I promise you – this is not another alarmist blog about how online shopping will lead to the demise of your brick-and-mortar stores. That does not have to be your end game. Instead, I’d like to arm you with a proactive strategy for leveraging new digital technologies to keep shoppers coming into your stores and driving engagement and sales.

People are still shopping – so bring them in


First, when it comes to in-store sales, there’s still plenty of good news to be found among the bad.

There’s one hard fact everyone in the retail industry knows: there hasn’t been any break in the years-long decline in brick-and-mortar sales. RetailNext’s latest Retail Performance Pulse report on store performance showed a 6 percent year-over-year decline in August.

However, “on the plus side of the ledger, conversion continued to show its upward trend, improving 0.3 percent. It’s increasingly clear that in today’s omnichannel shopping journeys, when shoppers do get to the store, they arrive with a strong intent to buy,” RetailNext’s blog says about the latest store statistics.

In addition, people still prefer shopping in stores over online, according to an annual consumer survey conducted by PwC. The report states that almost 40% of consumers make purchases inside a physical store at least once a week, compared to just 27% who do the same online. But as the study’s author noted, “to keep shoppers coming back, brick-and-mortar stores will need to become more tailored to the digital age.”

Make your storefront work harder

When looking at new ways to do that, start with your storefront. In the face of mounting competitive pressure from other retailers to entice a reduced shopper population into stores, is it doing everything it can to bring them in? There are now some cool new technologies that make your storefronts work harder and smarter for you – driving in-store traffic and increasing sales and brand loyalty while personally engaging with your customers. Here are three.

Create large, dynamic displays to boost traffic. The store window is the first opportunity to get someone’s attention. Retailers are finding that large displays using digital media will increase foot traffic, but content must be well-choreographed. Our retail customers have had the most success capturing shoppers’ attention when they use dynamic displays with bold messages that are brief (approximately 7 seconds) and full of movement and motion.

Personalize messages to shoppers with beacons. Personal shopper engagement drives brand loyalty, and when your shoppers feel like you are talking just to them, the cash register rings. You can facilitate personal engagement by integrating beacon technology into your digital signage.

How does it work? Beacons transmit messages to the smartphones of shoppers who have downloaded the appropriate app. Retailers can push notifications out to shoppers and promote new products or sale information. Beacons also enable your digital signage to respond to someone walking by, triggering specific messages to play on the signage based on characteristics of a particular shopper. This technology transforms your messaging from audience-driven to individual-based messaging and offers retailers almost unlimited creative options in execution.

Enable storefront transactions – even after hours. When the lights inside your store go out, your storefront can still be open for business. There are now touchscreen applications for interactive digital signagethat enable shoppers to search and view merchandise from your storefront and then finish the transactions on their smart phones. This approach can effectively grab the attention of a passing shopper, engage them in a search for a specific item and then move them to a purchase.

The cost of not using signage to increase store traffic

Installing a digital signage solution costs money, but not using it also comes at a price. Do the math. How many customers walk into your store each day? What’s your conversion rate and how does that translate into average basket size? Now imagine what a 5% increase in store traffic would do to those numbers.

Also ask yourself how often your store associates have to change out storefront windows. What’s their success rate in terms of accuracy and timeliness? Digital signage is updated at a central point, keeping your windows fresh and your associates busy with other work to improve the store appearance and attract customers, such as restocking and resetting displays.

Digital signage won’t necessarily replace all your street-facing elements, but it can be an indispensable addition to your existing strategy. It’s a great way to leverage technology to drive sales and increase customer engagement and brand loyalty in a surprisingly personal way. Don’t give the increasingly elusive shopper a reason to pass you by; lure them in with great content and technology and see the difference it can make.