This weekend marked the opening of Ideal Home Show 2011. One of my clients is there, exhibiting in “Ideal Shopping”. It seems that the weekend was immensely busy, but unanimously the exhibitors reported sales that were a fraction of what they were last year. The conversation I’ve just had made me think a bit more about this…
Increasing Footfall and Website traffic – but do higher visitor numbers always translate to higher turnover?
Throw enough of the wrong kind of visitors at your retail channels and all you’ll see is a negative impact on your conversion ratio!
This is exactly what was happening at Ideal Home Show this weekend. Let me explain.
Footfall that merely ties up your resources is of no value to you whatsoever…
In the Ideal Home Show magazine this month there was a free ticket to attend the show this weekend. That publication is distributed to about the best part of 250,000 readers. Evidently readers who may have thought twice about attending decided to take advantage of this offer. Many people who otherwise would not have attended (they were not serious buyers) decided that a free ticket made for an entertaining day out…
So, at the weekend the exhibitors, who had spent thousands (maybe in some cases tens of thousands) to have their stand, staffing and materials on display were inundated with visitors. However, sales were not forthcoming. Regulars reported sales being a fraction of last year and yet visitor numbers were up. One stall holder said they felt more like an exhibit in a theme park than a serious retail business presenting an offer to the consumer… The reason was that these visitors were NOT consumers. They were browsing and having a day out with no intent to purchase anything! They were interested passers by – the kind that gaze into your shop window but never cross the threshold into the store. Unfortunately as stand holders can’t instantly tell who is a serious buyer and who is just an observer, the staff were run off their feet and sales were not forthcoming. All round a bit of a depressing weekend!
What needs to happen during the rest of the event to turn around the weekend’s poor performance?
Well obviously stand holders need to increase sales. They are somewhat at the mercy of the visitors attracted by the organisers. That said there are no more “surprises” like 250,000 free tickets waiting to impact the exhibitors so in theory the rest of the footfall will me more akin to what they expect to see – some browsers, lots of serious shoppers!
The exhibitors need to ensure those working on the stands can quickly identify who is a serious buyer vs. who is just an interested passerby. One approach could be to consider the behaviours and questions of those who have purchased from the stand – by identifying what “signals” to watch out for the teams can ensure they approach and spend time with the right kind of visitor. Exhibitors can also think of some “qualification” questions to ask those visiting their stand – the kind that would help them to quickly determine the intent of the person browsing, without appearing rude or dismissive of course!
How can retailers ensure they get the right kind of visitors to their stores and their website to improve, not dilute, their conversion ratio?
The story from the Ideal Home Show is an illustration of how the wrong kind of visitor, be that footfall to stores or visitors to your ecommerce site, can be detrimental to your retail business. Of course retailers usually have more control over the kind of visitors they attract.
Some tips about attracting the right kind of visitors include:
- Getting your marketing right – driving the right kind of traffic to your channels
- Getting your pricing, promotions and positioning right for your target market
- Presenting the ideal range to meet and predict the demands of your target market
- Making sure the windows, fascia, branding, interior design and visual merchandising are attractive to the right kind of customer
- Making sure you live up to your service promise and customers keep coming back!
- And, when it comes to the internet, using search marketing effectively to “filter” potential visitors based on using the kind of language that engages the right visitors and makes you less “findable” to those who aren’t serious buyers…
Whilst the above is not an exhaustive list by any means it should serve to remind retailers that whilst high numbers of the right visitors will lead to increased sales (as long as you have availability of what they want), you may in fact be better off with fewer but higher quality visitors that produce a higher conversion rate such that you can deliver more turnover through fewer transactions. One thing is true, the wrong kind of visitors just dilute your effectiveness as a business and demoralise sales teams!
Happy Retailing 🙂