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How do I get more customers in the door? If you own a brick-and-mortar store, that’s likely a question you ask yourself pretty often. And you’ve probably tried a few things to grow that foot traffic.
You might also be a little worried about how consumer behavior is changing. People are shopping more online. But never fear, studies show that people still like to go shop in stores, for a variety of reasons (to see a product firsthand, experience, etc.). So you just need to give them a good reason to do it.
Now there are any number of ways to do this. It might help to group your tactics into two groups: direct traffic drivers and indirect traffic drivers. A direct method targets a specific group or offers a specific value for customers to come through your door (think promotions, loyalty programs, and events). An indirect tactic is a bit more subtle as it relies on a customer to discover your business.
We’ve put together a list of ideas that pulls from both groups:
Verify your business on search platforms
To drive people to your store indirectly, utilize the power of search and pinpoint your business location on Google. Start by verifying your location through Google My Business, which helps make sure you’re showing up in the right place on Google Maps.
Verified businesses appear whenever someone Googles the name of your business or your type of retail in your area. This listing includes your business info and location on Google Maps, and can feature photos and customer reviews. You can also register your business on review sites like Yelp.
These business listings are an important part of how customers perceive your business, so it’s crucial to keep them maintained.
Let customers charge up
Take a cue from retail giants like Neiman Marcus and Uniqlo and offer phone charging stations and free Wi-Fi inside your space, and advertise about these perks outside. People who are in desperate need of more phone battery will browse and potentially buy more while their phones are charging.
When it comes to offering free Wi-Fi, consider asking anyone in the store to provide their email address to get access. This can help build your marketing email list — just make sure they agree to being put on your list before you email them.
Offer a quick drink
Another fun way to indirectly drive foot traffic is to hydrate your customers and their pets. Shoppers get thirsty walking around, so offering free water can help drive traffic to your store. If your store sells outdoor products and has a place to refill reusable water bottles, it makes a good impression on your customers.
Offer pets a few water bowls near the entrance of your store, and have doggie bags so you can easily clean up any accidents.
Improve curb appeal
Grab the attention of passersby with an extravagant window display or a chalkboard sign with a witty message to get people Instagram-ing about you. Offering something people can use, such as bike racks, can also help drive traffic.
Everyone loves a deal. Consider offering in-store-only promotions to encourage foot traffic. Utilize store signage, social media, and email blasts to ensure your customers know there’s something big happening in your store.
You can partner with social media influencers who have targeted audiences to feature your products. These are “sponsored posts,” in which the influencer wears or features your product, writes a small endorsement, or reviews your brand and creates awareness. You could have them mention your brick-and-mortar location and any in-store promotions you might be running, or just have them simply tag your business’s profile.
Encourage gift card purchases
When a current customer purchases a gift card, they’re encouraging a new customer to come in and make a purchase at your store. Or maybe the person receiving the gift is a big fan of your business and asked for a gift card from someone who’s never stepped foot in your store.
(An added bonus: When people enter a store with a gift card, they tend to spend more than the amount on the gift card.)
Host an event
Consider partnering with other businesses looking for retail space. Vinyl, Me Please, a vinyl record subscription company, hosts a monthly, nationwide listening party for its subscribers. Sometimes it partners with a bar that serves an official cocktail for the listening party while records are sold in the shop. This creates a fun activity for customers to come to a store, and it promotes two brands.
Don’t forget the power of loyalty
Loyalty programs also keep customers coming back for more. Offer a free gift with a purchase, a special prize when a customer spends a certain amount, or a discount when customers purchase a certain amount or a certain number of times. You could even offer bonus points for customers who visit the physical store location.
Let customers pick up or return online purchases in your store
It may seem counterintuitive, but you can use your online store to drive consumers to your brick-and-mortar store. And those customers are actually more valuable; a Harvard Business Review study found that consumers who did online research spent 13% more when they shopped in store.
One way to do this is to offer services like buy online, pick up in store (BOPIS) and buy online, return in store (BORIS). In both cases, purchases are made online and then either retrieved or returned in a brick-and-mortar store, where you can then engage customers in person.
Pay attention to the customer experience
When consumers are looking for a new business, 46 percent trust the reviews of other customers more than reviews by professionals. And people share reviews in all sorts of ways — when they talk to each other, over social media, through review sites, etc.
All this to say that every time a new customer walks through the door, you have the opportunity to create a new fan who drives more people to your store. So you need to think about their entire experience and how you impress them enough to get that positive review.