With most businesses back on their feet and not just relying on online sales to keep them afloat, retailers can start thinking of ways to drive foot traffic back to their stores.
Having said that, traditional methods of driving foot traffic may not be as effective as before. With safety and cleanliness being the main concern of most shoppers, experience-based strategies such as in-store events and classes are no longer practical as they once were pre-pandemic.
That’s why we’ve put together 5 strategies to help store owners drive foot traffic in a post-COVID-19 retail environment. Check them out below.
1. Focus on Health & Safety
Shoppers don’t want to feel at risk of contracting COVID-19 when they enter your store. So if you want more customers to shop at your physical store, you need to make them feel like it is safe to do so.
You can build trust with shoppers by visibly cleaning and sanitizing your shop, providing staff (and if possible customers) with masks, and placing hand sanitizer throughout the store. It is also a good idea to limit the amount of shoppers allowed inside at a given time. Consider placing social distancing markers or decals on the floor. This will help ensure that customers are following social distancing guidelines once they enter your store.
For more information on how to implement health & safety measures post-COVID-19, download our checklist here. Depending on the demographics (e.g. a lot of your customers are seniors) in your area and the space available in your store for people to socially-distance themselves while shopping, you may want to consider a mandatory mask policy. These can be controversial and must be implemented and managed carefully to minimize potential friction. Learn more about how to manage and implement mask policies in your store.
Don’t forget to take advantage of digital channels (social media, SMS, email) to communicate with shoppers. This way, customers will be aware of the health and safety measures you have in place and will be more comfortable coming to your store.
Remember – generating store foot traffic during the pandemic is not just about being the trendiest, cheapest, or most unique brand, it is about appearing safe.
2. Double-down on Google
Hundreds of millions of shoppers use Google everyday to start their product searches, making it the ideal place to list your merchandise.
Merchants in the U.S. can now access this feature for free while an international rollout is expected by the end of the year.
TAKU Retail POS has partnered with Google to make it easier for retailers to automatically sync and optimize their product listings. With TAKU, merchants can choose to send their existing POS product information with the built-in feature to unlock the free product listings. Because this is a built-in integration right in the POS, there’s no data entry required. To learn more, click here.
TAKU’s integration with Google also allows you to display your product catalogue online through Google’s “See what’s in store,” a free showcase directly below your Google store listing. SWIS lets you display your store’s stock and products online with real-time stock updates, attracting nearby shoppers to your store.
As the saying goes, showing up is half the battle. Shoppers need to know when your store is actually open. A shopper that shows up to a closed store because the opening hours listed for your business on Google Maps are outdated likely won’t be back. Make sure you have a verified Google My Business (GMB) store listing and keep your store hours up-to-date. If you’re not using GMB yet, do it right away as it’s the best free online marketing tool available to small businesses. For more information, check out our blog post about why retailers need Google My Business.
Contactless payments are not only convenient, they also provide retailers with a safe and secure way to take payments in-store. Throughout the pandemic, contactless transactions have increased and even become a preferred payment method among consumers. Offering contactless payment will help customers feel safer when purchasing as they don’t have to touch high contact surfaces such as PIN pads or checkout counters.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the demand for contactless payment and pickup methods has significantly increased and stores that offer them will be more attractive to customers when they’re choosing where to shop.
One thing to remember though, is that contactless payments may not be EMV and therefore you may be liable for chargebacks. Prior to the pandemic, merchants would generally set their contactless limits at $50 to $100 per card per day but since March, many retailers have opted to increase the limit to make it easier for customers to buy more when they are in-store. But higher tap limits will increase the chance that those merchants will be responsible for higher-value chargebacks. Make sure to check with your merchant processor regarding liability and what you can do to protect yourself if you ever need to appeal a chargeback (e.g. getting signatures, installing CCTV cameras, etc.) if you are considering adding contactless for the first time or increasing your contactless daily limits.
4. Buy Online, Pickup In-store
For customers that are not comfortable shopping in-store, you can create a contactless retail experience with buy online, pickup in-store (BOPIS) or pickup at curbside. Shoppers can use your website to browse items, pay online and simply drive to your location when their order is ready for pickup. Once it is safe to offer in-store pickup in a safe, efficient manner, this is always our recommended fulfillment option for retailers that have physical stores. In-store pickups are not only more cost-effective (e.g. no packing or shipping costs), they generally have lower return rates since people can check products prior to pickup and, most importantly, they can lead to higher-margin impulse buys when shoppers see other products they might want to purchase once they are in your store. This is why it is important for retailers to plan carefully where they will place their pickup location in-store. It should be a location that allows shoppers to feel safe (e.g. allows enough space for social distancing) while making it convenient for them to see and pick up additional items quickly.
To make it easier for their staff, retailers should consider enabling staggered pickup times at checkout. This way, long lines and crowds can be avoided as customers must make an appointment to pick up their purchases. All-in-one sales platforms such as TAKU have a built-in function in their online store builder to allow shoppers to choose a pickup date and time at checkout.
5. Exclusive In-store Promotions
Running in-store promotions is a tried and tested way to drive foot traffic. However, retailers need to be strategic about how they run promotions so that they can maximize profitability. Using promotions to generate foot traffic can be done by creating exclusive in-store offers which incentivize customers to come to your store rather than shop online.
The following are some promotional strategies retailers can use:
Exclusivity with Private In-store Appointments – this strategy works particularly well if you are selling higher-value products that can benefit from having a sales associate involved to answer any questions
Exclusivity with In-Store Promotions – use your email marketing lists and social media posts to promote special offers to your best customers with limited time/quantity in-store only promotions specifically for them
In-Store Bundle Discounts – this strategy is particularly useful when you have excess stock you are looking to get rid of but want to ensure a minimum basket size in-store
Surprise In-Store Markdowns – random markdowns such as “score of the week” are effective in attracting both new and returning customers. These promotions are usually less risky as you know exactly how the discount will affect your margins. A smart POS system can analyze in-store promotions, allowing store owners to see trends and margins.
Conditional In-Store Offers – examples include spend a certain amount and get a free item, buy a certain item and save a percentage off your entire order etc.
Want more retail tips? Find out more about retail merchandising below
Google Local Inventory Ads (LIA) significantly increase retail store sales by turning nearby shoppers who are searching online into in-store customers.
River Island, Best Buy, and Williams-Sonoma Inc. are examples of retailers who have successfully leveraged Google LIA together with their POS systems to grow foot traffic and sales. Now, smaller retailers have the chance to do the same with a minimal budget.
Keep reading to find out how you too, can take advantage of this opportunity to increase your retail sales.
Local and Mobile Searches Lead to In-Store Purchases
There are two factors that make Google LIAs so effective:
For retailers, this means that there is a lot to be gained by being easily found online. The challenge then becomes figuring out how to give target shoppers the answers they are looking for at the exact moment that they are searching.
This is where Google Local Inventory Ads come in.
Google LIAs helps store owners succeed in these micro-moments – by capturing shopper intent and most importantly, the sale.
What are Google Local Inventory Ads (LIA)?
Local Inventory Ads showcase product and store information to nearby shoppers who are searching on Google. They are different from traditional Google ads as they are designed to drive shoppers to your physical store. While users also have the option of purchasing online (if you have an e-commerce store), LIAs are meant to attract nearby users and only show when a shopper is within a certain range of your store.
When shoppers click on an ad, they are taken to the local storefront page which can be either a Google-powered product listing or your own e-commerce site. Here, they can view other in-stock merchandise as well as important store information such as business hours, directions, current promotions, and more.
Below is an example.
When I search for “laundry detergent near me”, Local Inventory Ads appear next to the search results. Both Canadian Tire and the Home Depot are currently running LIA campaigns for laundry detergent (pointed out in red below).
I know that at Canadian Tire and the Home Depot, the items are definitely in stock because of the “in store” label.
How do Local Inventory Ads Work?
Let’s take a look at the example below.
Canadian Tire is looking to increase foot traffic to their physical stores. So they’ve purchased Local Inventory Ads hoping to target local shoppers like me. They’ve set up a Google Shopping campaign that showcases ads to shoppers within a 45 km radius.
As you can see above, I’ve made a search on my mobile phone for a ceramic stove top-cleaner. Like most people (87% of shoppers), I frequently turn to a search engine as a resource for product information.
By looking at the search results, I can see that Canadian Tire has what I need in stock and the closest store is only 2 km away.
I decide to head to the store because I am certain that they have the product that I need. A store associate is able to tell me more about the product in-store and even recommends I try out a surface scraper. After my conversation with a store employee, I’m happy to purchase both products.
LIAs let local shoppers know that you have the items they are looking for – at the exact moment that they are searching for it. The ads even create a sense of urgency and encourage shoppers to act by letting them know when certain items are low in stock.
2) Advanced Geo-targeting Capabilities: Target local shoppers who are actually nearby the store and are looking to purchase. Advanced geo-targeting capabilities allow retailers to reach target shoppers within a certain km radius.
3) Measure Campaign Results: See how your ads are impacting your bottom line. Monitor the effect LIAs are having on foot traffic and in-store sales – and adjust your campaign bids accordingly.
4) Gain a Competitive Edge as an Independent Retailer: In the past, Google LIAs were only available to national retailers. But now, independent retailers have the ability to run high-performing ads on Google with a minimal budget. For as little as $150-$300 per month, store owners have the ability to drive local foot traffic and increase store sales.
5) Automatic Ad Optimization: To minimize marketing costs, LIAs automatically turn off when products sell out. Not only does this benefit your bottom line, it also results in a better shopping experience for your customers.
To learn more about how your retail store can easily implement Google LIAs to increase foot traffic and in-store sales, click here.
For those of you who don’t know, Google My Business is a powerful tool that allows retail businesses to connect with local shoppers.
And posts on Google My Business is a promotion tool that helps optimize a store’s business listing and increase foot traffic.
Put simply, it is an easy and free way to promote your business locally.
I’ll explain more below.
What are Google My Business Posts?
Google My Business posts is a feature that allows you to share content about your store on Google Search and Maps. It is similar to any other social media platform like Twitter or Facebook.
As a store owner, you are able to share news, promotions, events, and new products with shoppers. It posts directly to your Google My Business listing – so existing and potential customers can see your content directly in search results.
What are the Benefits of Google My Business Posts?
Posts on Google give retailers the ability to communicate with shoppers so they are better informed when making purchasing decisions. Which means that local businesses are able to:
Engage shoppers with attractive content (photos, videos, GIFS etc.)
Promote any new sales, products, or events
Improve shopper experience with relevant and timely information
Communicate directly with local shoppers
How Does it Work?
For each post, business owners can include text, call-to-action buttons, and/or photos or videos to promote their store. There are four different GMB post types including:
What’s New: Share general information about your retail business. For example, you can give shoppers an inside look at your Halloween displays and merchandise.
Events: Promote any upcoming events that you are holding. Each event requires a start time, end time, and a title. It is also good practice to include a photo/video,an event description, and a call to action button leading to a landing page for your event.
Products: Store owners also have the option of promoting any products or new merchandise. For example, a pet store could promote their new range of dog food. Keep in mind that product posts require a title and photo/video.
Offers: According to Google, 50% of shoppers are looking for promotions and discounts when searching for a business online. So provide shoppers with information on the latest sales and promotional offers. Offers will appear at the top of your business listing on both Google Search and Maps.
These posts require a title, and start/end dates. It’s also good practice to include photos/videos, descriptions, coupon codes, and terms and conditions of the offer. The call-to-action button “View” will automatically appear on all Offer posts.
Some Important Things to Note
GMB posts disappear after 7 days unless you set another shorter time frame. This is why it is important to post consistent and relevant content.
It is a good idea to include GMB in your marketing strategy. Place the same importance on GMB posts as you would on other social platforms like Instagram or Twitter.
Google provides insights on your posts – including how many views each post got. It also tells you how many users clicked on a link in a post
We hope you found this article helpful!
Would you like to learn how to attract local shoppers on Google?
Good news – we are hosting a breakfast seminar exclusively for GTA store owners! We will be discussing how you can attract more local shoppers with POS technology among other important topics. To learn more about the event and to register, click here.
Reviews are an important part of local search. According to Google, 2 out of 3 shoppers say having positive reviews was an important factor when selecting a business or store to purchase from. This means that most people like to do research before ever setting foot into a store.
This means two things:
More good reviews = higher ranking in local search
Higher ranking in local search = more foot traffic = more sales
It is generally good practice to ask shoppers to leave a review after they have made a purchase from your store. Touch base after a few day or a week to make sure that they are enjoying/ have enjoyed using your products. Also remember to ask loyal and long-term shoppers who have not made a purchase in a while.
How you ask for reviews is equally as important as when you ask for them – which brings us to the next point.
2. Make it Easy
Shoppers won’t leave reviews if it takes them more than 5 seconds to find your page. The easier the review process is for your store, the more reviews you are likely to gather.
Here are a few ways you can make it simple for your shoppers to leave a review.
Make Review Cards
Create physical “drop us a review” cards with your store’s short URL. Place them near checkout and remind your employees to hand them out to shoppers or put them into their shopping bags after they make a purchase. You will want to go over best practices with your employees.
Employees should hand these out to shoppers who have had a pleasant experience at the store. For example, your staff should look out for the following situations:
if an employee had a positive interaction with a shopper in-store
if a shopper was experiencing a problem and are grateful for your store’s customer service.
It is obviously a good idea to avoid handing them out to unpleasant or rude shoppers.
You can also create a reward system within the store for your staff. Create incentives for your employees; reward the staff member who hands out the most review cards or generates the most reviews.
2) Send a follow-up text or email
Go mobile by sending shoppers a follow-up text or create an email campaign after a few days of their purchase (so that they have time to try your products). Here are a few tips for what to include in your follow-up text or email:
personalize the email or text : you can personalize the message by including the shopper’s name. Not only do personalized messages make shoppers feel important, they are proven to have a higher open rate as well.
keep it short : make sure your message is short, simple, and straight to the point.
Include the short review URL : shoppers are not likely to try find your Google My Business account. Once you claim your short name on Google My Business, you will have access to a short URL that will directs shoppers to leave a review (shown below).
To get access to your short URL for reviews, you must first claim your short name. To find out more information about Google My Business short names and the steps you must take to claim your short name, click here.
3. You will see the “Get more reviews” box on the right side of the page – as shown below. Copy your short URL for reviews to share in your email or text message.
4) Add a Review Link on your Store’s Website
Include a “review” link or button on relevant pages of your store’s website. This might be on your contact page, thank-you page, or even a section on your homepage.
5) Incentivize shoppers
Offering shoppers a reward or incentive for leaving a review is a great way to gather more Google My Business reviews. Effective incentives include a $15 gift card or store credit, loyalty points, store merchandise etc.
6) Include a Review Link in your Email signature
Adding a short and simple call to action in your email signature is another effective way to gather Google My Business reviews. For example, “Your opinion is important to us! Drop us a review at [GMB short URL].”
This strategy is especially important for retailers who regularly email their customers.
Responding to Reviews
Once you’ve set up a process for gathering reviews, your focus needs to shift to responding to them effectively.
Responding to reviews shows potential shoppers that you value good customer service. It also shows shoppers that their opinions will be heard and leaving a review is worth their time.
If you are not making use of digital marketing tools, you are missing out on a huge chunk of customers!
Shoppers are now searching for retail businesses like yours online. According to Google:
3 out of 4 customers now use a search engine to find a business.
7 out of 10 customers made a purchase from a business they found using a search engine.
This is why digital marketing strategies are essential for retailers who are looking to drive foot traffic and sales.
To learn more about the benefits of digital marketing for retail stores, click here.
Below are three strategies you can leverage to build an online presence and attract more shoppers.
3 Online Marketing Tactics that Increase Foot Traffic
1) Local Directory Listings
Local search results present a huge opportunity for retail stores; according to Google, 80% of people now use a search engine to find local information.
This is why local directory listings are so valuable to retailers as a digital marketing tool – they help optimize your retail business for local search (or local SEO). In simpler terms, they help you be found locally by making your retail store appear in search results.
Directories feature business information such as your address, contact information, store hours along with other useful features such as customer reviews, images, videos, and preferred payment options.
Not only do local directories help you appear higher up in search results – they also help your business stand out among big box stores and online retailers.
As mentioned above, most retail stores haven’t optimised for local search while online competitors can’t compete with your store locally. Meaning – there is a competitive edge you can gain by focusing on local SEO.
To learn more about the basics of SEO, click here.
The following are some online directories that will help you get noticed in local search results:
Google My Business
Bing Places for Business
2) Buy Online, Pick Up In-store (BOPI)
Buy Online, Pick Up In-store or BOPI (also commonly known as click and collect) takes advantage of consumer shopping habits to drive foot traffic.
To summarize, BOPI drives foot traffic while offering several advantages to retailers including:
Higher rates of impulse purchases
Decreased shipping costs
Lower return rates
3) Google Local Inventory Ads
Google Local Inventory Ads are one of the most important digital marketing tools that retailers can leverage to drive foot traffic. This is because LIAs give retailers the unique ability to display a store’s in-stock merchandise – at the exact moment that a relevant local search is made.
When a shopper makes a relevant product search, and that product is available at a local store, they will be shown a local inventory ad with an “in stock” label.
Once that shopper clicks on the ad, they will be taken to the Local Storefront page. Here, they will be given more information about the product and your physical store including other in-stock inventory, current promotions, store location, and hours.
So by implementing Google LIAs in your digital marketing strategy, you will be able to target local shoppers and drive relevant traffic to your store!
We hope you found this article helpful!
Would you like to learn more about how to increase your retail store’s online presence?
Good news- we are hosting a breakfast seminar exclusively for GTA store owners! We will be discussing how you can attract more local shoppers with POS technology among other important topics. To learn more about the event and to register, click here.