The coronavirus outbreak has introduced additional difficulties to an already challenging business environment. For small retailers, social distancing measures mean changes to customer shopping behaviors.
Now, more than ever, brick-and-mortar retail must find ways to adapt and thrive. As lockdown restrictions ease, here are some key ways small business retailers can drive more in-store traffic and survive this time of transition.
1. Get found in online search results
Even before the pandemic caused small businesses to close, consumers regularly used the internet to research local products and services. During the pandemic, research shows that eCommerce sales increased by 30 percent compared to the same time in 2019.
These statistics show the importance of developing a robust online presence. And one essential step to getting your business to appear at the top of local search results on Google and other search engines is by claiming your Google My Business listing.
A free service offered by Google, Google My Business helps your company get featured for related searches across Google search and Google Maps. When your Google My Business page is optimized correctly, searchers can easily find your store, helping to drive foot traffic.
2. Provide a cohesive multi-channel customer experience
Claiming your Google My Business listing is not the only way to engage with customers online. By developing a multi-channel marketing strategy, your business can engage with its customers, where they’re at.
Integrating online marketing tactics with offline experiences can be as simple as creating a click-and-collect program. With click-and-collect, your customers can shop at their convenience. You can further encourage customer engagement by offering a click-and-collect promo or discount.
Not only does this overcome shipping costs for your business, but customers can also avoid capacity restrictions. And when they visit your store to collect their purchase, the right in-store signage can encourage impulse buying.
3. Offer personalized shopping services
With COVID-19 dramatically changing the retail landscape, small businesses must move beyond traditional selling tactics. To draw customers away from online competitors, offer a personalized in-store shopping experience that no website can match.
In-store services like tailoring or a personal shopper allow your business to engage with its customers on a personal level. Other retail experiences to try include small group workshops or interactive stations where product experts can showcase your products.
By creating meaningful experiences, you develop personal relationships with your shoppers. Elevating the shopping experiences increases the repeatable value of in-store visits, resulting in lasting ROI for your business.
4. Use in-store promotions to attract new customers
Running promos that draw digital-savvy customers inside your store requires more than just putting up a sale sign on your window. The right way to encourage customers to visit your store is by reaching out to them via social media and email.
Consider leveraging social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook to run in-store promos like time-sensitive discounts. Likewise, you can run email campaigns such as “free gift with purchase” or “buy one, get one” offers to increase average sale orders.
5. Manage foot traffic with data analytics
Footfall data is an all-important tool for small businesses. Processing footfall analytics helps your business ensure customer flow follows proper safety measures. Monitoring footfall optimizes crowd management and gives you actionable business advice on operational efficiency.
Through the use of footfall data, your business can identify popular days of the week. This information will help your business maximize its multi-channel marketing strategies and in-store promotions to increase in-store visits and sales.
On top of identifying popular days, footfall analytics also help determine heavy foot traffic areas.
Knowing where customers tend to cluster within your store can help you improve product positioning in your store. By placing high-value products in crucial cluster areas, you encourage higher average sale orders.
While COVID-19 has caused the in-store experience to decline significantly, being creative with multi-channel strategies and foot traffic analytics can help small businesses pivot in the current business climate.
Adopting a more flexible stance on how your business operates will help customers feel more valued. By providing positive in-store shopping experiences, small businesses will be rewarded with more in-store foot traffic, increased customer loyalty, and, ultimately, a more profitable bottom line.Vic Bageria is the Founder and CEO of Sávant Data System LLC, a retail solutions and services provider focused on empowering businesses with progressive technology solutions such as People Counting and In-Store Analytics to improve operational efficiency and profitability (such as those provided by Xpandretail powered by Savant). Vic is an award-winning entrepreneur and visionary, with experience in building recurring revenue technology businesses, who has mastered the intersection of technology, consumer marketing, customer behavior and instore insights.