If you’re a retailer, you’ve seen this phenomenon several times.
You store is empty. No customers. And it stays empty for long minutes (or even hours).
Then one customer enters. Then another. Others pass in front, look inside, and they enter too. Now, like magic, you have a store full of customers. And they keep coming in.
What’s going on?
Your answer is right — customers are attracted by stores with customers inside. And more customers mean more customers.
The reason for this phenomenon is “social proof”. Your customers are influenced by other customers. Basically they think:
“Hey! That store is crowded. There’s something going on. Let’s see what they found.”
Almost all retailers are aware of this. So why don’t they take advantage?
Most think: “Well, sometimes we are lucky, sometimes we’re not. Let’s hope they get in today”.
Well, I don’t agree. We can make our own luck.
There are two techniques to help you get a store full of customers:
- Hiring “actors”.
You can use your employees to simulate customers looking at products or talking to your salespeople.
This is a really old technique, used in the golden age of retail. But still very effective.
It has the advantage of also training your salesperson to sell without the pressure of real customers. And doesn’t cost you anything.
No customers in the store ?
Make half of your employees “customers”. But they must look like real customers. If it’s cold, they must wear a coat. Women should wear purses. Make them carry shopping bags from other stores or from your store (like good customers do). It sure helps to make a store full of customers.
I know it sounds weird to hire people to go to your store. Stay in the store for a while. Buy some products. And walk in the street with bags from your store.
But it can be effective. Of course, it has a cost — the cost of hiring these “actors”. So you have to make a test and see if it’s profitable.
From my experience, hiring “actors”, is effective when there are a lot of people in the streets, shopping. At hours or days without people outside, it’s difficult to make a profit.
Tip #1: Don’t tell “actors” exactly what you are doing. Say you’re making a social experiment. Or better, say it’s to train your salespeople, and at the same time, advertise your brand in the street.
Tip#2: By “actors” I don’t mean real actors. It could be anyone. Best results are achieved with people with similar ages from your target-customers.
Does your store have a parking for customers?
If it has, you could be watching the same phenomenon. If your parking lot has a lot of cars, people passing by car will think the store has a lot of customers, so it “must be a good store”.
Many retailers ask their employees to park their cars in the most distant places. This might be a good idea in most situations — leaving the best places for you customers — but not always.
What you can do is:
- At the beginning of the day, ask your employees to park in front of the store.
- Then, when customers start to park, ask your employees to park their cars in more distant places.
Are we cheating our customers?
Here are 4 reasons why these techniques are not for cheating our customers:
- This phenomenon already happens — you’ve seen it. You’re just maximizing it.
- This is a plan to put more customers inside, not to make them buy against their will. They only buy if they want.
- Customers feel happier when they buy from popular stores. They really believe they did a better choice.
- If it was for cheating our customers, I wouldn’t suggest it. I have a deep respect for customers. For me, customers are the most important asset of a business.
If you don’t use these techniques, you’re loosing an opportunity of selling more, and the opportunity of helping your customers.
You do believe in your products, don’t you? So why not selling them, instead of your competition?
Go for a store full of customers!
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