How to Increase Walk-ins in Your Retail Store: 10 Ideas to Drive Footfall

Time to Get Ahead with Store Sales Online and offline

Francesca Nicasio • October 20, 2021 

If you’re a brick-and-mortar merchant, we’re willing to bet that you’re constantly cooking up ways on how to increase walk-ins in your retail store.  After all, more visitors lead to more opportunities to drive sales, which means a higher bottom line and healthier business overall.

But how exactly can you drive footfall to your retail location?

To answer that, we’ve compiled 10 ideas and examples for how to increase retail footfall. Go through them and try to incorporate these pointers in your retail marketing strategy.

1. Keep up with the seasons — and pop culture

Nothing keeps people away more than a stale and outdated store, so if you’re looking to increase footfall, one of the first things you should do is freshen up your windows and in-store displays.

Give people new and relevant reasons to check out your store. You can do that by incorporating trendy and seasonal elements into your displays.

Keep up with the seasons

If people are gearing up for the back-to-school season, make sure your store visuals reflect that. Or, if a particular season is in full swing, come up with relevant themes to use in your displays.

Take Pink Pointes Dancewear, a UK-based dance shop. A while back, Laura Watkins, the owner of the store, decided to use autumn as inspiration for her store’s display. 

“When I first took over running our shop the new Bloch Militare boot has just come out. It’s a split sole dance shoe but looks like a boot,” she recalled.

“It happened to be September and the leaves were beginning to change so I made a display with hundreds of leaves in beautiful autumnal colors and this pair of boots on top as they looked like Dr. Matens and great for stomping in piles of leaves.”

According to Laura, the effort was a success, and several people walked in complimenting it. 

Consider pop culture or current events

Depending on your products and customers, you could even incorporate pop culture into your displays.

The jewelry retailer Alex and Ani did this really well when the famous HBO series Game of Thrones was still on the air. During the final season, Alex and Ani launched a Game of Thrones jewelry line, and heavily promoted it in-store. 

In addition to having a prominent in-store display, Alex and Ani dedicated its entire window to the Game of Thrones theme and even set up special signage to draw people in.

Consider doing something similar in your location. When cooking up ideas for what to showcase, go beyond traditional seasons and big holidays. Instead, turn to current events and pop culture to see if you can use those themes in your shop’s look and feel.

Bonus tip: keep displays simple and on-brand

No matter the type of display, be sure to keep it simple and on-brand. This is particularly important for window displays, says retail consultant and expert, Oliver Banks.

“Too often, I see windows which are far too overloaded and are great at bamboozling customers. Blending a random product assortment, multiple messages and promotions across a blend of stickers and signage and off-brand colours and fonts lead to an assault on someone’s senses.”

He continues, “All together — it’s an ultimately confusing experience before a customer has walked in the door. In turn, the footfall that you have on your street is not going to be tempted to walk over the threshold.”

The key takeaway? “Keep windows simple, on-brand, and enticing to convert your passers-by into visitors.”

2. Use eye-grabbing signage

If your shop is in a busy location filled with distracted shoppers or if people aren’t stopping to look at your windows, try adding additional elements to grab their attention.

Our suggestion? Use signage. It’s simple, affordable, and effective. The key is to choose signs that pop. To do that, you need to go beyond just sticking a “SALE” poster on your door or window.

Like Alex and Ani (mentioned above), you could set up a sign right outside your door to advertise your latest products. Another option is to use signs to spotlight any promotions or offers that you’re running.

Turn your attention to this example from Eleven Optical, an eyewear retailer in Artesia, CA. When the store was offering free lenses, it advertised the promotion using a sandwich board that was positioned perpendicular to its windows. This made the sign harder to ignore and encouraged passers-by to take another look at the store.

3. Invite influencers or experts 

Driving foot traffic isn’t easy and sometimes you need to bring in outside reinforcements to draw in the crowds.

One way to do this is to invite influencers or experts to your store. Many independent bookstores have used this strategy to tremendous success. Take Vroman’s, Southern California’s oldest independent bookstore. Vroman’s regularly hosts book signings and events featuring different authors, and these efforts attract more visitors to its location.

Vroman’s even found a clever way to drive book sales during these functions. While the author events are free, guests are required to purchase the author’s book from Vroman’s if they want a signed copy.h

See if you can implement a similar strategy. Are there any experts or influencers that you could invite to your store? Perhaps you could team up with a local celebrity to conduct a talk or teach a class.

And just like at Vroman’s, there might even be monetization opportunities in these events — whether it’s from VIP tickets or autograph signings.

4. Market to existing customers 

Having brand new customers walking through your doors is always exciting, but increasing footfall isn’t just about driving traffic from new shoppers. You should also strive to get existing customers to come back.

You’ll find that your current customer base is a much more profitable source of traffic because these individuals are easier to convert.

Tell shoppers how much you miss them

How can you drive traffic from existing patrons? One effective tactic is to send re-engagement messages. Tell those who haven’t stopped by in a while how much you miss them, then throw in a promotion to get them to come back.

Have a look at this example from the dessert store Snowflakes, which sends text messages to shoppers who haven’t dropped by in a while. 

Be smart about timing

Another option is to send outreach messages based on the timing of the customer’s last purchase. This method can be incredibly effective if you’re selling consumable goods that need to be re-purchased or re-plenshished regularly.

The key to making this work is to figure out how often your products are re-purchased. If you’re selling cosmetics, for example, you need to know how long a bottle of foundation typically lasts. From there, you can set up an outreach schedule where you contact customers to remind them to come back and repurchase.

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