Traditional brick and mortar stores are certainly feeling the impact of online sales. For such a store, it is imperative that you appeal to walk-in traffic. Thankfully, there are a host of ideas that can be useful in this regard, and many are even low to no cost.
Your Business Looks Ugly
The first thing to do is to make sure that your business doesn’t look ugly. Unless a customer has visited a website, your storefront will be their first impression. Poor signage, odd colors, confusing information, clutter or unappealing items, and more can contribute to a storefront that screams “keep walking.” Neatly done and professional signage – either permanent or on A-frame display boards – is eye-catching and interesting. Having some of your best products near the windows so people can see into will entice customers inside your shop. Avoid putting clearance or low-value items at the front or outside.
Balloons and flags are a great way to draw customer’s eyes with movement as they sway in the wind, as long as they aren’t allowed to become messy or faded. Lastly, don’t neglect the landscape.
Existing Customers Aren’t Being Targeted Enough
Sometimes businesses put so much emphasis on new customers that they forget to keep or re-engage their existing customer base. Running campaigns with benefits for new customers while ignoring your existing customers can be a big turn off. Reward loyalty with loyalty programs and incentives or find ways to have existing customers help recruit new customers, such as getting a coupon for linking on social media. If you can, collect customer information such as emails and phone numbers so that you can send them messages. It is important to avoid sending overly frequent messages (spamming) and to remember to send existing customers promotional offers.
You Don’t Have a Website
The digital world can have big ramifications on the physical one. Whether or not you are selling products and services online, it will be important to have a website. A website can provide online advertising avenues and can often be found in local searches. It serves as a window that, like your storefront, people can see and be attracted by. You can also use your website to advertise events, provide information, give contact information and more. Make sure your website domain name is as similar as possible to your business and use a .com address if available. Websites are also a great place to host customer testimonials, which can be maximized by having pictures of happy customers as well.
You Aren’t Using Social Media
Similar to hosting a website, having a social media presence is a big part of any business. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and more are a phenomenal way to generate a positive buzz around your business. Social media is a primary avenue for user-generated content. Think of restaurant customers posting pictures of food, or of clothing store customers posting selfies in their new outfit. By having a social media presence, these people can link back to you, exposing all their digital friends to your business and brand. This is important because customers posting such pictures or stories of their own volition is seen as trustworthy by others.
Social media is also a great way to run and announce events that might be held at your store and can be used in conjunction with other businesses or services, all linked together via social media.
It is possible that your business will face heavy competition, so having an online footprint beyond your basic site and social media presence is important. You can easily add it to Apple Maps, so people navigating nearby or searching will know what your business does. Similarly, Google My Business is a service that allows people searching for the product or service you provide (using the ubiquitous Google search service) to be connected to your business. It employs a tactic called local SEO that focuses on people in the area local to your business when keywords are entered into their preferred search engine. This is a clear way to generate traffic, as most people searching for something specific are doing it with the intention of going to a business that meets their needs soon, if not that very day.
Adding your business to Apple Maps or Google My Business is a great way to complete your digital footprint along with your website and social media platforms. All can be done for fairly minimal costs, allowing you to maximize profit.
You Haven’t Committed to Your Staff
Unless you are your only employee, you will have made the decision to entrust some of your business and the handling of customers and merchandise to others. This can be a tough thing, and you want to ensure that you have the right people in place and that they are treating your customers well. The best way to do this is to make sure that your business is a happy and hot place to work. Engaged and happy staff stay with your business longer, create happy customers and keep the store looking great.
Happy employees build relationships with customers, which in turn leads to customers becoming regulars. A good starting base pay and excellent incentives such as healthcare or matching a percentage of money put into a 401-k are always an excellent baseline. You should also not shy away from bonuses, or even surprise gift cards for high performers or exceptional service.
You Aren’t Promoting Memorable Experiences
In the age of online retail, brick and mortar stores are increasingly turning to unique, interesting and memorable experiences as a way to get customers in the door. The rise of Apple Store copycats with non-traditional infrastructure is a clear trend, while the inclusion of coffee shops inside book stores is another example. Beyond this, don’t be afraid to step outside the box and do things like host parties and events. It would be a good idea to become involved in your local community or have workshops. In your store, provide refreshments, let customers test products or samples and otherwise be unique and more than just a store. Combine with your social media and other online messaging to maximize and build your brand before, during and after your efforts.
You Didn’t Build a Brand
One of the most valuable assets a small business can have is a recognizable and loved brand. A brand is essentially your business identity, and what customers tend to identify with and become loyal toward. Your brand should inspire trust and loyalty in your customers and satisfaction in your products. You can establish credibility in the marketplace using your brand. Your brand is a big component of your online presence as well, as you can create hashtags and social media campaigns based around your brand and logo. A good and unique brand will help with your business visibility and create lasting customer relationships.
You Haven’t Made Tough Changes
At some point, you will have to make some tough changes. Too many business owners shy away from this aspect of the job. Deciding when it is necessary to part ways with an employee who isn’t working out, whether you need to relocate your store or take a loss on a product to clear space are all examples of tough decisions. It is important for business leaders to consider information and data, company goals and vision, and the impact on the bottom line when making tough decisions. A good business owner will consult with others but must understand that the ultimate decision rests with them.
Running a business and store is not easy. Done correctly, it can be both enjoyable and profitable. Thankfully, business owners have many avenues to approach the issue of luring walk-ins and making their business succeed.
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