With more than 5,500 store closings across the U.S. in 2018, it’s clear that the traditional storefront isn’t enough to keep shoppers coming back. So, what can brick-and-mortar brands and stores do to secure their spot in this new retail landscape?
Here are 4 Ways to Drive More In-Store Sales from Less Traffic:
1) Look Past People Counts
A store’s number of visitors was once a hallmark metric of success. But, retail has changed significantly, and to keep pace, retailers and brands must stop relying on high volumes of traffic to meet their numbers. The reality is that traffic will continue to decline as competition grows and online stores constantly make shopping more convenient. Furthermore, using an antiquated people counter to compete simply won’t be enough because it doesn’t tell the full story of where stores are excelling – or more importantly, underperforming. Traffic only presents one piece of the puzzle: how many. But to keep up with today’s ever-evolving shoppers you need to known more so that you can optimize revenue on every in-store visit. You must therefore shift your thinking from, “How can I get more traffic,” to “How can I make sure I’m creating experiences shoppers want?” Likewise, outdated practices such as shopper labs and research are costly, and their static approach lacks the agility to contend with shifting shopper behavior. But, with advances in in-store analytics technologies, it is now a possibility to measure the in-store experience in real-time. These technologies instantly provide the answers to questions like:
- Which messages or promotions drive a Baby Boomer versus a Millennial to purchase?
- How often are store associates unavailable – or conversely, approaching shoppers too early?
- Of total traffic, how many members of your target audience walk by a specific category, display, brand or other area of interest?
- Which types of packaging, placement, and promotions do target personas respond to most?
- What is the interest level of shoppers in product assortment and which products are they considering?
- What’s the optimal level of promotions needed across varying shopper personas?
2) Instantly Tailor the Experience for Shoppers
Online retailers and social media channels have the advantage of being able to make adjustments instantly and cater to the rapidly evolving expectations across varying shopper personas. Not only do stores need to become just as fluid as these channels; they must also become relevant and tailored to each shopper’s interests and behaviors. Instead of offering stagnant experiences that are updated every few months, stores need to be able to react to shoppers instantly. Up to 81% of shoppers entering stores are at a mid to late buying state. Generic ads and promotions fail to make an impact on these informed shoppers. In fact, half of shoppers never or rarely find ads, content, or promotions seen in-store valuable. And, according to Accenture, most shoppers (78%) feel that companies fail to tailor experiences based on a deep understanding of their needs, preferences, and past interactions. Today, responsive technology can be used to dynamically tailor each shopper’s experience in-store without the use of mobile. Relevant product information, product recommendations and promotions can be dynamically tailored in real-time based on shopper age group, gender, mood, product interaction, proximity, and many other unique factors. Similarly, lighting and sound can also be tailored as well.
3) Rethink the Role of the Store
Advertising has lost its influence. The old model of pouring money into advertising and using stores to push product is ineffective. Our research show a whopping majority of shoppers (89%) become aware of products outside of advertising, with just 11% discovering brands or products through TV, billboards, radio, catalogues, or other forms of traditional advertising. As mass-marketing becomes obsolete, brands and retailers must evolve to respond to shoppers’ growing expectations and differing journeys. We’ve already seen some progress here:
- Inventory-less showrooms to meet needs to test the product before purchase online by Nordstrom and Bonobos
- Pop-up shops to build more intimate relationships, generate excitement, deliver unique experiences, test pilot initiatives and capture rich shopper insights, used by Amazon, Target and countless others (According to PopUp Republic, the pop-up industry has grown to approximately $10 billion in sales.)
- Smaller-format, neighborhood stores with curated, localized experiences to satisfy changing shopper preferences by Target, Walmart and Publix
- BOPIS and endless aisle kiosks by Walmart and Zara
- Local community gathering places in lieu of commerce centers by Apple
- Destination-type concepts focused on food and entertainment by several malls
- Competitive retail partnerships—JCPenney and Sephora, IKEA and Sonos, Amazon and Kohl’s
4) Make Store Associates Experts Again
Interaction with friendly, knowledgeable staff is one of the key advantages of an in-store retail experience. Yet, store associates aren’t meeting the needs of today’s shoppers. Half of shoppers feel they already know more about products they’re interested in than store employees. How can you help your staff regain the position of trusted and reliable resources? Hy-Vee supermarkets, for one, have introduced in-store dietitians who provide shopping tours, health screenings, and other nutrition services for health-conscious customers. Likewise, the beauty subscription service Birchbox employs staff to offer services like makeup touch-ups, nail polish changes, and a “Try Bar” where shoppers can test new trends. Another way stores are handling this challenge is with technology. Warby Parker, for example, uses a mobile clienteling app to provide valuable, real-time product and inventory information. Store associates can also share looks or products directly with customers via e-mail or SMS.
Today, next-gen responsive technology is taking this one step further. Now you can also automatically alert staff to a particular unattended shopper or uncover high-traffic areas in real-time, or even provide associates with insights into shoppers’ browsing behaviors to better tailor their experience.
Image Credit: Shutterstock/blurAZ