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How To Increase Retail Foot Traffic with Technology

Posted by Amanda McLaughlin on Oct 21, 2021

We see predictions regularly about the future of the retail store. The convenience of online ordering, paired with next-day or even same-day deliveries, has been seen by some observers as a death sentence for retailers. Plus, there is the low overheads of digital native businesses.

It has therefore surprised many people—not us, though—that the pandemic may be a catalyst for good for stores. Consumers are desperate for real-world interaction, replacing the impersonal online experiences of the last 18 months. While stores and malls still face challenges in terms of attracting customers, they can improve retail foot traffic with wise investment in technology.

The Endless Aisle

In terms of how to increase foot traffic in retail with technology, the “endless aisle” should be a primary consideration. This term describes making all inventory available for sale, empowering customers and/or store associates to find and purchase the perfect item even if it’s not on the shelves. Customers unable to find their exact color or size can determine if their item is in another store, in a distribution center for next-day delivery, or currently on its way back into stock. 

As we’ll see in the next section, ordering online doesn’t have to curtail the brick-and-mortar shopping experience. It’s better for a brand to secure customers through these alternative channels than risk people walking out and buying a rival product elsewhere.

The endless aisle can also benefit bespoke services. A modular furniture store could display a supersized corner unit beside a tablet displaying a “build your own” app for smaller solutions. Customers can be guided through the app by a staff member, selecting how many drawers they need or how high they’d like their cabinet to be. Similar services are available online, but customers often feel more confident completing a purchase with an expert guiding them through each step. Display items could also demonstrate the benefits of upsold extras like soft-closing drawers, pull-out fabric storage baskets, etc.

(Want to see how endless aisle is done with NewStore? Check out the quick video here!)

The BOPIS and BORIS Experience

Two acronyms have entered the retail lexicon in recent years: BOPIS (buy online pickup in-store) and BORIS (buy online return in-store). Both define the process of buying an item online and then either picking up or returning the item at a brick-and-mortar location. Returns are an inevitable part of sales, yet they can boost profits. A customer who enters your store will be exposed to products and services which might be more relevant or suitable than the item they’re bringing back.

The BOPIS model encourages spontaneous additional purchases as people pick up their items. It gives empowered store staff the chance to upsell anything from sports accessories to matching jewelry, as well as chatting about complementary goods and services that might be useful in the future. Plus, boosting foot traffic creates a natural buzz of activity that always looks enticing to passers-by. Never underestimate people’s FOMO—the fear of missing out.

Quick Change

Another way to increase retail foot traffic is by simplifying the checkout process. Online retailers have capitalized on the appeal of quick-pay options, and stores need to do the same. 

Contactless payments are ideal in today’s post-pandemic society, minimizing staff interaction while accelerating the checkout process. People are often happy to take their time browsing, but payment delays quickly begin to sour an otherwise positive experience.

Contactless payment also dovetails well with self-checkout facilities, which are increasingly dependable thanks to ongoing investment in automated checkout technology. The days of unexpected items in the bagging area are mercifully receding. In turn, there is confidence that people can complete purchases independently if they want to.

A New Reality

Stores are increasingly being re-imagined as experience destinations, following Apple’s lead in developing drop-in centers populated by brand-evangelist gurus. And what better in-store experience can a retailer offer than an immersive one involving virtual reality headsets?

With the AR and VR markets in the retail sector expected to be worth $1.6 billion by 2025, forward-thinking brands are already introducing this technology to entice consumers. After all, few of us have VR headsets at home, and VR rookies often prefer having some expert oversight.

Being able to experience a test-drive from within a car showroom or “try on” skis without lacing up boots does more than instill reassurance about an item’s suitability. It creates a memorable experience, which in-store staff can curate and optimize.

Making Sense of Retail Foot Traffic Statistics

It’s worth noting that increasing retail foot traffic has tangential benefits. Customers feel more confident entering a busy store than an empty one. There’s also an element of FOMO that may also attract passers-by into a popular location. Knowing how to increase foot traffic in retail with technology is vitally important. 

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