7 Ways to Increase Foot Traffic to Your Store in NYC

4098652750_c217cc9e3b_mIn 2012, the most recent year for which data is available, 52 million tourists visited New York City. They spent more than $12 billion on shopping and entertainment. Combined with the 8 million people who live here full-time, that’s a serious spending engine. It’s a pedestrian city, too, so all those people are already walking in front of your store. You just need to get them inside. Here are a few ways to do it:

1. Spruce up your storefront.

Imagine you’re a member of your target demographic. First, check the basics. Is the store clean and in good repair? Is it clear to an outsider what you’re selling? Take a look at your window displays. Do they draw the eye? Taking the time to put together a unique window display can make a big difference in your sales. The longer someone looks at the window and the products in it, the more likely that person is to step inside. In addition to inclusion in our app directory, ‘brellaBox participating businesses will receive a sticker with the ‘brellaBox logo that they can place in their window. This will signify to New Yorkers that your store is a place to come when rain threatens.

Don’t just focus on the window, either. Spread your brand out to the street. Put a clever or artistic sign in front of the store. Roll out a red carpet to the door. If the weather is nice, put a display outside. Keep your door open and play some music.

2. Focus on the in-store experience.

It’s easy to shop online, but that doesn’t mean that it’s better than shopping in-store. Make sure your customer service is the best it can be. You already know about the basics, like cheerful sales associates and a clean store, but that’s not enough. Your store should shine compared to the online experience. Create an ambiance – the decor should highlight and complement your product. If you’re selling tech, aim for sleek lines and bold colors. If you’re selling artisanal products, use rustic wood and rich, earthy tones. Selling toys? Bright primary colors and simple shapes – you can add a play area to entertain the kids so parents will spend more time shopping. Make your displays conducive to trying out your products. The ability to physically hold a product is one of the big advantages of in-store shopping over online shopping.

Ambiance is important, but the most crucial aspect of the in-store experience is customer service. Take time to train your employees well. Make sure they know your store and systems intimately and make sure you have enough people on duty at any given time. You need to keep the shelves stocked and the checkout line moving, or your customers will start to lose patience. A truly stellar customer service experience is increasingly rare and the word will spread that your store has it.

3. Take advantage of social media.

To survive the rise of the online generation, you need a solid social media presence. Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Google+, the works. There are plenty of businesses in NYC and you want to stand out. Do a basic SEO checkup and make sure your address and contact information is correct on all of those sites, especially Google. Be active on social media. Post about relevant community news and engage with your readers. You can use tools such as Groupon, Lifebooker, and Living Social to offer limited-time deals to nearby consumers in exchange for a “like,” a hashtag, or a “follow.” That will draw customers through the door and also widen the reach of your social media campaign. You may even consider hiring an SEO firm to manage your search and social media for you.

In your social media campaigns, put the focus on your customers’ positive experiences. Post pictures of them in your store and ask them to post pictures of themselves using your products and tag you. Ask your customers to post reviews about their experiences online on sites like Yelp. Keep a close eye on those reviews and address any negative ones promptly. The more reviews you have and the more positive the reviews, the more visible you’ll be to people searching for your products.

4. Host an event.

Be creative! Maybe a local charity is doing a drive. Maybe your local theater is putting on a new show. Maybe the Giants make the playoffs – or even the Jets. March Madness? Support the Knicks with a promo linked to the number of three-pointers they score. Holidays are fair game, too. Is it Pride weekend? Fly a big rainbow flag and offer discounts to people in costume. Bring the community together for something they care about. You can offer food, games, or any number of promotions to draw a crowd. You can throw a block party or have a raffle for an interesting prize. Local radio stations are often willing to broadcast neighborhood events live, helping to increase the buzz around your business.

Consider teaming up with other nearby businesses to create a stronger draw. If you’re celebrating a charity cause, consider donating some of the proceeds to that cause – the Millennial generation is notoriously socially conscious and a modest donation can go a long way for your reputation. Make sure you promote the event in advance and in real time on those social media outlets you’ve been working on. Send out a notice to your mailing list and hand out flyers. Alert the local media. Let people know you’re throwing a party!

5. Go on the road.

Street fairs are a big part of NYC life. The city is bustling with street fairs and festivals – there’s bound to be at least a few in your neighborhood. They’re the perfect way for you to go to the customers! Taking your business on the road will let you expose your brand to a large group of customers in a fun, memorable way. Put some work into your booth and signage to make both stand out. Hand out cards with your address and website to encourage customers to visit your store again.

Subscribe to the newsletters of local trade shows and community organizers so you always know what events are happening near you. New York also loves a pop-up store. Consider setting up a temporary space to bring your brand to a new neighborhood and spread awareness. Make sure the experience is consistent on the road and at home – the same kinds of products, the same kind of ambiance, and the same excellent customer service.

6. Offer smart discounts.

The right discounts can make a big difference. Offer first-time customers a discount on their next purchase. Offer loyal customers sales during the holiday season. Consider starting a loyalty program to keep customers coming back – and maybe even bringing their friends. It’s expensive to live in the city and New Yorkers love to be able to save a few bucks.

Discounts can be a dangerous game. Rather than offering blanket discounts or everyday discounts, target your discounts. Reward loyal customers and customers who engage with your business on social media.You can also target your discounts to a certain period of time, such as during a community event you’re hosting or sponsoring.

7. Host a ‘brellaBox.

Have you ever popped into a convenience store just to use the ATM? You’re there to pick up some cash, but the temptation to grab a candy bar or a soda is difficult to resist. Put a product people can’t live without in your store to draw them in. With a ‘brellaBox, customers will stop by to grab an umbrella on a rainy day. Once they’re inside, they’ll have a chance to browse around the store. They’ll have to return the umbrella later, too, so you’ll get twice the exposure.

Word will spread around the community that you’re providing a commodity – you know the location of every ATM in your neighborhood, right? You’ll be the first stop for everyone in the neighborhood when it starts to rain – and it rains more than 10 days a month in New York City, on average. A ‘brellaBox only takes up a little bit of space in your store and it will bring damp passers-by into your store – where the rest of your strategy will turn them into customers.

Brick and Mortar Lives On

Sure, ecommerce is great. It’s easy to use and it’s convenient. But that doesn’t mean the brick-and-mortar store is obsolete. Your store can offer real experiences that a computer screen just can’t. Your customers can touch the products they’re interested in and your sales force can give them expert help in person and in real time. You can become a center for your community and build a personal loyalty that’s lacking in impersonal online transactions. New York City is full of potential customers. Use these tips to welcome them in.

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Molly Bachechi


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