Even before the pandemic, the footfall in town centres was decreasing. This was due to a shift in the way that consumers shop. Online shopping is worth around £106.46 billion each year in the UK and that figure is only heading in one direction.
The good news is there are many ways for Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) to replicate that convenience and excitement in the physical store environment. Accessible WiFi, contactless payments and a more customer-centric approach are just a few of the ways you can start increasing footfall for your town.
Prioritise Customer Engagement
Subverting customer expectations and offering experiences beyond the normal shopping spree is crucial. Don’t just offer the same run-of-the-mill retail offering as everyone else. Launch effective pop-up shops, experiential marketing and provide live product demonstrations to tempt customers into your town centre.
When visiting the high street, shoppers are far more likely to stick around when there’s an engaging activity to occupy them. In fact, 73% of customers are more likely to spend more too, which is a great opportunity for local businesses featured in the BID to take advantage of.
Generation Z has a dwindling attention span of eight seconds, so it’s more important than ever to offer something truly immersive that grabs their attention. Anything that attracts customers or makes your store memorable can help increase footfall traffic and keeps those shoppers coming back.
Ultimately, prioritising customer engagement is what’s going to turn your town centre into a destination of choice, not habit. Communicating these benefits in your proposal effectively will encourage buy-in from the businesses who the BID will include.
Seamless Shopping Experience
The rise in contactless payments illustrates shoppers want a fast and effective shopping experience. This seamless approach is something you need to consider in your next BID proposal.
Click and collect was the first example of a more streamlined experience. If you don’t already offer quick, seamless card payment options, you’re falling behind. Three-quarters of adults in Britain have used less cash since the start of the pandemic. Even more of an incentive is a Visa study that estimated some businesses could save up to £6,000 by switching to card payments.
With many citing that coronavirus will be the death of cash, it’s vital to keep your town centre relevant in an increasingly cashless society.
Implement Free WiFi
Can your visitors access WiFi when they’re shopping in your town? If not, you’ll find they might cut their spree short or choose to shop somewhere else next time. WiFi is available on trains, in restaurants and at sports venues, why should town centres be any different?
Not only does the WiFi attract customers and keep them shopping, but it also provides valuable insights that retailers can leverage for future proposals. If stores know dwell times and high traffic areas, they can make more informed decisions that can drive revenue for all the businesses contributing to the BID.
How accurate are your footfall numbers? WiFi has become so advanced it can now recognise devices that have previously entered the high street and connected to the WiFi. So, when customers enter a retail space, their devices can automatically connect - without needing to do it themselves.
With the right tools in place, you can unlock valuable data. By looking at analytics like footfall, dwell times and user demographics holistically, you’ll have a better understanding of who is shopping on your high street. This helps you to personalise offers, understand your customer’s journey and engage with them when they need it most. It’s also unarguable evidence of what’s working in your town centre and what might need to be the focus on your next proposal.
Successful Implementation of a WiFi Network from a BID
The coastal town of Falmouth, although a frequent cruise ship destination, wanted to consolidate its position as a popular destination for all visitors. The Falmouth BID and Falmouth Town Council worked together to find a solution that would support high usage during peak visitor periods - which included investing in a WiFi solution.
Falmouth is now taking advantage of increased dwell time and footfall from visitors which has, in turn, helped local businesses involved in the BID. It’s been such a triumph, Falmouth Town Council is considering an expansion of the network. You can read more about this case study by clicking the link below.
To halt the decline we’ve seen on our high streets and pioneer regeneration, town centres need to embrace innovation and technology. Choose a solution that’s going to delight visitors and give businesses the insights they need to boost sales.
Regardless of if you want to utilise innovative solutions, attract tourists or simply stay afloat in the unforgiving retail environment, we can provide you with some insight to prosper.
Increase Footfall in Your Town Centre Using Innovation
Many town centres in the UK have already reaped the benefits of a successful retail regeneration strategy. Using innovative technology to increase insights, custom and footfall, they’ve taken steps to future-proof the high street.
Not sure what’s achievable? We’ve created our ‘Transform Your Town’ guide which details how businesses and shoppers can benefit from some rejuvenation. From towns that are already thriving to how to secure your place on the high street after the COVID-19 dust settles, get access by downloading the guide below.