5 Ways Retailers Can Increase Store Traffic

The Story

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In recent years, few things have had a larger impact on independent retailers than the rise of e-commerce giants and changing consumer habits. With more customers turning to online shopping options, brick and mortar stores have been tasked with finding creative solutions that keep customers coming back. As the COVID-19 pandemic releases its hold on in-person events, many retailers are finding success in once again inviting customers to gather within their place of business. Hosting in-person events as an independent retailer can not only increase awareness of your store, but also help to forge relationships that promote customer loyalty. 

How Can I Increase Foot Traffic In My Store? 

The best independent retailers know that a business is nothing without its customers, and making good first impressions that lead to lasting customer relationships is the key to increasing your store’s foot traffic. One way in which business owners can create opportunities for connection with their customers is by hosting in-person events at your store. 

In 2024, in-person events have returned in full force and consumers once again feel comfortable gathering with their community. Independent retailers can take advantage of this current draw towards community and shopping locally by planning events that are engaging for both new and existing customers. 

1. Host Engaging In-Person Events At Your Store 

When thinking about planning and hosting an event at your small business, independent retailers may find themselves overwhelmed by the planning, marketing, and day-of efforts that immediately come to mind. However, hosting an event does not have to be expensive, incredibly elaborate, or require much manpower. 

When it comes to planning an event that will engage your customers, the first step is to consider what your customers would value in an event. If the bulk of your customers have an interest in agriculture, they will likely prefer to attend an agriculture-focused event, such as a Cattle Mineral Meeting or a Farmer’s Appreciation Day. 

Knowing your customers is an important factor when planning an in-store event, and selecting topics that are of interest to your customers will pay dividends in event awareness and participation. After all, more customers coming to your event means more opportunities for small business owners to create relationships with new customers and earn customer loyalty.

Case Study: First Annual Weenie Dog Race at NRS, Decatur, TX 

When National Roper’s Supply in Decatur, TX was hoping to host an event that would not only engage their customers, but also create a wealth of business opportunities, a pet event combining promotional offers on pet food and supplies with the opportunity to watch a Weenie Dog Race was a match made in heaven. 

The VAN LEUVEN Company proudly supported NRS in their marketing efforts for their first-ever Weenie Dog Race and 8 other events in 2023, creating flyers, social media posts, and postcard invitations to spread awareness while inviting their customers to participate. The combination of the engaging topic, additional value for the consumer, and event support resulted in NRS’s accompanying Weenie Dog Race social media posts to reach record levels of engagement on their social media pages.

“This Weenie Dog Race Post was the greatest post we have ever seen. We had weenie dogs come from over 4 hours away!” —National Roper’s Supply, Decatur, TX

The success of National Roper’s Supply’s pet event is a true testament to the power of knowing one’s customers in business and the additional benefit of comprehensive event support. Learn more about how The VAN LEUVEN Company can help you fully support 4 events in 2024 with the VLC Event Bundle Program. 

2. Combine In-Person Events with an Offering In-Store

An independent retailer may also benefit from combining an event in their store with a special offer that entices customers to attend. Understanding the type of promotional offer that would be of value to one’s customers allows business owners to select a relevant promotion to plan an event around, placing emphasis on bringing customers into the store to take advantage of the offer. 

“You want to make sure that you’re having an event where the customer can get some value so that they have a reason to come. State the objective of what you’re going to be doing, and don’t just have an event and hope people are going to come by. It’s got to be something with an actual tangible offer. That’s what’s going to increase the attendance.” —Diana Van Leuven, CEO at The VAN LEUVEN Company

For example, small business owners that focus seasonally on promoting outdoor essentials, such as lawn and garden care items, may choose to plan an outdoor event or barbecue for their customers with a special promotional offer on their outdoor offerings. Utilizing seasonality can allow independent retailers to think like a customer, understanding promotions and events that customers will appreciate at specific times. 

Case Study: Purina® Check-R-Board® Days Event Support

When it comes to incorporating a promotional offer into your event, the key is to select a relevant promotion for the type of event being hosted. An example of an inexpensive way to do this is by utilizing marketing support from The VAN LEUVEN Company for your Check-R-Board® Days event. As an agency partner of Purina Mills, LLC, marketing support for Check-R-Board® Days provided by The VAN LEUVEN Company is reimbursable through your available Purina® Selling Support Funds. Independent retailers of Purina® can combine customer appreciation events with in-store promotions, earning full reimbursement through their available Purina® Selling Support Funds for professional event support. 

3. Organize a Giveaway for Your Customers at Your Store

When it comes to getting customers in the door, the opportunity to win free items from a business is always a compelling reason for customers to stop by. Small business owners can organize a giveaway for their customers that will run for a specific period of time. Considering your customers’ interests and values is key, and displaying the giveaway items in-store and promoting it through multi-channel marketing can have a great impact on the giveaway’s success. 

The stipulations for entry into an independent retailer’s giveaway can vary, but several options can include customers spending a certain amount of money in the store, submitting customer information, and more. Be sure to do your research on the legalities of hosting a giveaway to make sure that your business has itself covered before starting one. To make sure that your giveaway runs smoothly, reach out to the team at The VAN LEUVEN Company for expert guidance and marketing strategy. 

4. Form and Utilize Relationships with Other Businesses

An often overlooked but incredibly beneficial way of increasing your store’s foot traffic is by forming relationships with other local businesses that serve similar customers. While this may seem counterintuitive to some business owners, there is power in partnership. For independent retailers in the agriculture industry, this could look like partnering with the local John Deere® retailer to host an event focused on lawn care and maintenance. With similar customer lists, this type of co-hosted event exposes each business to new customers that fit the demographic criteria suitable to become loyal shoppers at either business. 

For help identifying businesses in your area that would be valuable partnerships, contact The VAN LEUVEN Company for a free consultation. 

5. Arrange a Community-Centric Charitable Event

Community is important to independent retailers, and organizing a way to give back can draw in conscientious customers while strengthening the area in which your business operates. When small business owners partner with a charitable organization or organize their own charitable efforts, their communities benefit along with their businesses from increased foot traffic by customers who know that they are contributing to something greater with their purchases. There are several different ways that an independent retailer can get involved with organizing a community-centered charitable event in their store, including hosting an essay contest, a percentage day, or a donation drive. 

At the heart of our communities are our children, and small business owners have the power to do good for the community through offering scholarships within their communities. A great way for independent retailers to get involved in providing scholarships for kids is by hosting an essay contest. For an independent retailer in the agriculture industry, establishing scholarships for 4-H or FFA students through an essay competition shows that you are doing good for your community while also supporting the future of your industry. Simply announce your essay contest and the guidelines for submissions, have participants come into your store to drop off their entries, and celebrate the winners with your community. 

Independent retailers may also partner with a charity to organize a percentage day where a portion of the proceeds generated in-store are donated to supporting a local organization. Announce your partnership and urge customers to come in and shop for a good cause! 

Donation drives are another way that independent retailers can increase foot traffic while doing good for their communities. By partnering with a local organization, such as a food pantry, small business owners can organize their customers to bring in necessary items for a discount in-store. 

Case Study: Donation Drives Supported by VLC 

At The VAN LEUVEN Company, we are committed to supporting efforts to heal, nurture, enrich, and sustain the world. We were proud to have supported multiple successful donation drives, including Bark for Books and Goods for a Good Cause. 

Bark for Books was an initiative that sought to provide local schools with books and the community with an opportunity to give back to their education system. Throughout the year, customers were encouraged to drop off new and used books in-store and receive a discount on pet food and supplies. 

Goods for a Good Cause focused on providing canned goods to those in need within the community. Customers brought in canned goods to support those in need, and the hosting retailer was able to increase foot traffic in their store. 

With comprehensive marketing support from The VAN LEUVEN Company, these events were successful in not only doing good, but also increasing foot traffic for the retailers organizing them, creating awareness of the business, and garnering positive publicity and customer loyalty within their communities. 

Event Support from The VAN LEUVEN Company—a Full-Service Marketing Agency in Knoxville, TN 

For the independent retailer wanting to increase store traffic, hosting events is a creative way to engage with your customers and create long-lasting relationships that breed customer loyalty. Events do not have to be expensive or time consuming, and with the right event support team, you can make your next event a success. 

At The VAN LEUVEN Company, we have over 22 years of experience supporting our clients’ events, and we support thousands of events every year. We understand that you are busy with the day-to-day of running your business, and you need a team that can help your events succeed by providing marketing support every step of the way. Our VLC Event Bundle Program fully supports 4 events in 2024, providing you with the marketing materials needed to promote your event and bring customers into your store. 

Learn more about how the VLC Team can help you increase store traffic with comprehensive event support by contacting us at events@thevanleuvencompany.com or 1 (800) 520-1834 today.