Boosting in-store footfall: How digital communications can help

Topic: Retail
Photo of lady shopping with face mask on

With a footfall increase of 225% since nonessential stores reopened, it’s clear brick-and-mortar still holds a key position in the retail sector. See how your business can enhance the in-store customer experience.

High street retail has been amongst the hardest-hit sectors during the pandemic. However, following the reopening of non-essential shops in England and Wales early signs of recovery are positive. Data shows a strong uplift with footfall in shopping centres up by an impressive 225%, while on the high streets it grew by 176%

While ecommerce has undoubtedly helped many businesses stay afloat during the pandemic, maximising revenue both on and offline is key. 

So how can retailers capitalise on this immediate surge to in-store footfall and perhaps most importantly, employ tactics which support sustainable, long-term growth?

Use online data to better meet in-store demand

Although a massive 87% of consumers will begin their product search online, 46% of shoppers still prefer to make the actual purchase in-store. The ability to see, touch and feel products as well as take items home immediately, are the most common reasons consumers choose to shop in-store as opposed to online. Therefore, continually reviewing website and ecommerce data, to ensure popular products are both well stocked and presented in-store, can be worthwhile.

Moreover, including details of in-store stock availability, both online and in customer communications, could prove invaluable. For example, if a customer has shown interest in a particular product online or even added this to their shopping basket, but not checked out, a follow up SMS could both remind them of the product and include details of the stores which currently have this item in stock. 

Enhance the in-store experience

There are obvious expenses associated with having a physical premises. Particularly in the current climate, with many businesses having to increase their investment to meet social distancing measures and ensure staff safety. However, there are certain in-store experiences which simply can’t be replicated online and it is these, that businesses should leverage. 

1. In-store services 

Additional services may include personal shoppers or in the case of specialist stores, experts on gait analysis who can advise on the best trainer type, or skin care advisers who can help individuals identify a skincare routine which truly works for them. It’s key that brands ensure these services are widely communicated, and send individuals a WhatsApp to remind them of their appointment, or even a simple mobile journey to collate information which may be required prior to an appointment.

2. The rise of retail-tainment

Particularly as the transactional nature of stores decreases, a ‘trip to the stores’ should be something which entertains customers, despite the challenges of face masks and social distancing. Again, whatever your business introduces to enrich a shoppers in-store experience, be sure that this is widely communicated.  

Digitise customer queues and waiting lines

When IKEA reopened its doors in June 2020, shoppers literally began queuing at 5:40am for a 9am reopen. IKEA praised shoppers for their patience, but we can’t help but think there might’ve been a smarter way to operate waiting lines.

Though accentuated in the current climate, in addition to encouraging appointment booking, virtual queue management has become increasingly popular in recent years. Even a simple SMS can notify individuals of quieter shopping times throughout a given day, or remind them of their allocated time slot, to avoid the necessity of queuing while continuing to operate in a safe manner.  

Focus on mobile communications

Customer retention is essential for any successful business and it’s worth noting that 72% of consumers have changed stores, brands or the way that they shop since the onset of the pandemic. This suggests brands need to work harder to build relationships and communicate effectively with their existing customer base. 

In addition to focusing on customer communications, it’s vital brands also consider the communication channels they’re using. Following Amazon Go’s launch, it became apparent just how important it was for retailers to consider how mobile shapes in-store shopping. Afterall, 71% of consumers say they use their mobile in-stores. So by opting for communications which make use of SMS, RCS and WhatsApp, businesses can not only benefit from utilising channels which boast open rates up to 95%, but also use these communications to boost the in-store experience. For instance, businesses could send promotions and deals to be claimed in-store direct to customer mobiles.

Now more so than ever before, customer experience is critical to the in-store approach for retailers, large and small. 

For more detail on how our communication solutions can be used to increase footfall and enhance the in-store customer experience, please feel free to contact our experienced team on 0333 258 1722 or email [email protected].

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