If you are a bricks-and-mortar shop owner, you will desperately need to increase customer footfall in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Pre-pandemic vs mid-pandemic retail marketing
Before the pandemic, a large proportion of retail footfall marketing spend was on things like signage, merchandising tables, recycled flooring and in-store digital flourishes. Now customers just want to select, collect and pay. This minimises the time they spend in your shop.
The pandemic has changed how we apply customer footfall statistics to marketing plans. Each person entering your premises is less likely to browse because they’re concerned about being inside a shop during a pandemic.
The battle to boost sales starts outside, with footfall marketing.
How to increase footfall
Marketing your shop’s cleanliness and the measures you’ve put in place to help keep your customers safe during the pandemic will help overcome consumers’ hesitation to enter. To help them overcome the psychological impact of the pandemic, your shop needs to look clean both inside and out.
You have 6–7 seconds to influence new customer footfall
In retail footfall marketing, first impressions count. Customers will form a first impression of your shop, window dressing and the cleanliness of the outside of your building within 6–7 seconds. It is widely believed that this is how the average brain compiles first impressions:
From this, you can deduce that, in retail marketing, first impressions are visual. This is why keeping your shop clean is so important during a pandemic – if an individual is frightened about infection, they will only enter exceptionally clean shop premises.
Footfall marketing: How to promote in-store Covid-19 security
You must promote your Covid-19 pandemic awareness by showcasing an exceptionally clean shop floor and showing that you are abiding by government health and safety measures. This needs to be made visually obvious to passers-by.
The pandemic precautions that have become tell-tale signs of Covid-19 security include:
- Adding these posters to your shop window design and walls.
- Ensuring your main window display always includes a contactless payment icon.
- Fitting a Plexiglas partition at the cash desk, and making sure this can be seen from outside your door.
- Adding a hand-sanitising station to your doorway.
- Giving staff brightly coloured branded PPE and name badges.
- Attaching clean, wipeable labels that say ‘sanitised’ to any sanitised products on display, and ensuring these labels can be seen from a distance.
- Ensuring your floor layout is compatible with social distancing, with no bottlenecks.
- Using brightly coloured signage to mark one-way systems and limitations on how many people can be in the store at once.
- Having a staff member watching the door, checking that people sanitise their hands and put on a mask before entering.
On-the-door hospitality, not hostility
Although stationing someone at your door to keep watch on customers to maintain shop cleanliness is a great idea during a pandemic, they will need exceptional customer service and interpersonal skills. If they’re friendly and helpful, they will help to increase footfall. However, staff with an unfriendly tone or attitude can put off entering your shop.
Most of us have seen security-guard-style figures standing by a shop door. If they are barking orders at customers before they enter, they need training or redeploying.
Aim to have somebody with a friendly face who invites everyone to put on their mask and use your sanitising station before they enter. Make sure you reinforce their role by putting a sign on your door asking customers to put on their mask and sanitise their hands at the door. Many shops offer to sell – or even give – disposable masks to customers who have forgotten, lost or broken their masks.
While customers are standing at your sanitising station, whoever is on your door could ask them if they need any help in finding what they’re looking for, and provide the appropriate directions.
The person on your door is so important. We heard of one shop that got it wrong: during the pandemic, staff were over-zealous with customers, insisting that everyone put on a mask before entering. Unfortunately, there was no sign at or near their door to back up their request. This, coupled with the door person being too forceful when customers approached, backfired badly. One disgruntled customer posted on a Facebook community group, and the reputation of this long-standing, helpful shop was damaged.