One of the most essential measures when it comes to running a brick-and-mortar store is getting foot traffic. The more traffic you generate translates into more opportunities for sales and customer engagement, which in turn leads to the main goal — increased revenues.
For small and large retailers alike, having a storefront that customers enjoy and want to walk into is important. But do you really know just how important it is? Here’s the truth — the exterior of your business can be responsible for roughly 45% of your marketing image.
Like it or not, customers do judge a book by its cover when it comes to your storefront. In fact, customers also make judgments about what they’re interested in and whether or not it will meet their needs in about the first 15 seconds of walking past a store. That’s not a lot of time to make a good impression and if you fail that first test, those customers are going to keep walking right past your store — and most likely, right to your competitors.
Fortunately, there are ways to help avoid your competition capturing customer dollars that you could instead be getting. To help, consider the below tips.
TIP #1: Strengthen Curb Appeal
Studies have shown that 70% of first-time sales happen because of the storefront curb appeal. From the exterior, customers pass judgment on everything from peeling paint, storefront weeds, dirty windows, lack of clarity on what the store sells and of course, poor window displays.
From maintenance tasks to visual appeal, your storefront needs to be welcoming and look like a place that potential customers would actually want to enter – even if you think it looks just fine as is. The reality is, you are not every customer that walks by so keep in mind that having a well-lit, well-maintained and welcoming storefront can help bring customers into your store.
To help accomplish this goal, it’s important to keep your storefront fresh and interesting through product displays in your exterior windows. Use a variety of colors and change the lighting to set a mood and generate curiosity through your displays, as well as communicate that you’re open for business.
Signage can help accomplish this, but it’s important this signage is easy to read and visible from the sidewalk or even further away. In other words, don’t handwrite your store hours but instead invest in strong signage with easy to read fonts that are bold enough for your customers to see without having to be immediately next to your storefront.
Curious if your store accomplishes the above?
A good test to evaluate your store signage is to look at it from the outside as if you’re a potential customer. Evaluate the physical state of your windows, doors, and walls, and identify what might need a little extra TLC. Then assign associates various maintenance tasks that may include washing windows, sweeping the front entrance and strengthening window displays to help ensure your curb appeal is second to none.
TIP #2: Make What You Sell Easy to Understand
If potential customers have no idea what you’re selling, what motivation do they have to walk into your store? Can they tell what you do or sell from your storefront? Do they understand what your brand can offer them or how you’re different than your competitors?
Your exterior signage is arguably the most important kind of signage because it’s what will help get customers through the door and into your store. According to one study, 76% of consumers have chosen to enter a store they had never before visited based purely on its sign, and another 68% admit to having made purchases of products or services after a sign caught their eye.
From your storefront signage to promotional banners to sandwich boards that welcome people and highlight a sale, signage is often the first impression many customers have of retail stores. Keeping this in mind, signage is also one of the most important sales tools that a merchant has.
Make it clear exactly what products or services you offer and why the customers can’t do without it. Ensure the message is clean, clear, concise and that it reflects what your store sells. As a result, you will welcome more customers thanks to the clarity you are providing them on what your store sells.
TIP #3: Provide a Call to Action
Having a clean and well-maintained storefront that shows off what you sell is a must, but incorporating a call to action elevates your curb appeal to another level. Giving potential customers a reason to walk into your store can help increase your store traffic as well as sales. Incorporating this final tip into your storefront strategies is one not to overlook.
While it may sound obvious, promotions and sales need to be advertised with a sense of urgency to help potential customers to take action. Make sure you use sale signs in your storefront but also entice customers with incentives beyond traditional sale signs. Are you having a special event? Or will one be coming up soon? Have you recently welcomed a new, exciting vendor to your inventory assortment? Do you offer complimentary refreshments all day long? Go above and beyond what is expected and share these details via your storefront to help encourage customers to want to engage and be a part of your retail experience.
Another tip? Be sure to add countdowns telling people how much (or little) time they have left to take advantage of what may be happening in your store. The goal is to literally tell them what to do — come into the store for an amazing offer.
The Bottom Line
The goal of retail is to provide customers with a complete solution and this starts with providing a welcoming storefront. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes — would you stop and shop at your store? Be honest with yourself and fill in any gaps you might see in your current strategy. The reality is, you don’t get a second chance to make a good first impression… so make sure your storefront is giving nothing but a fantastic impression that you confidently can be proud of.
About the author:
Nicole Leinbach Reyhle is the Founder of RetailMinded and a published author. She is a frequent contributor to The Today Show, Forbes, and countless B2B publications. Reyhle is the Spokesperson for American Express’s Small Business Saturday and writes regularly as a retail thought leader for various industry resources and is recognized as a Top 10 retail thought leaders from Vend and a retail “futurist” for IBM. Finally, Reyhle is also the Co-Founder of the Independent Retailer Conference.