How can retailers attract customers back in-store?

The Covid-19 crisis has taken its toll on our high streets. With consumers moving towards digital, retailers have a huge challenge in drawing people away from online offerings and back into physical stores.

Now that non-essential retailers are back in business, retailers are approaching this challenge in different ways. From increased cleaning and compulsory mask-wearing (Primark and Next), to cashless-only payment (IKEA), the race is on to persuade consumers – especially the older generation  – that the high street is a safe environment.

But as Marketing Week explains, retailers are using more than just robust health and safety plans to tempt consumers through the door. Both John Lewis and M&S are offering customers increased loyalty rewards and benefits, while Selfridges is going all-out on window displays and in-store experiences.

However, some retailers are taking a completely different approach. According to Next’s CEO, Lord Simon Wolfson, the company will not be using any of its marketing budget to get customers back into its physical stores. Why? Because the company had not been able to identify marketing activity where the return justifies the investment. Instead, the retailer plans to further grow its online business.

According to retail commentator Richard Hyman, “the main driver [of footfall] is the opening of stores.”

As Hyman explains: “Build it and they will come is not a very reliable basis on which to build a business generally speaking, but on this occasion, having been starved of non-essential shopping, I think we’ll see a significant amount of people going shopping. I think there’s a lot of pent up demand.”

There are a number of factors that point to Hyman’s theory being correct. Longer opening hours, growing confidence among older shoppers, and more money having been saved than usual over the past 12 months are all good news for in-store spending.

Many of the high street’s biggest brands have the pulling power required to get customers back through the doors. However, smaller names may have to be more creative in their promotional activity.

Of course, getting people in store over the coming weeks is just the first step. The real challenge will be getting them to stay. As we move forward, the most successful retailers will be those who understand the nature and motivations of their customers and remove any barriers that prevent them from shopping with them.

At Delta Group, we help retailers “sell” themselves to their customers and set themselves apart from the competition. To find out how we can help your business grow post pandemic, get in touch with the team today.