itim insights | How to drive customer footfall back into stores

How to drive customer footfall back into stores

Ali Athar

Stores will only have relevance if retailers can find a way of ‘making human contact count’. The best store managers have long realised this.

When I was a consultant working on retail turnarounds, there was a well-known industry fact. Taking your best store manager and moving him into a marginal store would see profits double.

There is no question that human contact and engagement, if properly channelled, can add value. If you can bring more customers into the store, you have an opportunity to cross-sell and up-sell to them, not to mention provide services.

But none of that works if consumers are no longer coming into stores. So here are five things retailers can do to change that:

1) Offer 30-minute Click & Collect
Our customers who offer this service are seeing more consumers click and reserve, knowing they can get a product the same day (even on the same trip while they are already out and about). What’s more, it saves them a home delivery charge, and avoids issues like having to return it if it does not ‘fit’ and having to wait in for deliveries.

30-minute Click & Collect is the key. It is a compelling proposition and starts moving online traffic back into stores. Our customer who is offering this service has seen 40% of online orders move to store collection.

2) Focus on VIP customers in store
In most retailers, 10% of customers (we call them VIPs) account for 50% of sales. So, if you can get those customers to make one more shop, the results can be significant. To help enable this, each store manager (associate) should have a digital black book of their VIP customers and the tools to engage with them (for example when a new season’s range comes in). This is really making human contact count.

Taking it a step further, what if you target those store managers, not on sales, but on the size of their black book and the number of repeat customer visits a year? We have tools that allow retailers to create a genuine VIP programme and enable store staff to provide personalised service, which will help bring the most important customers back into stores.

3) Offer online vouchers for redemption in store
Distribute vouchers online that can only be redeemed in a store. This will create an incentive for customers to come in – a simple but effective solution for driving store traffic.

4) Offer a 10% discount to customers who Click & Collect from their local store
Nobody is delivering a high percentage of full price sales today. Markdowns and promotions account for 20-30% of margin loss. So why wait for the end of the season to give that away? Instead, use it aggressively to bring traffic back to the store. After all, your most profitable sale is one made in store as you already have the fixed costs. So, make it really attractive to come in. Take away food chains have been successfully doing this for a while – offering a discount if you pick up your order. If you are concerned, you can focus this on your VIPs.

5) Move to a ‘Franchise Light’ store model – encourage proactive selling
Franchised stores generally always outperform own stores. So why not take the incentives of franchisees and convert them into incentives for store managers? Make them believe it is their business, and empower them to do what is best for the store. Consider including localised ranging and stock decisions … even localised pricing. But more importantly, allow them to act as salesmen to their community.

In order to support the above, it is also key to give store staff the right tools to do their selling and service jobs more effectively. In one of our retailers, there are now 500 associate tablets across 120 stores. And, in stores where tablets were introduced, sales went up by 3%.

It is a self-enforcing circle. If you can get people back into stores and they get a fabulous personalised service, they will come back more often. And soon they will be talking about the ‘inconvenience of the internet’.

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