5 fool-proof ways to increase footfall in retail 

If you're looking for more ways to get shoppers through the door then be sure to try out these five ways to increase footfall in retail.

Written by

Robert Woo, Writer @ Endear


As the world recovers from the pandemic lockdown, retailers have been fighting to bring back shoppers into their brick & mortar stores. Some industries have been hit harder than others. For example, compared to 2019, footfall for all apparel stores was down 5% in 2021. Recovery has been slow, and for some unlucky retailers, stagnant.

And yet, surveys show that over 60% of shoppers prefer to shop in-store for various reasons including immediate access to products, avoiding delivery fees, and trying before buying.

The desire is there! People want to be inside stores again. And it’s up to the retailers to make a compelling case as to why they should come back. Let’s dive into five ways to increase footfall in retail stores in 2022.

1. Make in-store pickup and in-store returns a focal point of your business

At this point in ecommerce history, we’ve all become fairly accustomed to getting products delivered. Likewise, we’re all probably also accustomed to something going wrong with our delivery. Be it porch thieves, wrong items, broken products, or just plain late arrivals; delivery is not the retail panacea that shoppers thought it might be.

In fact, 1 out of 20 online orders never make it to their destination. And the cost of failed deliveries? It’s estimated to be over $250,000 per retailer! This is a large part of why 48% of shoppers prefer to shop in-person if given the choice. This is exactly why your business should make “click-and-collect,” also known as “buy online, pick up in-store” (BOPIS), a top priority this season.

The ability to buy online but pick up the order at a physical store not only drives footfall, but provides an elevated experience to customers that are actively looking for an in-store experience. This provides a service to them, while providing upselling opportunities to your sales associates. How much of an upselling opportunity? 45% of shoppers choosing in-store pickup bought something else during that trip.

Similarly, in-store returns achieve the same effect of increasing foot traffic, providing a wanted service, and offering the opportunity to upsell. Again, 53% of customers making a return ended up purchasing additional, unplanned items.

Make these in-store services a focal point of your marketing. Using your retail CRM, you can target customers who have mailed in returns previously, and message them with a coupon to use the next time they might try an in-store return.

2. Lean into the Omnichannel retail experience

We mentioned the “click-and-collect” option above to boost footfall in your retail stores, and this concept is just one part of the Omnichannel retail experience that your business should embrace in 2022.

Omnichannel retail refers to the process of enabling all of your channels to work in conjunction to deliver a complete retail journey for your customers, from discovery through to fulfillment, and even to returns. For example, Emily might browse your store’s website for a scarf, then get a targeted text message about scarves while she’s out to lunch, and then be greeted by a sales associate who knows her browsing history when she walks into a store to make a purchase.

According to the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC), “88% of shoppers prefer retailers who have both physical stores and a robust online presence,” and the businesses that can seamlessly flow shoppers from online to the store and vice versa have seen improved sales numbers.

This is a reason why many retail locations have installed “Instagrammable” areas in their stores. The social content that customers create gets viewed across their channels, which brings in more shoppers to that location. It’s a fun way to make Omnichannel retail engaging and effective to bring in more footfall.

See how Alexis Bittar uses Omnichannel marketing to boost their business

3. Utilize highly-targeted promotions that draw in high AOV customers

Suggesting that your business should use promotions that customers can redeem in-store is… pretty obvious. Rather, let’s focus on two key data points to maximize these types of promotions: 1) targeting your customers with high Average Order Values (AOV), and 2) getting them to bring their friends.

If you’re going to increase your footfall, wouldn’t you want those customers to spend more as well? With limited time and resources to put promotions together, targeting your high AOV customers is your best bang for your marketing buck. Your retail CRM can show you the customers who have spent the most in a given period of time. Couple that data with those who reside in the nearest zip codes, and you immediately have a targeted list of who you want to draw into your store.

Then our next data point: 64% of shoppers say they spend more when shopping with friends. Over the course of one year, women who shop with friends spent up to $1200 more than those who shopped alone.

You’ve gotta love data-driven promotions like this! Target your high AOV shoppers with either refer-a-friend promotions, or bring-a-friend promotions and reap the benefits of the metrics already in your retail CRM. Not only will these friend-promotions bring in more footfall, but increase the overall spending in-store as well.

4. Foster communities in your stores to “eventize” shopping

Lululemon hosts yoga classes in their stores. So does Gym+Coffee. These retailers have learned that fostering a local community that meets at their store not only boosts sales, but evangelizes their brand through word-of-mouth, bringing in even more traffic.

As we emerge from lockdown, people are looking to engage in these types of communities. Your business can position itself as a sort of “community hub” by offering a group event. But what event is right for your customers?

Again, turning to your CRM data can help you correctly “eventize” your retail locations. For example, a cosmetics retailer might see that a few local high schools are hosting their Spring Formals in April. Promoting a Spring Formal Makeup Tutorial Mixer and targeting the young women (as well as their parents) in your CRM can make it a must-attend event.

Don’t be afraid of pushing out of your brand’s “comfort zone” either. Faherty, a clothing brand, hosts intimate concerts and dinners to foster their community. Who says your store can’t have live music, or a comedy night, or a singles mixer? Check your retail CRM for a demographic you want to target and get creative coming up with your next in-store event.

5. Start clienteling to give customers a reason to come back

Sorry, we’re not going to stop banging the drum around clienteling, for the simple fact that it works, increasing retention rates of your highest AOV customers by as much as 200%. It is also increasingly what sets retail locations apart from ecommerce, offering a personalized shopping experience that clicking on a website simply can’t match. In short, clienteling is the future of retail.

One way clienteling helps to increase footfall in retail is to give your customers reasons to come back into your store. We recently wrote a whitepaper with Glossy about this specific topic, showing that retaining customers is the lowest hanging fruit to improve your bottom line.

For example, a clienteling experience usually involves offering personalized in-store appointments to your top clients. Providing an experience similar to a personal shopper is a powerful way to earn loyalty, and furthermore, 64% of shoppers say they spend more on products after in-person appointments. Even a 15-minute appointment can go a long way to create return customers; those who come in more frequently and spend more as well.