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9 Ways to Increase Foot Traffic for Retailers and Small Businesses

Getting customers in the door is a challenge for most brick and mortar retailers. Customers aren’t going to leave their homes to visit a physical store unless the company is offering them something they can’t get online. And that something needs to be relevant to the customer’s lifestyle and shopping patterns. In fact, relevance is the most overlooked component to success in retailer efforts to increase foot traffic. The following 10 tips will help your store increase foot traffic by catering offerings to customer demand

1. Add a personal touch

Why do you think fine dining chefs walk around and introduce themselves to everyone at the restaurant? People want to connect with the person behind the scenes. Connecting to your customers will humanize your brand, but it needn’t always be done in person. Respond to Instagram photos and customer posts on social media to connect with your customers in a time efficient way. Also, regularly post photos of your offerings that portray the lifestyle marketed by your brand, and offer prizes for the best customer photos of your product.

2. Get that local flavor

Make products relevant to customer locales is pivotal to boosting foot traffic in your store. Make a calendar of major music, culture and sporting events near your store and narrow the list down by which local events cater to your customer base. In other words, a sporting goods store probably shouldn’t throw an event based on a ballet production, but could definitely increase visibility by sponsoring the local 5k. From there, pick a few events to use as focal points for your store’s philanthropy, store events, or promotions.

3. Seasonal Marketing

Seasonal marketing is an easy way to personalize your offerings for your customer base. Whether your store is exposed to all four seasons or the temperature only drops 10 degrees during the cold months, there’s opportunity to connect with your customers through shared experience via signage and promotions. Offer fun seasonal discounts, such as, “10 percent off if you come wearing earmuffs,” or “free coffee to anyone who shows us their umbrella!”

4. Keep ‘em coming back

Customers expect to be rewarded for their loyalty. No matter the size of your store, some sort of loyalty reward program is imperative to show your customers that you value their business. Customer relationship management software (CRM), similar to the loyalty program builder and communications automation technology offered by Thirdshelf can help to track and identify the results of your loyalty programs to maximize the traction of your marketing spend. This shows you areas that are working and areas where you can to improve.

5. Throw in freebies

If you feed them they will come and if you give them something for free they will spend. Time Magazine lists 5 reasons why customers spend more when you give stuff away. The list includes whhen customers get something for free they’ll pay more for it later, and that people talk about freebies more than anything else. Whether you’re offering samples of your newest hand lotion or free appetizers at a store event, giveaways immediately increase foot traffic and make a lasting impact on your customers.

6. Create an experience

Since millennials value experiences over the things, it follows that to sell things to millennials, retailers need to tap into experience. In 2015 more than 3 out of 4 millennials said they would rather spend money on an experience than accruing more things. With that said, even the most frugal shopper will make a purchase as a reminder of a one-of-a-kind in store experience.

7. Be Disruptive

You can only create foot traffic in a market of breakneck retail evolution by adopting a business model that’s as disruptive as the market itself. Fashion trucks and pop-up shops generate enthusiasm due to their transient nature. The “get it before it’s gone” mentality generates the excitement that most customers find lacking in traditional department stores. Social media marketing is huge for mobile retail, so customers know where to find you and a bit about your offerings. And if you think big companies can’t pull off a disruptive retail model, check out what Zappos is doing with their “Friends With Benefits” roadshow.

8. Build a community

Most retailers cater to consumers with a shared interest, whether you are a home goods store with customers who love to cook, or you sell apparel to Instagram-obsessed teens, there’s an opportunity to bring your customers together over a shared interest. By offering your customers relaxing social spaces and online forums to voice share their experiences, you can create a community in which a love for your brand is the unifying thread.

9. Teach your customers

Shared interest can also be utilized to create foot traffic by offering your customers classes or seminars on topics related to your products. For instance, outdoor retailer REI is famous for the hiking and camping events they facilitate for their customers. Once you realize what lifestyle you’re selling with your inventory, you’ll have a better understanding of what type of education you can offer customers to get them in the door.

10. It comes down to people

Of course, the most thoughtful marketing initiatives don’t count for anything if your customers are greeted by a rude or poorly-trained staff. Know your employees’ strengths and weakness. If you aren’t able to spend much time at your store’s physical locations, invest in a staff augmentation platform like the insights you can get from Dor for hour by hour data that will help you make informed staffing decisions.

The US Census Bureau reported that ecommerce counted for only 8.3% of total retail sales in the fourth quarter of 2016. Since most purchases still take place in brick and mortar stores, it’s imperative that retailers cater promotions and marketing to individual customers to boost foot traffic and maximize marketing spend.


Jasmine Glasheen is a Freelance Writer and Retail Strategist. A panelist on RetailWire’s BrainTrust, Jasmine has been published on Retailwire, Independent Retailer, CART, and many others. She was formerly the editor of Off-Price Retailing magazine and has been quoted both in Forbes and in RetailDive. When she’s not at her keyboard, you’ll find her guzzling kombucha or dancing like a maniac. LinkedIn | Twitter

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How Digital Natives are Changing Retail

Large retailers everywhere are closing their stores as online shopping takes over. It’s no coincidence that this is happening as millennials start to reach their prime working and spending years. Millennials are the first generation to be brought up with technology always available for their use, and this has changed the way that millennials shop and consume compared to previous generations. It’s become clear that digital natives are changing the retail world and the way we shop.

What is a digital native?

A “digital native” is a person born or brought up during the age of digital technology and are therefore familiar technology such as computers, the Internet, and mobile technology from an early age. Digital natives were born into a new culture in which the generations before them are still struggling to understand. Books have been replaced by Kindles, phone calls have replaced with FaceTime, and now retail stores are being replaced with eCommerce and online shopping.

What is the difference between a digital native and a “digital immigrant”?

While digital natives were born into and are familiar with the world of technology, digital immigrants are people born before the advent of digital technology. One of the biggest issues that lie between digital natives versus digital immigrants is their immensely different worldviews. Digital natives are generally targeted as lazy and technology-obsessed, where digital immigrants believe that they had to work harder for what they have now, and value human connections more than the generation that believes text messages a completely acceptable way to communicate.

Marc Prensky, author of “Teaching Digital Natives” states, “People adapt instinctively and humans are very good at that. The young people live in the context; the older people see the changing context and struggle.” The reason that there is such a divide between digital natives and digital immigrants is that while the millennials look at technology as a positive influence on their daily lives, older generations tend to look at technology more negatively.

Millennials changing how we shop

Millennials and the generation of digital natives have changed the way we consume. We have grown accustomed to having instant access to everything we need, whether that is movies, books, music, and now we are seeing the same trend in shopping. While online shopping and eCommerce isn’t necessarily new, it is now starting to affect retailers. Over the last year, many “big-box” retailers have begun closing stores because they are doing more business online. There are a number of ways that digital natives are attributing to this change.

One of the ways that millennials are changing the way we shop is that they value convenience and flexibility. Digital natives are realizing that with more advanced technology, there is no longer as strong of a need to travel to a mall or store to make purchases. Being able to make purchases online from the comfort of their home in more convenient for digital natives, and they don’t want to be bothered with shopping in a physical store.

How digital natives shop in-store

We talked about the way digital natives do their shopping online, but let’s talk about how they’re doing their in-store shopping. Something that separates the way millennials shop compared to older generations is that they value experiences and authenticity over items and brands. Previous generations held more value to owning brand-name items, whereas millennials value being rewarded for store loyalty and a unique experience when shopping in-store.

Another way they digital natives are doing their in-store shopping is with “showrooming”. Showrooming is a technique that retailers have adopted to appeal to digital natives’ new way of shopping. Rather than browsing the store for items and purchasing them at the store, millennials are finding items they like in-store and then searching for the item and making their purchase online for a cheaper price.

This is showrooming. It sounds rather ridiculous. If you’re at the store, why wouldn’t you just buy the item there? But this is a real thing. In fact, 71% of shoppers believe they will get a better deal online than in stores, according to nChannel. Large online retailers such as Amazon and Overstock.com make it possible for digital natives to find brand-name items at a cheaper price.

On the flip side of this, nChannel has also found that two-thirds of eCommerce customers are “web rooming”. Webrooming is simply the opposite of showrooming, in that customers will browse a retail store’s online site before going to the store and making a purchase. Again, if you’ve already found the item you need online, why wouldn’t you purchase it there? This can be more simply answered in that sometimes people want to try on an item or touch and feel an item before making the purchase. This leads to a whole new level of technology that is making its way into the retail world.

What retail tech might digital natives be more open to?

Based on the shopping trends of digital natives, it’s easy to predict a big spike in technology in the retail space. In terms of convenience, we’re already seeing an increase in self-checkout, mobile payments, or mobile self-checkout apps. Since millennials have their phones practically glued to their hands, NFC payments such as Apple Pay and Samsung Pay are guaranteed to see more adaption in retail stores.

Another technology we can look forward to in the future of retail is virtual reality. Remember when we were talking about webrooming? Imagine browsing the web for a new top and being able to virtually try it on right there in your home.

When thinking about how digital natives will drive the future of retail, it is important to remember that convenience and experience are key in the development of retail technology.


Brianna Moriarty is the Marketing Communications Associate for Star Micronics with a focus in content creation and social media marketing. She frequently writes content to help small businesses build their marketing strategy and social media presence. Outside of her writing, Brianna enjoys traveling, music, fitness, and lots of coffee. LinkedIn | Twitter.

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Social Media Trends for Small Business

Small to medium-sized businesses (SMB) and specialty retailers are on the rise. Over the past year, there have been huge shifts in the retail industry with large, “big-box” retail stores closing and online or discount retailers growing stronger. In order to stay on top, these small businesses need to find new and unique ways to market their business and keep up with growing marketing strategies. Social media has proved to be one of the most effective marketing tools for small businesses. Here are four social media trends for small businesses to pay attention to.

1. Video Content

Video content is taking over social media. If you scroll through your Facebook newsfeed, you’ll find that more and more content is video content. Social media has become less about sharing daily life updates and more about sharing the most viral content you can find. Not only is more video content flooding Facebook, but 85% of these videos are being watched without sound. The human attention span is shrinking, and as a business owner or marketer, it is important to keep in mind that you only have a matter of seconds to grab your consumer’s attention. With that said, you also need to find ways to portray your marketing message with no sound.

In addition to Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat are widely known as platforms to promote video content. Since Instagram decided to expand its video time limit to 60 seconds compare to the previous 15 second limit, businesses are taking to “the gram” for more video marketing. Even more recently, Instagram has jumped on the live-streaming bandwagon by introducing Instagram Live.

Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat are all the homes of the social media platforms with the most video content, and they all have one thing in common: live video streams. While Facebook allows users to live-stream, this content continues to exist on Facebook after the live stream ends. The concept of Instagram live is more similar to that of Snapchat where users can go live, but once the live stream ends, the video disappears.

For small businesses, this amazing new feature gives you the ability to see who is actively following you on social media rather than putting the content off until later. For retailers specifically, this is a strategic option for flash sales, one-time giveaways, etc. Like Instagram Live, Snapchat gives small businesses a way to see who is actively following them, and an opportunity to interact directly and personally with their followers. What better way to announce the restock of your most popular item or a one day sale for loyal shoppers than to send out a quick snap?

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2. Visual Storytelling

As mentioned, the average attention span is getting shorter, and marketers are looking for new and unique ways to grab their audience’s attention. Consumers are getting their information less through written blogs or eBooks and more through digital content such as photos and video. With the growth of visual-based social media platforms such as Instagram and Pintrest, businesses are now using visual content to build their brand by giving themselves a “brand look”. It has since then been found that branded images and GIFs are powerful pieces of content for small businesses.

Another benefit of using more visually compelling content is having the ability to cater to an individual audience. Being that small business often have a very specific focus, visual storytelling on social media will help these business appeal to their target market. A fashion boutique that sells clothing for young women will want a fashion-forward, trendy Instagram page, whereas a SMB retailer selling home décor may want to put more focus toward their Pinterest page.

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3. Staying Local

Social media marketing has advanced incredibly over the last few years. One of the greatest features offered through social media marketing and advertising is the ability to target posts to a specific audience based on location. When you own a small business, your local community tends to be your best customers.

Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn will allow users to target paid ads to users in your specific area in order to increase the amount of local customers who are buying from you. In addition, there are platforms that allow you to communicate to your followers where you are by adding your location to your Instagram photos, pinning your location on Pintrest, or using geofilter on Snapchat.

While location-based marketing is key for small businesses, location-based listening on social media is extremely useful. Social Media Examiner provides a full list of social listening tools that allow businesses to listen to and engage with customer who are in close proximity to their brick and mortar store. Social listening allows small business owners to listen to their local community without them even knowing it. With this information, small businesses can hear feedback from current customers and find ways to expand their business to appeal to a larger market within their local community.

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4. Go Organic

Social media marketing doesn’t require a large budget! Now more than ever is the time to take advantage of the millennial generation’s authentic mindset, and try stepping away from the paid social media ads. Small businesses tend to have small budgets and cannot invest all of their money into social media. Social Media Today has a simple solution for these businesses:
reduce, reuse, and recycle.

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Reduce

Rather than constantly straining your brain for new content and ideas, create content that can be used in different ways across all of your social platforms. By doing this, you can get away with creating new content less often.

Reuse

Make sure your content will not go stale too quickly. Work to create timeless content that you can reuse over and over again that will spark the interest of your followers every time.

Recycle

While it is important to vary your content across different social media, you can find ways to recycle your content. This means creating one big idea that can be used differently, or that you can take pieces from to promote across separate platforms.

While owning or operating a small business can oftentimes be difficult, marketing your business doesn’t have to be. The first step is simply creating your social media accounts, and make sure to create tons of valuable and shareable content to keep you one step ahead of the competition.


Brianna Moriarty is the Marketing Communications Associate for Star Micronics with a focus on content creation and social media marketing. She frequently writes content to help small businesses build their marketing strategy and social media presence. Outside of her writing, Brianna enjoys traveling, music, fitness, and lots of coffee. LinkedIn | Twitter

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