How high street businesses can combat declining footfall

In an e-commerce dominated world, the future for some high street businesses has been left uncertain.

Recent statistics indicate that 6,000 shops closed in 2017, with the likes of fashion retailers, shoe shops, travel agents and estate agents being driven out by the rise in internet shopping.

However, this doesn’t mean that all hope is lost for high street stores, but rather new strategies should be implemented to encourage increased footfall. With this in mind, here’s how high street business can start to bring in more customers.

Hold In-Store Promotional Events

Holding in-store events regularly is a great solution for developing brand awareness and driving foot traffic. This can be achieved through inviting customers to attend and hopefully thus generating loyalty and encourage influencers to write positively and so establish more credibility for your brand.

Inviting Influencers

Inviting online influencers to in-store events is an effective way of generating brand awareness and credibility. It is estimated that 49% of consumers rely on influencers – that’s nearly half of all potential customers. Online influencers, particularly fashion bloggers, have become key individuals within the fashion industry. As they have developed their following, more brands have started to capitalise on their influence and collaborated with them for events, advertising campaigns etc.

When creating an influencer campaign its overall success will depend on your planning. Start by collating a database of relevant influencers and including their URL, website rankings and contact information. Websites such as Bloglovin and Tots 100 have databases full of bloggers who are specific for particular industries. Perhaps you could organise an early access launch for your latest collections in exchange for a review? Or, ask if they’d like to model them?

Using bloggers with a great number of followers will help to generate new customers and also develop brand awareness. Once you have started to develop relationships with bloggers, you could look into having brand ambassadors who can write about your business on a regular basis to encourage brand loyalty.

ModCloth Clothing collaborated with bloggers through their ‘Blogger of the Moment’ campaign. This involved showcasing fashion influencers on their blog to generate awareness and brand loyalty. The campaign allowed the ‘Bloggers of the Moment’ to suggest other accessories to complement their namesake dresses and pick their favourite pieces. The bloggers involved then wrote reviews in exchange for their dresses which generated interest from their followers.

Inviting Customers

As well as inviting influencers to in-store events, you can also invite customers. This is an effective way to make customers feel valued, increasing their chances of purchasing from you whilst at the event and again in the future.

The Body Shop have used email marketing campaigns to advertise their in-store event to customers which is aimed at promoting their new body care collection. Anyone who wishes to participate in their event simply completes a survey form for a chance to receive an invitation. The event incentivises customers further by offering additional perks such as personalised consultations, goody bags, expert tips and the option to bring along a guest. Holding this event will make attendees feel valued; making them more likely to purchase products at the event and recommend their products to others.

Add Kerb-Side Extras

Although placing physical signage outside a store might seem an outdated method, 74% of consumers in a study conducted by L&H Signs said they have entered a store they have never visited before based on its exterior advertising, whilst a further 68% of consumers believe signage reflects the quality of a product or a service.

Creating personalised signs for outside your store will help to showcase your product or service to passers-by before they have reached your store. Try to include witty messages that are bound to attract attention: be sure to list prices and any promotional offers too.

Apart from increasing your kerb appeal, signs can also provide excellent social media content. Vinnie’s Pizzeria has become world famous through their ‘special bordes’ (boards) campaign, which involves advertising their daily specials through puns based on film, video game and TV references.

Co-owner Sean Berthiaume has been designing the boards since 2010 and has created over 700. Their famous boards have become a hit across the internet, having been featured on news outlets such as Buzzfeed, Huffington Post and Time Magazine. They’ve also had several TV interviews and have created a website and social media accounts dedicated to sharing their creations. This a perfect example of how physical signage can still be used as an effective marketing tool.

Get Listed Online

Despite online being part of the problem of the struggle faced by high street businesses it can, and should be, part of the solution. Getting yourself listed online is one of the most effective methods of driving in-store sales through online advertising.

Research studies show that 81% of consumers research products online before purchasing in store, so connecting the online to offline journey has never been more important; focusing on one is no longer enough. Furthermore, the constant shifts within industry trends is causing consumer demand to fluctuate – we expect to access the same information whether we are searching on a mobile device or browsing in a high street shop.

When shoppers search for a store name or category online, they expect to receive a phone number they can easily click-to-call, a map with directions to their closest store and even special offers that match to their location and the time of day. This is where Google My Business comes in.

Google My Business is crucial for local search engine optimisation (SEO) and therefore driving foot traffic into your store. It provides your business with further visibility for location-based SEO searches on a search engine results page (SERP). Be sure to list your business name, high-resolution imagery, phone number, opening times and any additional information that could benefit potential customers.

Disney Store in Oxford Street have used Google My Business to help their store stand out to those researching their business online. Any local searchers who wanted to take advantage of any limited time in-store sales that were featured online can find their closest store, forming a complete connection between the offline and online journey. Disney have also taken it a step further by featuring reviews to ensure this particular store displays its rating of providing outstanding service.

Offer Click-and-collect

If you’re already selling online, great, but are you offering a click-and-collect service for orders? This is an alternative for customers getting orders delivered to their home/work address which is not always convenient.

Although customers wanting to go and physically collect an order seems unlikely, it is becoming a preferred method for a segment of consumers. A previous study on whether online shopping is driving consumers into stores found that 50% of participants had opted for in-store pick up, and of those consumers, 45% bought something else during their trip to the store. Failing to provide a click-and-collect service could be costing you a significant number of opportunities to upsell.

Make sure to advertise your click-and-collect service clearly on your website otherwise this could cause potential consumers to abandon their purchases. Schuh advertises its click-and-collect service clearly by allowing their customers to check stock availability in their local store for individual products and also advises how quickly they can collect their orders.

You can also advertise your click-and-collect offering in your existing marketing. For example, Paperchase advertise their click-and-collect offering through their email marketing campaigns. They also feature a 15% off voucher that can be used in store to incentivise customers to spend more in store when they collect their order.

Investing in foot traffic is essential for ensuring your store is able to compete with the world of online shopping. However, this doesn’t mean the internet shouldn’t be used as part of your strategy. By marketing your bricks-and-mortar business to an online audience, you can be sure to increase your brand awareness, your customer profile and ultimately increase your sales. Implementing an entirely new marketing strategy can be time consuming and costly for smaller businesses, but you can utilise a business credit card alternative from Liberis to gain access to a short-term cash injection to get yourself up and running.