July 25, 2019

Five Levers Brands can Pull to Drive In-store Traffic

Written By
Keely Stephens

While a strong e-commerce presence remains the topic du jour in retail, any merchant knows that in-store sales still reign supreme. Almost 90 percent of all retail purchases in the U.S. are still made in physical stores. In fact, of the top 50 online retailers, nearly all operate physical stores.

The bigger question for retailers: what is the secret formula to driving consumers to their store? Getting someone to “click to shop” on Instagram is a completely different ballgame compared to getting them to trek to a store. Retailers require a new set of tactics to make the most out of their real estate. 

From in-store incentives to brushing up the store’s look and feel, below are five levers retailers can pull to drive in-store traffic. 


Geo-marketing, the practice of engaging consumers based on their location, has risen in popularity over the last few years among retailers, giving brands the opportunity to reach shoppers at the right place at the right time.

For example, an IKEA store saw a 31 percent lift in store traffic from 22- to 25-year-olds and an 11 percent lift from 26- to 35-year-olds following a geo-targeted Facebook ad campaign. 

Retailers can also leverage geo-targeting through their own mobile apps. The Barney’s mobile app asks shoppers to share their location, allowing the app to serve customers within proximity to the store targeted notifications or recommendations based on their buying habits.

While geo-marketing can be highly effective, because this type of marketing depends on the consumer  sharing their personal information, retailers must be mindful that too many overly promotional notifications might cause the consumer to opt out.

Optimizing the store experience

To bring shoppers in-store, retailers must make their store a destination that shoppers want to spend time in rather than just a place to make transaction. Depending on the retailer’s target audience and overall feel of their brand, this can mean creating an in-store playground for parents shopping with kids or free wi-fi for mobile-obsessed millennials and Gen Z. 

A lounge area is another way to not only encourage foot traffic, but invite shoppers to linger in your store longer. Depending on your shopper base and overall brand feel, add complimentary coffee or tea, or even beer and wine for a sure-fire incentive to draw shoppers in. For example, Lululemon’s flagship space in Toronto has a juice-sampling station in their store, aligning to their brand’s wellness values.

Card-linked offers

Card-linked offers (CLOs) is another in-store tactic quickly gaining popularity. A CLO is a reward or cash back amount given to a consumer at the point of sale through the consumer’s credit or debit card, giving the consumer direct incentive to make a purchase in-store. JCPenney, for example, is offering shoppers 5% cash back for purchases made in-store through Dosh!

As shoppers are 87% more likely to shop at a store that rewards them, CLOs serve as a seamless way to encourage shoppers to make a purchase, while building customer loyalty. And, because CLOs are connected directly to the consumer’s transaction data, retailers can directly connect advertising spend to in-store purchases -- a bridge that has historically been tough to build for stores.

In a recent case study, a national grocery chain tapped Dosh to help it lift in total in-store spend, frequency, and drive loyalty behavior. The results? After full mobile CLO campaign, the results showed that the average lift in shopper spend increased by 14.7% -- in terms of dollars, that was an additional $4.5M in sales for this grocer. 

Friendly, knowledgeable store associates 

While a seemingly obvious consideration, retail store employees can be the face of a retailer’s brand, and can ultimately make or break a customer’s store experience. If a store associate is too pushy or uninviting, you can be sure today’s fickle will not be returning. 

In fact, that in-person, human interaction is something that online shopping can never replace. Retail Dive's Consumer Survey found younger consumers in particular value the ability to ask the in-store associate questions, and Salesforce’s Connected Shopper Report found that 87% of shoppers valued knowledgeable store employees when shopping in-store. 

Retail stores should ensure employees have not only the latest product and overall industry know-how, but are well-equipped to help the customer find what they’re looking for and establish a relationship with them. Having a mobile device where the store associate can look up inventory information or a customer’s shopping history on the spot can be particularly helpful with this. 


While initially a popular option during the holiday shopping season, giving customers the option to buy online and pick up in-store (BOPIS) is becoming a year-round must-have for retailers. Although seemingly a way to drive online sales, BOPIS brings retailers the best of both worlds as it still requires the shopper to make a trip in-store to pick up their purchase. In fact, over Black Friday shopping weekend last year, almost two-thirds of the BOPIS customers made one or more additional purchases while they were in the store. 

Spearheading the BOPIS movement, Walmart and Nordstrom recently announced new physical locations in major suburb areas solely for purchase pickups, allowing consumers the freedom they want without having to wait in lines or deal with in store crowds. This move from Walmart and Nordstrom is not only beneficial to consumers but also extremely cost effective for themselves, allowing them to avoid expensive shipping fees. 

While it’s clear physical stores remain a pillar for any prominent retailer, today’s shopper is not looking for the same in-store experience as 20 years ago. Today’s brick-and-mortar shopping experience needs to bridged to digital as well through channels like mobile and options like BOPIS, while still providing an inviting atmosphere shoppers want to spend time in. To catch the attention of the on-the-go consumer, there’s no doubt retailers will need to continue getting creative to drive traffic in-store.

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