Retail Recovery: Driving in-store conversions when footfall is low

As lockdown restrictions have relaxed and more people are allowed to go back to work, commuter numbers have massively declined. In fact, the City of London has been described by the chairman of the Business Growth Fund as a ghost town, where “you could almost see the tumble weeds”. And even the UK’s most iconic retail destinations are suffering. Regent Street, which has 7 flagships, including Apple, Burberry, Superdry and Hollister, received 9000 pedestrians per hour in 2017. However, even after the first full month of re-opening post-lockdown, footfall is still down 73% year-on-year for the same period. This is echoed in other city centres across the UK.

With travel restrictions limited between the US, Asia and Europe, it’s become difficult to attract the type of high-spending tourists that are heavily relied upon in London during the summer months. Historic towns like Oxford and Cambridge are also some of the hardest hit; both attracting around 8 million visitors each year pre-covid. All these areas are seeing a decline in footfall of around 70%.

Perhaps the locations trading most successfully are commuter towns that are seeing a resurgence in visitors that would ordinarily be travelling into the city. However even in areas where retail in bouncing back, they are still seeing a 50% decrease in footfall from last year.

Combat low footfall by maximising conversion rates

In our latest “Retail Recovery Plan” eBook, we looked at the challenges of diminished footfall. While we’re seeing fewer shoppers hitting the high street, we are also seeing more shopping with purpose. These shoppers are selecting a small number of shops to buy a longer list of items, meaning that they are more likely to buy multiple items in one visit.

With footfall low and recovering at a slow but steady pace, it’s important to focus on in-store conversion. Retailers need to make the most of every single potential customer that walks through the doors. There are some really simple ways to improve conversion rate and maximise sales during the Covid-19 crisis.

Queue management in & outside the store

In post lockdown Britain we’ve become accustom to queuing. Whether it’s socially distanced queues for the tills, lining up outside the supermarket or a one in one out system at a local coffee shop, it’s now part of everyday life.

Queuing, while an important tool to help curb the spread of Covid-19, can be off-putting to consumers and make them less likely to complete a purchase or even enter a store.

In a report published by Box Technologies and Intel before the outbreak, it found that if a queue had 7 people or more, most shoppers won’t bother joining it. 86% of shoppers said they’d avoid the store if the queue was too long, and most shoppers say they would only stand in a queue for 6 minutes before they would abandon their purchase.

Queues are inevitable, so it’s important that retailers manage them effectively to create a more comfortable shopping experience. Non-essential retailers like Next have implemented a supermarket style one-way system, and Primark have added multiple smaller queues outside stores so that it’s easy for passers-by to navigate the queue.

Retailers should make sure their store windows are as inviting as possible, windows are clean, and staff members on doors are enthusiastic and take the time to engage with customers to create a pleasant experience. Rain covers and sunshades mean that shoppers can queue no matter the weather. Queuing customers should be thought of as a “captive audience” and a chance to boost sales and conversion.  

Digitise health and safety checks

It’s fantastic to see that the percentage of UK consumers returning to the high street is increasing – even if it is a little slower than many of us hoped. However, the most important thing to remember is that we are still in a global health crisis and the safety of employees and customers must be at the forefront of every retailer’s mind.

And yet, it’s one thing to create a great set of health and safety policies, but it’s another thing to know if they are implemented correctly. Whether it’s increasing the frequency of handwashing and surface cleaning, queue management or a one-way system – you need to know that every employee and every store is compliant.

If your health and safety measures are implemented incorrectly or haphazardly this could negatively affect your brand image. Even when the crisis is over, it’s likely that they will still associate your brand with lower standards.

In order to get a handle on your health and safety you need to monitor daily health and safety form completion, task completion and response rates, time to compliance and compliance to photo requests. The only way to do this is through digitising these processes.

Train your staff for a better store experience

Employees have a huge role in boosting conversion rates – particularly in this time of coronavirus. But for store teams to drive sales there are two areas that retailers need to focus on.

Firstly, it’s imperative store teams feel safe and comfortable at work. They need to be provided with the adequate safety equipment and procedures in store, so they can concentrate on what they do best – selling to customers.

Secondly, it’s important to train store teams on these new procedures that are being put in place. The best way to do this is with engaging and relevant training.

At StorIQ, we’ve spent the last few months of lockdown building a Learning Management System (LMS) to help support retailers empower their store teams in this time of recovery.

Retail teams can easily create training courses, with engaging content and quizzes for store teams complete. It’s easy to use, and works perfectly alongside the StorIQ Enterprise application

To find out more about the StorIQ LMS you can request a demo with the team. We’ll show you how it works, and we can support you to empower your store teams.


If you’d like to know more about the StorIQ LMS then please get in touch – we’d love to talk!