Whether you’re located off the beaten track and are struggling to pull customers towards your store, or you are just struggling to get passers by into your store, footfall is — and always will be — a big challenge for businesses big and small.
When your store’s quiet, it’s easy to feel helpless. But there is plenty you can do to help move things along.
How to increase footfall in-store
- Work on your window display
- Spread out into the street
- Offer freebies
- Partner with other local businesses
- Set up Google my business
- Host events
- Offer click and collect
- Play music
- Invest in your employees
- Space out your store
- Create something instagrammable
1. Work on your window display
Your window display is your best chance of catching the attention of passers by. It’s important to keep it fresh, and focused. Cluttered or tired windows are unlikely to bring people through the door.
Did you know Creoate started out as a shop? It taught us a whole lot about the importance of having a great window display, and about switching it up regularly
We’ve actually written a whole guide to planning your window display, complete with some ideas to get you going, and top tips from the experts. We also have a Pinterest board full of inspiration, too! So we won’t go into too much detail here, but recommend taking some time to read this over.
2. Spread out into the street
One surefire way to capture more attention from passing footfall is to simply make your shop bigger. And no, we don’t mean taking up a lease on the place next door!
We’re talking about making use of all the space you’re legally entitled to (just be sure to check in with your local council or authority before you do anything too drastic). A-boards, slim benches, awnings… anything you can do to catch someone’s eye, or encourage them to linger a little longer outside your window.
3. Offer freebies
Who doesn’t love a freebie? Take spreading out into the street one step further and offer out something free. This doesn’t need to be related to what you actually sell — something edible always works well! If you venture further down your street, or into a busier area, be sure to bring some business cards or flyers with you so people can find their way to your shop.
4. Partner with other local businesses
Two heads are better than one, and the same goes for increasing footfall. Partnering with other neighbouring businesses is a great way to drive more people to your area, especially if you’re based a little out of the centre.
Christmas is an obvious time to do this. A street-wide Christmas fair makes a wonderful festive day (or evening) out, and can be a big boost for businesses on the same street.
‘Christmas Wednesdays’ at Columbia Road, London (image source: London Cheapo)
Columbia Road in East London doesn’t exactly struggle for footfall thanks to it’s ever-popular Sunday flower market. But its ‘Christmas Wednesdays’, which run throughout December, are perhaps even more popular. The independent shops and cafes on the street serve up mulled wine and mince pies, and a piano is rolled into the middle for carols.
Don’t feel you have to wait for Christmas, though! There’s plenty of scope to run this kind of event throughout the year, you’ll just have to get a little creative with the theme.
5. Set up Google my business
Sometimes it’s easy to get carried away with creative solutions to getting more footfall, and forget about the more obvious ones.
Setting up Google My Business is one such solution. Having this correctly configured means customers will be able to find your address quickly (essential), and also gives the option for customers to leave your business reviews.
Outside of Google, make sure your address is clear and obvious on any social media platforms you use.
6. Host events
By day, your store is a store. But what could the space be used for in the evening? It’s time to get your creative hat back on.
Ribbons and Taylor is a lovely cafe on the popular Church Street in Stoke Newington, UK. But with over seven other cafes on the same street, they’ve found a way to stand out from the crowd: comedy nights!
In terms of boosting footfall, you’re playing the long game by hosting events. You’re essentially hoping that anyone attending the event who wasn’t previously aware of your store will come back to it.
It’s not a ‘quick fix’ solution, but it can definitely be an effective one. If all goes well, it can even become a serious extra income stream.
7. Offer click and collect
If you have an ecommerce store alongside your brick and mortar one, be sure to enable click and collect. Local customers will be happy to have the chance to secure their items and sidestep delivery costs, and they may well pick up another item while they’re in the store.
8. Play music
Customers find silent stores unnerving. 90% would choose a store that plays music over one that doesn’t.
You can’t always control how busy your store is, but you can control how it sounds. And there’s science behind the type of music you choose, too, and how loud you play it. Just think about the last bookshop you went into — we’re willing to bet it wasn’t blasting out dance music!
In short, the faster the tempo and the louder the sound, the less time customers will stay in your store. Slower, softer music encourages people to browse more slowly.
9. Invest in your employees
A busy, friendly-looking employee is far more likely to attract customers into your store than one who looks bored and distracted.
So invest in your employees, and in making your store a fun place to work. Offer above the legal minimums in terms of salary and benefits, involve them in decisions, and make sure they have plenty of side tasks to carry out in quieter periods.
10. Space out your store
With so many great brands to choose from when stocking your store, it can be hard to narrow it down (trust us, we know!). But if you’re not careful, your store can end up overstocked and cramped.
A cramped store is less enjoyable to browse, and also less inviting to enter in the first place. If you’re not careful, you could also be excluding customers with mobility aids, wheelchairs or pushchairs.
And with COVID-19 still present, and the memory of strict social distancing still strong, you’ll find people are happier shopping in spaces where they can keep their distance.
11. Create something instagrammable
Whether it’s a picturesque storefront or a motivational quote captured in a neon light, having an ‘instagrammable’ store (or part of a store) is like free advertising for your site.
Wrapping it up
Footfall is a challenge for businesses big and small, new and established — so don’t feel bad if it’s something you’re struggling with at the moment! The key is not to give up; keep trying new things, keep impressing customers with your service, and the results will follow.
And remember, you have a great community of small businesses here to turn to for support. If you’d like some advice, or you have a top tip to share, reach out in the comments below.