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Reduced Shopper Traffic and the Effect on In-Store Marketing

Whether is was the shortened shopping season between Thanksgiving and Christmas, an increase in online buying, or just budget belt tightening, shopper traffic in brick-and-mortar stores was down this year – the lowest levels since 2009.

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According to a recent POPAI article, just because foot traffic is down, it does not mean that physical stores are going anywhere, it may just mean retailers will have to put more focus into merchandising, campaign execution and compliance.

From the article:

Shoppers say they have less time to shop either due to time constraints, toting around kids or long to-do lists, but they’re still out and about. WSJ quotes one person say, “My weekends are one long to-do list, so I’ve gravitated to online retailers that make it easy for me to shop without having to go into the store.” Why not take that insight and run with it? Make stores a destination spot for families or create more tailored store layouts for your location. We’re seeing a trend of stores being tailored to their local demographics. Target and Wal-Mart are creating Express stores that will make shopping easier and faster. We will probably learn more about these strategies in the future, but it still give us hope for increased shopper traffic. It will be interesting to see their shopper traffic statistics.

The other missed opportunities we can learn from this WSJ article are to create change in retail stores and provide more savings and loyalty programs. If shoppers are coming into stores less often they probably don’t want to see the same thing. When I worked in the furniture and clothing retail worlds we changed our floor plans and displays around every day to keep shoppers interested in products that would be there for several months. Granted that some of you are making store fixtures, that can’t really happen but maybe it can affect they way your designs can move or be installed. Shoppers want to see products in new ways. They want to imagine that item in their life in several ways, so let’s make it happen. I know that means retailers need to invest more money in in-store marketing, but it can create a big change in sales and shopper traffic. Doing this also lead to more innovative and re-purposed displays, which leads to more emphasis on producer companies. For creating more savings and loyalty programs, this can be done in several ways. Retailers creating more programs for customers to save and producers/agencies creating more displays that link to these programs. Granted I do not have all the stats for this, there are ways to make these happen.

Just because shopper traffic is lower than previous years, it does not mean that brick-and-mortars are going to die, thus creating void for the in-store marketing industry. It just means that retailers need to focus on in-store marketing more. With effective in-store marketing and displays, shoppers will come more often and spend more. People want the personalized experience of shopping and online shopping can’t always do that. We may be seeing a trend of retailers closing stores or shifting money to online, but online stores are still building brick-and-mortars, so what trend are you going to stand behind?