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Small Business Center

3 Quick Fixes for the Low Traffic Blues

July 24, 2023

By Angel Cicerone, Tenant Mentorship

It’s the number one lament of retail store owners: “I don’t get enough traffic! I get the wrong kind of traffic! The landlord needs to do something to bring more people to this shopping center!” Sound familiar? Well, I hate to break it to you guys, but the landlord isn’t responsible for driving traffic to your store. That’s a job for you, super business owner! So put on your cape. Here are three ways to get the cash register to ring regardless of traffic counts.

Sell More

I’m not being sarcastic here. The very first order of business in a low traffic situation is to sell more to the traffic you do have! Here are some tips for increasing average sale.

Upsell, Upsell, Upsell

If your average sale is $80, for example, reward your sales people for each sale above $120. Teach them how to suggest and recommend. It doesn’t matter what category of business you own or how much traffic may or may not be walking through your door, upselling is the key to sustained growth. If you own a salon, sell a product with each service. In a gym, sell a piece of workout clothing with each membership. At a hardware store, sell the hammer with the nails. You get the picture. Every person that walks in the door is an opportunity. Use a well-trained and incentivized staff to make each visit count!

Bundling and Tiered Pricing

These techniques for increasing average sale are effective, but be careful. We don’t want to use discounting as a substitute for marketing. That being said, certain discounts at certain times on certain items can be designated as marketing or new customer acquisition costs and may be well worth it.

Tiered pricing is simple. By one item at full price, two at 10% off, three at 20% off, etc. Whichever discounts you choose, certain types of products lend themselves to this type of purchasing pattern. Why sell one when you can sell three?

Sometimes no discount is required. You just need to simply tweak the way merchandise is offered. Instead of selling the earrings and the necklace separately, sell them together. If you’re selling T-shirts, package three together. One of my clients was selling individual jars of jam at $4.99 each. That’s crazy. She is now creating combo packages of two and five jars and eliminating the single-jar sales.

Bottom line: If you use discounts wisely and sell complementary products strategically, increasing your average sale can be almost transparent to the customer.

Love on Your Best Customers

Did you know an existing customer will spend 31% more than a new customer? That’s a great reason to start pouring the love on them.

Kick Your Loyalty Program into High Gear

Add a series of new, short-term bonus opportunities:

  • Double points today only.
  • Bring in a friend and you both get double points.
  • Spend at least $__ this week and get a gift certificate to a local restaurant, movie theater, etc.
  • Host a VIP event.

Whether it’s a “first look” at merchandise, cocktails and networking, a class, or a seminar, give your best customers every reason to keep coming back! Just be sure the event is in sync with their interests.

Implement a Quick and Easy Referral Program

Create a quick referral card for your best customers. Ask them to hand them out to five friends —new customers only. The new customer receives a discount, and the existing customer receives a discount or gift each time a card is redeemed.

Bottom line: Leveraging the loyalty of your best customers is an extremely cost-effective way to increase sales.

Invite People

If you want people to come to your house, you invite them. The same principle holds true for your business. Small groups are always looking for new places to meet. Become a host venue for a local book club, a stock investor club, a small PTA meeting, a mommy-and-me event. Search for groups that mirror your ideal customer avatar. For the price of a snack tray, you could easily have a group of new people inside your store each week for a “soft” introduction. While technically it’s not “traffic,” you are getting exposure for your store while building goodwill. Collect emails and create a campaign to nurture these budding prospects into regular customers.

Bottom line: You don’t always need to rely on traditional traffic-generation ideas. Sometimes you can get new people in through the figurative “back door.”

Bonus Tip: Become an “Outsider”

There may very well be passersby outside your store who aren’t beating a path to your door. And there may be a very simple reason for that: They don’t see you. I know it’s hard to believe, but they might be talking to a friend, chatting on their cellphone or just in a hurry to get to their next stop. So become an “outsider” and do an evaluation of your store visibility. Walk by your store and check for the following:

  • Can you see in the window? Check for sunlight, lighting and glare that may prevent someone from seeing inside.
  • Is the window display eye-catching?
  • Do you have eye-level identification of your store? That beautiful overhead sign you paid so much money for doesn’t do a thing when someone is up close and walking by.
  • Does your interior lighting make it appear dark, like your store is closed?

Get in their faces! Next, create a focal point that makes it impossible to ignore you. Large, potted plants on either side of your store define the space and take you out of that linear blur. Or put out balloons, a bowl of water for pets if you center is pet friendly. And then there’s my personal favorite: the sandwich board. It’s such an in-your-face, low-tech way to get people’s attention. Make it fun and interesting, and you’ve put yourself miles ahead of the competition.

And One More Thing

In the long run, a healthy business needs a proportionate combination of new and repeat customers. Don’t focus on the number of cars in your shopping center’s parking lot. Spend your time tweaking the connection of your store concept to your core audience. Then work on building relationships that will encourage more frequent and increased spending.

Small Business Center

ICSC champions small and emerging businesses in getting from business plan to brick-and-mortar.

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