We all know the world is becoming more mobile and people are moving towards online shopping. You probably see articles almost every day stating that retail is dying and that malls and storefronts won’t be around much longer. But here’s the thing -- the in-store shopping experience is still the consumers' preferred option, especially during the holiday season.

Improve customer engagement and increase sales

In fact, 65% of people still prefer to shop in-store rather than online, meaning that in-store shopping is still a big revenue maker.
Okay, we’ll admit that the number has gone down in recent years, but that’s still over half of your customer base. If they still prefer to shop in-store, why aren’t we pushing to improve the in-store shopping experience? 

This chart shows you that nearly every category (except for a few) 50%+ of consumers prefer to shop in-store. You can see from luxury items and pet supplies to clothing and groceries -- people still enjoy the in-store experience. Image courtesy of Atrivity

All of this information should tell you that increasing in-store foot traffic during the holiday season is very possible. You just need to figure out how to reach your customers and incentivize them to come into your store rather than your neighbors. 

How do you do that? By appealing to what your customers interests and providing in-store only promotions and events. Let’s take a look at how one retailer has nailed down the idea of bringing customers into their stores for events and how you can utilize these types of tactics during the holiday season. 

So, how can retailers gain more in-store foot traffic? 

To truly gain more foot traffic over the holidays, retailers have to get creative. It’s no secret that brands are constantly looking for unique ways to bring customers into the store. While new products, the latest fashion trends , and technology are the traditional reasons to have shoppers engage in-store, some brands are thinking outside the box to interact with their customers. 

People will come to your physical store location for a variety of reasons. A few of the most popular events that bring people in the door are special sales and pop-up shops. Use this knowledge to your advantage and start getting your customers in-store by giving them what they want. Image courtesy of Hardware Retailing

Experiences, like the ones PSFK refers to in its article “Brands Fulfilling Customer Needs with Out-of-The-Box Incentives”, can be anything from a VIP cocktail party or runway show to exercise classes or poetry slams. These in-store events are helping to redefine the shopper experience and build brand loyalty.

Running these types of campaigns during the holidays should be one of the easiest times of the year. Play off of what holidays or timely events and trends are happening will help create excitement and buzz around the event. 

For example, have Santa visit your store around Christmas or throw an early New Years Eve bash at your store to offer a one of a kind experience for customers. Of course you’ll leave your registers open and maybe even provide a discount offer for those who choose to attend.    

The more foot traffic you can get into your stores, the more likely customers are to spend their holiday budget on your items. Keep in mind, the sales you make in-store don’t require any shipping costs and can often encourage additional spending. 

How one store has already perfected in-store exclusive event marketing. 

Robert Graham, an American Eclectic lifestyle brand, hosts exclusive events for their VIP customers regularly at their locations across the country. Robert Graham already stands out as a retailer because each store has its own unique design and personality that fits within the community as well as their brand. 

No two stores are identical, but all their locations are creative and inviting, making them a perfect venue for entertaining. And each store engages shoppers by inviting them to fun events, such as whiskey tastings, cigar rolling or, my personal favorite, simply offering valet parking while they shop the latest line.

To personalize the experience even more,  for each event they send out an invitation to customers. Below is the one they sent to their customers near San Antonio inviting them to their new store.

This invitation lets the customer know about the new location, but also invites them to be a part of the new store. By getting customers in the door for this event, they are not only getting people into their physical store but also building a relationship with the customer. As more stores in the area open, people will want to visit to check out the new unique store and browse the products they carry.

Naomi Holland, Director of Marketing for Robert Graham shares, “Our all store take-over events are very successful as they allow one communication message to flow to the customer from social media to the homepage to email blasts to in-store clienteling. 

For example, in October, Robert Graham launched breast cancer takeover events and November will be “Movember” related takeover events. In December, all stores will host a takeover event on December 5th for holidays, in partnership with “Toys for Tots”. Each event takeover has a philanthropic angle and a consumer-focused shopping experience which makes it a win-win for the consumer and Robert Graham.”

These types of events around the holidays will help get people excited about the upcoming season and allow them to do a little of their shopping. But these events don’t have to be limited to just the holiday season from Thanksgiving to New Years -- Robert Graham gets it and appeals to their customers all year round with different charity-based and other VIP events. 

Getting involved with charities and special causes is a great way to raise awareness and bring customers into stores, but also raise money for a good cause. People support companies that have the same ideas and beliefs as them, so supporting these causes and giving back shows their customers they care. 

Another great example of an invite to something going on in-store. This event will appeal to many customers because they are giving money back to a well-known and important organization. It’s a win-win, the company gets more customer foot traffic into the store and they are raising money to give back to the cause.
Movember has become another big trend in the philanthropic world. You see more and more sports teams and organizations jumping on the Movember bandwagon -- and it’s a great thing! Again, it’s all for a good cause and the store is vowing to donate a portion of the proceeds they make at this event to the cause. 

Start improving your in-store experience to boost holiday (and all year) customer foot traffic. 

Whether a cocktail party is right for your brand or a yoga class is more appropriate, dare to be different. Find new ways to engage new customers and long-time customers without the pressure to purchase. 

What do you think of this strategy? Or have you had a successful go at an in-store promotion or event at your store? Let us know!