If you’re opening a retail business with a physical storefront, you’ll likely need to consider foot traffic as part of your marketing strategy. Foot traffic requires you to attract people off the street, a way of persuading people on impulse rather than merely selling items they need. So how exactly are you supposed to attract this incoming traffic?
Strategies for More Foot Traffic
The best strategies are going to vary based on industry. What works for a restaurant, for example, might not work for a clothing retailer. Still, these generalized strategies should work well for most businesses looking to gain more foot traffic:
- Positioning. If you already have a small business established, you may not have much wiggle room when it comes to choosing your location. However, if you’re starting a business from scratch, this should be your top priority. Some areas of your city are going to be more naturally walkable than others, and some are going to be featured in places with higher visibility and accessibility; for example, a corner store position will be more visible to more people than a store in the middle of a block, and a store with a vibrant sidewalk will draw more foot traffic than a store with few external features.
- Visibility. People are only going to come into your business if they know it’s there to begin with. If they can’t see it, or if their eyes aren’t drawn to it, you won’t have much luck getting people into your store. There are many ways to improve the visibility of your storefront, and most of them involve adding new features or improving the quality of the exterior. For example, you might install a colorful new awning to improve the aesthetics of your exterior while also providing shelter from weather conditions to passersby. Power washing the exterior and/or painting it a new color can help as well.
- Functional features. You can also encourage new foot traffic by installing more functional features for the exterior of your store; basically, this means including exterior additions that your customers can interact with. This will attract more people to engage with the outside of your store, and the more people you congregate outside, the more attractive the store is going to look. For example, you could install patio tables, chairs, or benches for people to use during good weather, or even have sidewalk-occupying games or exhibitions that people can play with.
- Displays. If your storefront has open windows that are visible to the sidewalk or road, make sure you take advantage of them. These are your opportunities to catch new attention and show off some of the best items your business has to offer. Highlight some of your best sellers, or the items that seem to attract the most interest and conversation, and make sure they’re arranged in an attractive way. Bright colors can help as well. Even more importantly, take the time to swap out your display for a new one on a regular basis; otherwise, people may get used to the scene in the background.
- Staff behavior. People sometimes look inside stores to see what they’re like on the interior, so make sure to train your staff to provide a good first impression. If your employees look bored or cold, standing around doing nothing, people won’t want to come in. If they seem alert and attentive, or if they’re busy arranging things, the environment will look more lively and inviting.
- Online listings. You can also get more foot traffic by advertising and marketing your business online. One of the best things you can do is establish your business’s local listing in Google, so it shows up for local searches and on Google Maps; since many people rely on mobile searches to find stores in their area, this can help introduce your store to many more in-person shoppers.
- In-store exclusives. If you have a website, but you’re looking to get more in-store traffic, consider marketing in-store exclusives. These could be products that are only available in-store, or special promotions that only apply to your retail location, such as a discount to your entire order.
Retaining Foot Traffic
Of course, attracting initial foot traffic is just half the equation. You also need to think about how you’re going to keep those customers longer, or encourage them to purchase more. For example, you could arrange the aisles of your store to guide customers to your best, most profitable items, or offer in-store amenities that keep people wanting to stick around. Using POP displays is another good tactic to retain customers and increase sales. This will increase the likelihood of a purchase and simultaneously make your store seem more popular from the outside. In any case, more foot traffic will help your business succeed.