How to Drive In-store Traffic: 20 Experts Share Their Retail Strategies

In this previous post, I had discussed how retailers could use technology to lure shoppers back to retail stores. Nowadays consumers are more inclined to use the Internet and Social Media to gather information before they make a purchase. Although shoppers may come into stores to try on a product, they often tend to use the store as a “showroom”, checking out products in-store before they purchase it from an online retailer for a cheaper price. Online retailers like Amazon offer customer reviews, product information and product comparisons to consumers within a matter of minutes. So how can retailers compete with this high-level of information sharing and attract customers back to their stores?

A potential strategy to combat this involves adopting new technology. Adopting new technology allows retailers to empower employees and customers with information, while also leveraging it to transform the shopping experience so that it is easy and fun. Retailers can equip stores with mobile POS devices that speed up the check out process, use a customer’s purchase history to suggest products and also target customers with a smart coupon system. However, this strategy can be a challenge for many retailers to adopt and is often times too expensive.

We asked experts to share alternative retail strategies that help generate more engagement with shoppers and drive in-store traffic. A common theme that was evident in these strategies was the use of data to drive business decisions. Some of the experts suggested that retailers should gather consumer data to predict purchase patterns and deliver relevant content. Others suggested targeting existing Social followers with content that increases in-store purchases.

Below is a list of retail strategies that can improve in-store traffic:

Retail Strategies that Drive In-Store Traffic

How to Drive In store Traffic: 20 Experts Share Their Retail Strategies image Offline Shopping Infographic 164x600How to Drive In store Traffic: 20 Experts Share Their Retail Stra …

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1.  Ryan Stevens, Co-Founder & CEO of Trace (TraceApp.com) – @RyanStevensNU

Try and highlight positive experiences that your current customers are having on social media. Take candid shots of your customers shopping in your store and post them on your social media pages. This will highlight the positive experience of in-store shopping compared to online shopping. Businesses benefit a great deal when they can echo meaningful real life interactions in their stores on social media.

Encourage your customers to share their positive experiences at your store on Facebook, Twitter, or Trace. This will create a positive buzz about your store/business amongst your customers’ social graphs.

2.  John Z Wetmore, Producer of ‘Perils For Pedestrians’ Television – @jzwetmore

Have attractive window displays to catch the interest of pedestrians passing by. If you are fortunate enough to have a storefront facing a sidewalk with pedestrian traffic, give them something to look at that shows them what you have to offer. And if your old display is coated in dust and faded from sunlight, it’s time to rejuvenate the display and your image.

If your windows are blanked out, you are missing out on the one set of people who at this moment while they are passing by would find your store more convenient than the Internet.

3.  Mary A. Alonso, Principal at Strategic Brand Directions – @maryaalonso

Create exciting window displays:

Displays that visually capture the attention of passersby should stop people and compel them to come into your store. The most popular words, “SALE” and “50% OFF”, are usually a draw but cut into profit margins. On the other hand, an interactive or physically moving display can focus on full price product and appeal to your target customer. Where it makes sense, use bright colors and unique product stories.

4.  Jon Rhodes, Owner of HypnoBusters – @JonRhodesUK

A great way to drive traffic to your retail site is to provide some great content. This should be relevant to your niche, and be the type of help a prospective buyer would need. This will help you rank in the search engines plus gain customer trust.

5.  Art Hutchinson, Manager at RIDER09 – @Riderdotcom 

A retailer could copy Amazon’s practice by selling used goods at a much lower price, and the new products at a better than competitive price.

Two for the price of one works well, and with a slightly elevated price

Fact is to compete against Amazon you would have to cut your profits by at least 50% or more.

6.  Annkur Agarwal, CEO of PriceBaba.com – @pricebaba

While shopping is moving online and likes of Amazon are making the most of it, fact remains that most commerce is still offline. Consumers love to use the Internet but physical retailers have poor presence on the Internet. Integrating with price search services like milo.com, eBay Now and Google Shopping is a good way to get online visibility and take traffic away from Amazon!

7.  Joanne Levine, President at Lekas & Levine Public Relations

Retailers can utilize barter to boost traffic.

Savvy retailers are discovering that bartering is a great vehicle for moving excess inventory and attracting new customers, and generating barter dollars that can be used for advertising and other business expenses. Bartering involves an equal trade. One business swaps a good or service for another. Through professional barter exchanges—where members pay a commission fee for goods or services traded—more complex trades are possible.

Here’s how bartering works: a business lists a good or service for trade through a barter exchange like IMS. In return, the business receives a trade credit based on the dollar value of the good or service offered. It can then use those trade credits to “purchase” goods or services offered by other members. As a result, that business is hooked up with a rich, varied network of actively bartering businesses.

8.  Bob Shirilla, Owner of Simply Bags – @SimplyBags

When a consumer searches online for products and services, a local retailer can place a very inexpensive ad that is targeted to his geographic location. The local business can limit the radius of 1, 5, or 10 miles from their location. In many cases these ads cost less than 25 cents.

9.  Jill Sherman, CEO & Co-Founder of Modalyst – @modalyst

At Modalyst, we help retailers compete with large online retailers such as Amazon, as well as offline fast-fashion retailers such as Zara and H&M. Modalyst enables boutiques to access cool, hard-to-reach, up-and-coming brands from all over the world, and enables stores to buy with lower minimums, while receiving the same bulk order discount as an Amazon or department store.

By buying smaller amounts of inventory per item, customers need to purchase at full-price, or they may lose the opportunity to buy the item. Stores are able to replenish their stock continuously, allowing for fresh inventory year-round, instead of seasonally. More cool designers at better wholesale prices and more continuously, means more traffic and repeat business for any retailer!

10.  Christopher McCauley, President and CEO of Whizkins – @whizkins

Compete using customer experience and quality rather than price.

Simultaneously sell products through a similar distribution channel used by Amazon, i.e. virtual store. Find a local shipper and work out an arrangement with other local retailers to use this shipper collectively to lower shipping rates for the group.

11.  Keith Carpentier, Senior Business Development Manager at Tensator, Inc. – @tensator

Create an in-store experience – from story telling to service excellence. Online retailers offer fast service, styles, sizes, availability etc. but they can’t offer a memorable experience or immediate gratification. Retailers can capitalize on creating an immersion ambiance that appeals to all senses, today’s mobile savvy culture and values the customer’s time. Offering entertainment, next-gen digital signage/interactivity, in-queue merchandising and sleek, elegant queue management will go a long way in bringing in customers and retaining them.

12.  Peter Vogel, CEO and Co-Founder of Plink – @plinkdotcom

Plink acts as a bridge for brands like Burger King, Gap, Sears and many others to connect with consumers online, drive them to make purchases in their offline locations, track them via the member’s registered credit/debit card and then give them rewards for their purchase. Brands just pay a percentage of sales Plink members make in their stores – 100% performance-based. We’ve taken the traditional online affiliate model and moved it offline.

13.  Sean Grace, Marketing Director at CoupSmart – @CoupSmart

Mobilize the social media fans you already have. Fans are ready to engage with you. They’ve given you permission to market to them. To turn them into customers, motivate them through a social coupon. A coupon offered here can be shared with friends, printed out, and then must be brought into the store to redeem. In doing this, you’re taking an online interaction into the real world to make real revenue.

14.  Joe Cecere, President and Chief Creative Officer of Little – @littleandco

Frontline retail employees are often the under-leveraged face of your brand and core to providing differentiated customer experiences. Yet, a 2013 Gallup study found that only 30% of the U.S. workforce feels engaged at work. Gallup identified “not understanding what the company stands for” as a major contributor to lackluster employee engagement.

Retailers can battle back by creating an Employee Brand to reinforce core brand messages through compelling communications. Employee Branding turns employees into brand ambassadors – passionate, living, breathing reasons to
visit a store in-person instead of just buying online.

15.  Devora Rogers, Senior Director at Retail Marketing Insights – @devorarogers 

To compete with online retailers, physical retailers must:

- Effectively leverage shopper data to understand, predict, and note changes in, purchase behavior

- Deliver meaningful content – based on that data – to shoppers during the decision journey, i.e. offers and information on products they purchase and/or are likely to purchase

- Make product ratings and reviews readily available – both in store and online.

Most of all, physical retailers must stay current with their shoppers and act quickly in response to changes in lifestyle driving changes in shopping behavior.

16.  Dr. Matthew Green, Managing Director for Emnos US

Leverage Existing Data

- Proper data analysis should tie valuable information to customer behaviors – Who are my most loyal customers? What do they love? What brings them back? What influences them to buy more? We all agree this counts; yet these insights and patterns are not always evident on spreadsheets. Retailers can get caught in the hype of big data and lose sight of important context, adding to the risk of making flawed decisions.. Thus, retailers should look to leverage the data they’re capturing in the right way to improve in-store traffic and commercial decision making – it is only through this improved decision making can retailers begin to see a return on their investments and greater interest from consumers.

Focus on Loyal Customers

- We all have different shopping habits. Meaning, retail managers should look to create customer segmentations around their most loyal customers. By viewing data through the lens of the consumer, they are able to understand the key drivers of retail performance. De-listing products due to sales volume, runs the risk of losing your most loyal customers to competitors. These customers might come to your store for this brand, but they also make large purchases of other items, essentially rewarding you for keeping that brand on your shelves.

Commit to Look at Data Differently

- Senior level buy-in is perhaps the biggest challenge most retailers face when attempting to revamp their approach to internal data analysis. While it’s unrealistic to expect a drastic change overnight, the mandate to change must come from senior leaders and should be connected to a process to train the team. Look to demonstrate quick wins and value adds to encourage this new direction, while focusing on the metrics that really count. Set goals and timelines for specific decisions that will demonstrate the effectiveness of this new process.

17.  Jonathan Treiber, CEO of RevTrax – @RevTrax

Strategy: It may sound contradictory, but use digital media to drive in-store sales. Include print-at-home and mobile coupons across owned and paid media channels to boost foot traffic and increase in-store sales. Coupons and promotions help equalize in-store prices and drive increased spending in-store. Collecting path-to-purchase consumer insights through these promotions also helps retailers quantify the ROI for digital marketing campaigns across channels, providing a holistic view of how digital engagement drives in-store revenue.

18.  Jeff Weidauer, VP of Marketing & Strategy at Vestcom International – @Vestcom

Start with data; learn what shoppers are buying. Make suggestive selling based on shopping history part of your DNA, and show your shoppers you know them by offering relevant suggestions. That is the real advantage of online retail. Put experts in your stores, people who know and have a passion for what you’re selling. Finally, play up the instant gratification factor-no waiting for two-day shipping; you can take it home now. 

19.  Eric Newman, VP of Products and Marketing at Digby – @digbymobile

In order for retailers to compete with the 800lb gorilla that is Amazon, they must provide shoppers with a unique in-store experience with tailored-made engagement. Leveraging location-based marketing through a retailer’s branded mobile app allows retailers to drive traffic through relevant, contextual mobile marketing. By sending the right message to the right person at the right place and time, brands can create a unique engagement model that increases store visits and average order value.

20.  Bob Negen, Retail Expert and Owner of WhizBang! Training – @bobnegen

Run fun, crazy and/or creative promotions around one deeply discounted item. The item acts as a “loss leader” and, if the merchant does a great job of making the promotion memorable the one-two punch of fun in-store happening and deep discount will drive TONS of traffic.

Please share any strategies you think are important for retailers to drive in-store traffic, in the comment section below.

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