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5 Ways to Increase Foot Traffic

March 7, 2016

Have you ever noticed how many people walk by your store and don’t come in? Does it bother you? Of course it does. No one who has ever managed a retail operation is comfortable with traffic that passes them by. It’s like having a party and no one comes. For stores that are contained within a museum or an institution, it’s easy to feel like you’re doing something wrong if your numbers don’t reflect a sizable portion of the general admissions.

Increasing your foot traffic is one of the primary ways of maximizing profitability for your store. Profitability begins with feet through the door. So let’s look at five ways that you can increase your foot traffic, without breaking the bank.

  1. Knock down the walls.  Most museum stores have definitive boundaries that separate the store from the rest of the building. If your store gives the feeling of being a fortress you may be missing out on business. To overcome that barrier, you need to blur the boundaries between the store and your museum. Try putting the most gregarious members of your staff outside your store. Have them distribute coupons to visitors as they arrive. Remind museum-goers that something special is going on in your store. Consider your signage. Is your signage easily seen or easily overlooked?   One idea might be to add packaged coffees or teas that reflect your institution’s collections (regionally, culturally, or historically). Then brew up some samples and pass them out to passersby (catch them on the way out so you don’t have little cups all over your museum).
  2. Energy. Is this a museum store or an oil painting? If your store has the vibe of a still life, then you need to ratchet up your store’s energy. How about adding a musician or classical quartet to perform on a Saturday afternoon? Consider doing classes, readings by local authors, autograph sessions, demonstrations, or even fashion shows on days when you want to boost traffic. You can also create energy with strong lighting, bright colors, and great fragrances. If you have windows, consider animation, moving lights, and lots of bling to attract attention. Don’t forget, people attract other people.
  3. Tourists. Most museums rely on tourists for much of their business. Be sure that those tourists are taking home their fair share of gifts, souvenirs, and memorabilia. Tourists aren’t hard to find. Devote a portion of your marketing efforts to attracting tourists to your store. Get to know concierges at local hotels. Give them discount coupons for your store. Ask your regulars to post positive reviews on Trip Advisor, Yelp, Virtual Tourist, Google, and Zagat. Now’s the time to start building your summer business.
  4. Partnerships. When English poet, John Donne wrote that “no man is an island,” he may have been thinking about his local museum store… but probably not. But he could have been. Create partnerships both inside and outside your institution. Cross-promote if you have an on-site restaurant. Be sure there’s signage in place that promotes both locations. Consider partnering up with local restaurants, book stores, and galleries. Chances are you share clientele. Do a daily special or a deal-of -the-day and include it with the restaurant’s daily special.
  5. Media and Social Media. To distort a phrase, no news is bad news. If you’re doing great things in your store you need to let people know. Post those good deals and new products on your Facebook page. Do it on a regular basis. If you’re introducing a larger line of products consider writing a press release. Send it out to all the newspapers in your area not just the big dailies. It has a better chance of getting coverage in the neighborhood papers than there is in the bigger papers, but don’t skip anyone. Use Twitter, blast emails, and your blog to keep people up-to-date on the latest happenings in your store. It never hurts to have a little buzz.

Patrick Mulcahy is the Director of Marketing for MSA

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