Retail is in competition with the online shopping experience in so many ways in the modern world and one way in which retail outlets can fight back is through looking at ways to increase footfall. This might seem a difficult prospect, but it is possible through a variety of processes and approaches, including mystery shopping projects and a periodical review and thorough analysis of each stores individual approach. From there changes can be made to increase the likelihood of new customers entering the store.
Footfall has been a problem for retailers for a few years, and it has been down significantly again at the beginning of 2017. For too long physical retailers have felt under threat and seen the online shopping landscape as the enemy. The time has come for a new approach, one where instead of looking to place blame elsewhere, retailers look inwards and think about how to improve their own practices to increase footfall. There are still plenty of people out there who like to go to a physical store to do their shopping, others prefer a mix of the two. The new retail world is about improving customer engagement and satisfaction within the constrictions they currently face from competition and business rates.
Helen Dickinson OBE, chief executive British Retail Consortium, said: “At a time when retail is being re-imagined as customers seek more engaging experiences in our high streets, town centres and retail park and centres, the incentive for retailers to innovate and invest in physical space is being curtailed by the upward only trajectory of business rates.”
One of the biggest positives that physical retailers have over the online market is that when it comes down to it, people still prefer real human interaction in the main. Nothing beats speaking to a real person to try and get help or guidance. It can still be a frustrating process if conducted poorly, but when performed well it beats an automated system hands down. The customer journey should be the focal point of your customer service standards. What are you doing to create an immersive customer experience where they understand you are there to help? Are your team performing to the highest customer service standards?
One way you can look to increase retail footfall is to conduct regular mystery shopping surveys within your retail environment. Mystery shopping assists retailers in constantly analysing and improving the quality of customer service on a face-to-face level. You can measure different key stages of the customer journey, from customer acknowledgement, the layout and product placement of the store, the checkout process and post-service care.
If you improve on a few core customer experience points their journey will be a pleasant one and you will see a natural increase in footfall through word of mouth and a positive brand reengagement with customers. This includes making the customers feel welcome as they enter the store, be in the right positions for assistance if required, provide the service or goods that your target customers are looking for, guide them towards the right decisions and confirm the sale in a positive fashion, without being too pushy.