Foot Traffic: How to Accurately Measure and Increase Customer Visits to Your Store

Measure foot traffic | Shopify Retail blog

As retailers are well aware, foot traffic is a key factor for any successful brick-and-mortar location. And increasing that foot traffic to your physical store is a constant struggle.

More visits to your storefront from current and potential customers can boost sales and customer engagement, as well as give you the opportunity to connect in-person with real shoppers. The first step to increasing your foot traffic is understanding it. Measuring foot traffic provides you with the data you need to develop a strategy to increase it over time.

The importance of this metric can’t be overstated when it comes to getting a good sense of what is getting traction in your store. Figure3 is an agency that designs functional spaces for workplaces, retail, and residential. On the importance of retail spaces, they state “We believe they’re more relevant than ever. Your store and its associates are the key differentiators in a very competitive market. Most websites look the same, and the only true differentiator online is price. A retail business based only on the lowest price isn’t much of a business.”

But one major challenge is that some retailers find foot traffic difficult to reliably track. While agencies like Figure3 offer specialized tools to assist stores in measuring foot traffic, there are techniques retailers can use themselves to analyze store visits, and optimize store layouts accordingly. And here’s how to get started.

How to Measure Foot Traffic

Don’t worry — you don’t need to stand at the door and manually count everyone who enters to measure foot traffic. Thankfully, there are plenty of great tools to help calculate foot traffic and collect information about the customers that visit your brick and mortar location(s).

This information can help you schedule the right number of sales associates for your busy and slow times, track conversion rates when used with sales data, and ensure that your store is designed in a way that facilitates customer engagement. Now, let’s take a took at a few ways to gauge the foot traffic your retail store is getting.

In-Store Analytics

Gathering in-store foot traffic intel can be a fairly manual process, or you can somewhat automate it — it just depends on your needs and budget.

If you’re looking for a fairly simple way to monitor the traffic in and out of your store, then you can always install a surveillance camera and comb through footage to identify the busy times of day, make note of the common routes that customers take through the store, and estimate the demographic of your customers. And although this is a fairly cost effective method of loosely measuring foot traffic, it still requires manual counting on your end and isn’t 100% accurate.

Another way to count customers coming through the door and map their movements within the store is with heat sensors. Installed at the front door or on the ceiling, the sensors track heat signatures through the store so you can identify successful product displays as “hot spots.”

If you’re after more holistic in-store analytics, there are some great companies that have you covered. Aiselabs is one such company that helps retailers carefully track in-store analytics through sensors, mobile apps, and information gathered when customers log into the local WiFi network. They then use this information along with store layouts, labor and staffing, and local weather to develop effective marketing initiatives based on this wealth of data.

Image Credit: Aislelabs

Another foot traffic solution is ShopperTrak — a people counting and conversion tracking system.

Their website states that “ShopperTrak counts visitors to your space using traditional traffic counting devices at entrances or pressure-sensitive floor mats to deliver granular and accurate insights on consumer behaviors in physical spaces.”

Social Engagement

Another way to measure foot traffic and gain customer insight is through social engagement. You can encourage customers to check in at in-store demos, or hold an in-store event that requires attendees to RSVP and/or fill out a survey that provides you with invaluable data. For further reading on the value of in-store demos, check out The Purpose & Benefits of a Product Demonstration.

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If your brand already has a solid online presence through your website or social media profiles, you can make your brick-and-mortar store a check-in location or requires customers to provide information when they log into the free store WiFi. Apps like Foursquare are a great way for your customers to engage with your brand while providing you with consumer data.

How to Increase Foot Traffic

So now that you have some ideas about measuring foot traffic — let’s take a look at five ways to increase your retail store’s foot traffic.

1. Design is Key

The design of your retail store is an important factor in the volume of the foot traffic you see. In their quest to pinpoint the science of retail design, Figure3 has identified The 7 Secrets to Retail Design as:

  • Open and social: We’re social creatures. This unconscious desire also influences how we act; we take behavioural cues from others. As Figure3 puts it: “When you put the behaviour you want to encourage on display, others will copy.”

  • Compelling: In the words of Figure3: “Good retail design...demands attention and further interaction triggering unconscious emotional responses.”

  • Engaging: Create an environment that encourages customers to engage with your brand. This elevates their sense of ownership and value, and they’re more likely to make a purchase.

  • Focused: Rely on insights into your target customer. Then build your store based around their unconscious needs.

  • Easy: Stores that provide frictionless experiences earn continued business. Work to design a store that removes any barriers to ideal behaviour and fits seamlessly into the lives of your customers.

  • Constantly evolving: Because humans are hardwired to love new experiences, store environments shouldn’t stagnate. Occasionally refresh the look and feel of your store to keep customers interested and engaged.

  • Unique: This is sort of a no-brainer. Distinct spaces stick with us, and give you a leg up over the competition in the minds of shoppers.

This seven-part formula for store design removes barriers so customers can move about easier, and creating compelling retail design can even elicit an attraction that triggers an unconscious emotional response with your brand.

2. Lead by Example

As mentioned above, our desire to be social drives us to follow behavioral cues.

That means that the more people are seen entering your store and interacting with your displays, the more people passing by will want to do the same. Invite in passersby, put up interactive displays, and have open-space designs with a line of sight to encourage this behavior. For more on creating an inviting first impression, check out the Shopify blog: A Fool-Proof Guide to Creating Window Displays that Turn Heads and Drive Foot Traffic.

3. Increase Engagement

An effective way to shore up foot traffic in the short term is through special events. Hold in-store events to introduce new products and demos, as well as celebrate anniversaries, holidays, or customer loyalty to bring customers in for a day. It can also increase engagement with your customer base, as it gives you the chance to interact with them face-to-face in a social setting.

Sephora email | Shopify Retail blog

Image: Sephora email invite to local events.

Special one-day promotions and door-buster sales are another way to increase foot traffic during slow periods, or when you need to liquidate inventory. Even if customers don’t make it out to your event, any marketing ventures for the event are also beneficial for brand awareness.

4. Keep it Fresh

It’s important to keep things interesting and new at your retail location. Alternating window displays and updating product selection is important for your loyal customers who come back often.

Also, seasonal displays are a great way to attract customers that might not be familiar with your brand but are looking to make a specific purchase for an upcoming holiday.

5. Stand out from the Crowd

It’s a competitive world out there — especially if your retail location is in a mall or busy downtown area. So keep it interesting and unique. You should have a clearly defined brand identity that is reflected in your retail location. Your brand should be evident in the design of the store (is it modern, traditional, hip?), in-store signage and logos, the music you play, and the in-store graphics that mark displays and sections. Another great way to lend your brand voice is in the design and language of your hang tags. For more, check out Hang Tags: 20 Examples to Glorify Your Product and The Secret to Telling Your Brand's Story With Immersive Retail Design.

Final Thoughts

Let us know how you track your retail store’s foot traffic and what you’ve learned since you started measuring it. Were you surprised by anything you uncovered? Leave us a comment and let’s talk!