Reviewed for 2018
Increasing footfall is a key part of any retail business’s expansion plan. Growth in footfall is vital if you are to achieve your long-term goals, and maximise your profits.
But getting people through the door can be a tricky proposition. In such a competitive retail environment, how can you encourage punters to choose your business?
Competition on the High Street is fierce. Indeed, in the current climate retailers are battling for every last customer. So, it is vital that you make your premises as attractive as possible.
You can often see big increases in footfall by making very marginal changes. Something as simple as leaving the front door of your shop open can help to make you seem more approachable, and encourage customers to enter.
You should also make sure that any window displays are as smart as they can be, and in keeping with the season. Make sure that you change displays every few weeks, and that seasonal items are removed as soon as they are no longer relevant. If you have a Christmas display up in February, there is something wrong.
It is common for retailers to presume that they are necessarily in competition with every other business in their area. This may not be the case. Instead, you might well be able to benefit from partnerships with other local businesses.
Think about ways that you can build relationships with customers of other, related businesses in your area. For example, if you sell musical instruments, consider asking your local record shop if you can put some leaflets by their point of sale – and offer to do the same in return. This customer cross-over can be mutually beneficial, and will help to increase awareness of your business in the area.
Many retailers presume that they are limited by the four walls of their premises – but there is nothing to stop you heading out onto the street in search of customers. If your products are easy to demonstrate, think about offering samples or examples to passers-by. This is particularly useful (and easy) for retailers offering food or drink – just think about how popular free coffee samples are outside major chains.
Meeting customers on the street can be a great way of enticing them into your shop, and building brand awareness at the same time.
Loyalty schemes are a great way of increasing footfall amongst existing customers. Repeat customers are the bedrock of any successful business, so you should consider ways that you can encourage customer loyalty.
You can increase repeat business by offering discounts or incentives to returning customers. For example, you might choose to offer a discount on a customer’s fifth or tenth purchase. Schemes of this sort are particularly useful for businesses that have direct competitors in the area, as they help to differentiate your firm.
Of course, it is no good increasing footfall if you are not entirely confident about the products or services you are offering. It doesn’t matter how many customers you get through the door – if they don’t find what they want, they won’t come back.
You should therefore make sure that you are entirely happy with the products or services on offer in your shop. If you are unsure, consider making a visit to a competitor to see what they are offering. Some quick research of this kind can significantly improve your sales rates.
Finally, it is important that potential customers know who you are, and where to find you. In order to achieve this you need to make sure that your marketing efforts are as comprehensive and as targeted as possible.
If the majority of your business is conducted through bricks-and-mortar premises, consider ways that you can target your marketing to the local community. This might be through direct mail, adverts in local papers, or geo-targeted online marketing. Read our Marketing section for the latest tips.
Increasing awareness of your retail business is key to increasing footfall – and yet it is often overlooked by business owners.
Do you have any tips for increasing footfall in a retail business? Are you a retailer who has learned from experience? If so, share your recommendations in the comments section below!
23 February 2010 • 4-minute read
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