Guide for retail store owners
Any retail store owner knows that the success of their business relies on a combination of repeat and new customers. One very important way of expanding your store’s customer base is to increase your footfall traffic by encouraging passersby in the mall or retail store complex to enter your store.
This article will focus on tips for store owners, in terms of determining your current footfall traffic and then increasing footfall traffic figures. It also explains the driving forces behind footfall traffic and gives insight into what footfall reports are.
The facts about retail foot traffic
Currently, U.S. shopping-center retail sales total more than $2.26 trillion, accounting for over half of all retail sales (ICSC). In the UK, figures point to a similar pattern: a significant portion of commerce is taking place inside shopping centres and the brick-and-mortar storefronts contained within them.The key to increasing footfall and conversions is to understand consumers’ purchasing patterns.
Bruno Berthezene, UK manager for the SoLocal Group, notes that “83% of purchases are made in-store with 88%of customers researching the product or service online beforehand. In other words, around 70% of the purchases can be put in the “Research Online Purchase Offline” category”. In other words, to maximise footfall and the resulting conversions, your store must have a solid online presence with easy-to-access and up-to-date inventory as well as information regarding a store’s location (street address and/or level of mall).
When asking yourself what drives footfall, please keep in mind that footfall is dictated not only by your merchandising and storefront signage. The process of getting customers to enter your store and make a purchase often begins online.
Analysing footfall and conversions
Now that you know some of the factors influencing your footfall and conversions, you must determine the best way for your store or shopping centre to capture these metrics. You may already know that many large businesses are using footfall systems in order to determine their footfall traffic and conversion ratios, but what exactly does that mean?
Footfall systems are ways of capturing footfall figures. Footfall is counted by a variety of methods including sensors and infrared lasers placed in doorways, or cameras placed at entry points to stores or shopping centres. Footfall software can help to generate reports tracking the number of conversions against the number of prospective customers entering your retail store or shopping centre.
A footfall report can provide data according to your own search criteria. Filters could include: year-on-year trends, monthly changes in foot traffic, busiest days of the month and times of day, as well as footfall comparisons by location. These location comparisons can be particularly useful for large retail chains, in order to determine how best to allocate their marketing budget according to which location is busiest in a particular area. Footfall figures for shopping centres can also help guide the decisions of prospective tenants. For instance, if New Balance is looking to open a new retail storefront, they would likely want access to any footfall analysis that had been performed on that shopping centre.
So, what drives footfall?
Given all the information provided above, it is clear that having a footfall system in place to capture footfall data and perform footfall analysis is of the utmost importance. This is true for a variety of reasons, including the fact that retailers might want to compare the performance (footfall to conversion ratio) of various locations, and also that retailers want to know how their store performs at various times of the day, month and year in order to plan their staffing requirements and marketing strategies. Having a good footfall system in place gives retailers the freedom to maximise on profits while better understanding the wants and needs of their customers.
In short, businesses should first ensure that they have a solid online presence and then choose a high traffic storefront location in order to best increase their footfall traffic and conversion ratios. Finally, they should always use a footfall system to capture data regarding their footfall traffic.