local influencers, many brands are partnering with artists and celebrities that have large fan bases.
By partnering with them, brands are getting access to loyal fan bases, and increasing foot traffic as a result. For example, Popeyes’ foot traffic increased 9% when rapper Megan Thee Stallion’s name was included on a special sauce.
McDonald’s biggest growth in foot traffic in 2021 coincided with the Travis Scott meal debut. According to the company, “that month was the best for same-store sales in almost a decade.”
These partnerships have proven that consumers are willing to venture out to support the celebrities and influencers they follow. It also taps into the fear of missing out. They don’t want to miss the chance to grab a limited deal or product.
8. Buy Online, Pick-Up In Store
Buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS), also called click-and-collect, is a hybrid digital model that enables consumers to order an item online and pick it up physically at the store. It combines the convenience of online shopping and the efficiency of delivering the product on the same day.
Allowing shoppers to retrieve their online parcels from retail locations has become a vital delivery option and an essential part of retailers’ omnichannel strategies. BOPIS boomed during the pandemic. It forced many to adopt it, and it isn’t going away any time soon.
It is also helpful for buyers who worry about the security of their items if they aren’t home when they are delivered. Executing a cross-sell approach by including in-store coupons with ecommerce purchases is an excellent way to increase in-store traffic.
Here are some other statistics that show how popular BOPIS has become, and why you should consider it as a top strategy for how to improve foot traffic.
- US consumers spent $72.5 billion via click-and-collect shopping options in 2020, which is 9.1% of total ecommerce sales.
- The BOPIS market is forecasted to reach over $140 billion by 2024.
- Over 56% have used click-and-collect fulfillment services six or more times in the past 12 months, with 8.2% using it more than 20 times.
- 24.5% of consumers say that as long as click-and-collect services remain efficient, they prefer to shop local (assuming item offerings are competitive with big online retailers like Amazon).
- 69% of shoppers who use click-and-collect made additional purchases during their trip to the store.
While most retailers offer BOPIS services, some multichannel retailers, including Walmart, Target, The Home Depot, and Best Buy, made up 64% of BOPIS sales in the US in 2020, reaping over $46 billion in click-and-collect sales.
9. Host Classes or Workshops
In-store classes are an effective way to attract visitors and build robust customer relationships. Find an engaging and relevant topic to your brand niche and offer free learning sessions, including workshops.
Total Wine & More, on the other hand, offers regular classes on different types of beverages.
These retailers are in tune with their customer base and have considered everything a consumer wants to learn.
Sephora, for instance, has given makeup classes for customers who identify as transgender and non-binary.
It is also an approach that works well with younger consumers such as those who visit Nike for Nike Rise, which enables customers to book exclusive fitness classes, events, and product customization services.
10. Add The Option To Order From Self-Service Kiosks
Most retail stores either have self-service kiosks or plan to implement them in the future, according to a study by Restaurant Friction Index in collaboration with Paytronix. The study found that 30% of restaurants use self-service kiosks while 34% do not yet use them but plan to invest in the future.
Shake Shack, for example, introduced more automated ordering options by installing self-service kiosks in select restaurants. The result was that more than 75% of sales in those stores came from kiosks and digital channels.
11. Loyalty Program
In a competitive retail landscape, brand loyalty has become more challenging to acquire. It takes 37% of shoppers at least five purchases before they consider themselves loyal to a brand.
Getting new customers into your retail store is exciting, but don’t forget your existing ones. When it comes to how to improve foot traffic, you should also look at how to get your existing customers to return.
Nurture your relationships with customers who’ve purchased from your store in the past to increase repeat visits. You stay top of mind by offering loyalty rewards and customer-exclusive offers.
More than 70% of consumers will be more likely to recommend a brand with a good loyalty program. Additionally, emotionally engaged consumers are 71% more likely to recommend a brand than the average 45% rate.
Within the last few years, many QSRs and retailers have invested in loyalty programs that are accessed through their mobile apps. This method has been highly successful for chains like Starbucks and Panera, to name a few.
According to TechCrunch, orders from its mobile app, as well as delivery and drive-through made up 72% of Starbucks’ U.S. revenue for its fiscal Q3. In addition, it’s estimated that the Starbucks Rewards loyalty program has over 21.8 million active users.
Another effective way to encourage repeat customers is to provide shoppers with an offer they can redeem on their next visit. For example, Target gives out $5 and $10 gift cards to those who spend a certain amount on select products. The gift cards can only be activated after the checkout process meaning customers can redeem them on future purchases.
12. Host a Freebie Holiday
Many brands have generated buzz for their businesses that might not have otherwise existed by creating holidays like National Doughnut Day. Top brands have used this day to drive high-profile awareness and traffic.
Other retailers and multi-location businesses are replicating the tactic by creating relevant annual holidays. They usually drum up interest by offering a free item. In this case, a doughnut.
Convenience store 7-Eleven drove a 51% increase in foot traffic by leveraging a free Slurpee holiday, offering free Slurpees to all customers on July 11.
Research shows that Slurpee sales increased on Free Slurpee Day up to 38%, even when the convenience chain gave away 4.5 million drinks for free. The market share also grew 36% in the Dallas area during the event.
Dunkin’ also experienced its highest number of visits on National Doughnut Day. Compared to the average from the year before, that resulted in a growth of 59.3% and 68.7%, respectively.
There are strong correlations between free holiday campaigns and continued visits. Dunkin’ visits in New York reached impressive peaks following National Doughnut Day. The following Saturdays were 184.5% and 199% above the baseline average, respectively.
The freebie holiday concept is not limited to pastry, nor does it need to be an existing “holiday.” Starbucks used a December Happy Hour to drive store traffic and customer loyalty program sign-ups.
The event drove more than 245,000 visitors in New York alone, making it the third best day for in-store foot traffic between 2017 and 2019 in the state.
It may seem antithetical to give away something for free to increase foot traffic and sales, but the data shows it works. There is value in understanding how to bring people to stores with freebie holidays.
13. Offer In-Store Only Promotions
On all your digital platforms as well as in-store, promote offers and deals that can only be redeemed in-store. Black Friday is the most obvious example of in-store promotions. Although, in recent years, many retailers began offering more online due to the pandemic.
If you’re trying to learn how to improve foot traffic, test out offering an in-store-only promotion.
However, the deal that you promote has to be appealing enough to your customers to get them to visit. Two types of in-store only promotions that work well are:
- Limited runs or seasonal deals (pumpkin spice in the fall)
- BOGO – buy one, get one free
Bath and Body Works has maintained strong in-store sales, by combining the two. The brand known for its scented lotions, perfumes, and candles, maintained strong sales by highlighting BOGO deals over 50% off discounts because they performed better.
In-store-only promotions are a great way to use your brand’s digital channels to drive foot traffic.
14. Mobile Apps and SMS
According to a study from Deloitte Insights, 56% of every dollar spent in a physical store is influenced by digital interaction, many of which happen on mobile. This means retailers stand to lose valuable sales if they don’t adapt to evolving customer preferences.
Mobile app marketing is a great way to drive both online sales and effectively complement your brand’s offline store experience. One recent study found that 57% of consumers prefer to shop and interact with brands through mobile apps more than any other channel.
While some shoppers enjoy communicating with sales reps, others would rather avoid the process. A recent study shows that 77% of consumers consult their phones for item information while they shop in retail stores.
Shoppers also turn to their mobiles for product prices, availability, and customer reviews. With these statistics, a mobile app seems like a no-brainer strategy to improve foot traffic as well as conversions.
Mobile apps are also ideal for loyalty programs. Because, not only do loyalty programs create repeat customers, but they are an invaluable source of first-party data.
With mobile app usage and insights, brands can engage customers and boost loyalty by sending marketing messages to shoppers at the right moments. For example, you could prompt prospects with promotional messages meant to attract in-store visits and purchases. You can also add urgency and encourage action by promoting a limited-time offer.
The key to success is to make messages relevant and timely. Segment your mobile app audiences and send targeted offers based on their behavior in your app or their previous purchase history.
15. Create a System to Measure Online and Offline Traffic
In order to improve foot traffic, you need to have a complete understanding of what is driving traffic to your store in the first place.
Measuring and analyzing online and offline traffic is crucial to tracking performance. Tracking the customer journey might seem easier for ecommerce brands that live only online. Although, attribution, understanding which and how much each channel and ad campaign contributes to conversions, is a challenge for many businesses.
Brick-and-mortar businesses must also track offline data like point-of-sale information and combine it with online data from their digital marketing, website, CRM, and other sources.
When you have visibility into both online and offline customer data, you get a full picture of your brand’s performance and reach. You can optimize your marketing spend by identifying what contributes the most to your bottom line and eliminating campaigns that aren’t delivering results. Then, reinvest to increase sales even further.
Retailers often ask how to improve foot traffic to their physical stores. When you are looking for ways to convince digital-age shoppers to visit your store, you have to go the extra mile.
At Goodway, we’ve helped many national multi-location businesses connect with customers online and offline. If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you market your business, schedule a chat with our team.