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One of the biggest challenges for brick-and-mortar store owners is finding ways to increase foot traffic to their stores. That was always the case, but it has become increasingly difficult to bring people into stores in recent years thanks to the explosion of online shopping. Today, online retail giants like Amazon can even offer same-day delivery in some cases. When you combine the convenience of internet shopping with the low prices that big retailers can offer, it is easy to see why local stores have such a hard time finding ways to compete.
Even if you have a small online store, you still need to find ways to bring customers in to see you. The good news is that there are some ways to do that quickly without having to spend a ton of money. Here are three ways to give your in-store foot traffic a boost within three days.
Idea #1: Host an In-Store Event
One of the quickest and easiest ways to get customers into your store is to host an event. Some events might require elaborate planning, but if you use your imagination, you can set up a compelling event in just a few days.
The key to setting up a successful event is to think about what makes your store unique and find a way to capitalize on it. Let’s look at a hypothetical example.
Imagine that you own a small bookstore. You probably won’t be able to compete with Amazon’s prices. They have such a high volume of sales that they can afford to sell at a deep discount. However, you can offer something that they can’t – the possibility of getting together with other book lovers in a casual social setting. You might not be able to attract a big-time author on short notice, but why not set up a reading featuring a few local writers? You could offer free coffee and snacks as an incentive, have local authors read from their work, and offer their books for sale. An alternative might be to host a book swap or even start a book club.
An apparel store might put together a fashion show or pair up with a local beauty supply store to offer makeovers. The key is to get creative and think about what you can do to entice customers to visit your store. You can get the word out quickly with signs, cross-promotions, and local radio advertising. If you have an app for your business, you can even use push notifications to let your local customers know about your event.
Idea #2: Start Offering Everyday Freebies
Everybody loves to get something free. It’s part of human nature. It might seem counterintuitive to give away something for nothing, but there is actually a psychological basis for doing it. All people are subject to brain quirks called cognitive biases. They’re mental shortcuts. They might not – in the grand scheme of things – make logical sense, but you can use them to your advantage if you’re smart.
One of the most common cognitive biases that retailers can use to their benefit is Reciprocity. Reciprocity is the idea that if someone gives us something, we must give them something in return. When you offer customers something for free, they will be far more inclined to buy from you than they would be otherwise.
Some big retailers have the idea of reciprocity down. Costco is a great example. They hand out free samples in the grocery department every day. They do it because they know that people who get a free taste of a product are very likely to buy it. Grocery store Trader Joe’s does the same thing.
Even if you don’t sell food, there are some ways that you can offer customers something free. An apparel company might offer a free luxury hanger with every purchase. A bookstore might offer a free bookmark or complimentary coffee; and a chocolatier might offer a free chocolate to people who come in to the store. There are countless ways to use free giveaways to your advantage. Of course, you also need to let people know about your giveaways. Putting a big sign in the window is a good way to get started, as is touting your new policy on social media. As you implement your giveaways, you’ll end up getting a lot of work-of-mouth advertising, too. The free publicity and increased foot traffic will be more than enough to let you recoup what you spend.
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Idea #3: Personalize the Shopping Experience
As mentioned earlier, it can be nearly impossible for small companies to compete with big online retailers when it comes to price and convenience. However, there is one thing that small retailers can do that big companies can’t. While it might seem that customer service is a thing of the past, the opposite is actually true. Oftentimes, the only reason that customers choose to patronize a local business over a big chain is service. They know that if they shop local, they will get better service than they would get online.
A great way to increase foot traffic to your business is to dial your customer service up a notch and offer customers a truly personalized experience. Many retailers are now offering concierge service to customers. For example, an apparel store might decide to offer the services of a personal shopper or even a stylist. They could pair up with a local salon or shoe store to combine services, giving customers the ability to have a one-stop shopping experience that’s truly unique.
You might also consider using mobile technology to contact customers when they’re in your area. If you have an app for your business, push notifications can allow you to send customers coupons or special offers when they’re nearby, and you can go the extra mile by pulling out a product that you think your customer might enjoy based on their buying history. Think of it as an in-person version of Amazon’s “Customers who bought this also bought…” feature. It’s a good way to make your customers feel valued and special – and they will tell other people about it, too.
To use this idea to attract traffic, you’ll need to get the word out. One good way is to create an offer on social media – say for a free session with a personal shopper or something like that. You’ll entice customers to visit the store, and the unique experience they have will turn them into repeat customers – and brand ambassadors.
Attracting foot traffic can be a challenge, but the key is to find ways to make your store stand out from the crowd. When customers feel that you offer something that is truly unique, they are far more likely to shop with you than to settle for a mundane experience online – and that’s what you want.