With customers returning to the high-street, how can retail businesses attract more customers through a positive shopping experience?


It hasn’t been an easy time for retail over the past 18 months. Despite the recent increases in footfall, attracting customers remains a challenge

While not being simple, it’s doable. Here’s our top tips for getting boots on the ground once more.

This image illustrates a woman shopping with a mask who is therefore concerned with Covid

Find the balance between shopping experience and keeping people safe

Despite good vaccination rates, covid transmissions still remain a concern for many. Around 25% of people in the UK suffer from underlying health conditions which can result in more serious illness from covid.

When you include friends and family of such individuals, there is a large proportion for whom precautions are still required. So, as a store owner you need to take steps to address these concerns.

The issue here is that if you go too far, e.g limiting numbers in shops and forcing all customers to wear masks you risk losing them and damaging sales. It’s important to remember for many, the shopping experience is still the most important thing.

Finding the fine line

Exactly which rules you implement can be difficult to figure out. What’s important is that you are able to provide a sense of security without hurting your chances of people sticking around to shop. A couple of simple ideas are:

1)  Having readily available and clearly signposted hand sanitiser around the store

2) Making sure at least one till has an individual wearing PPE or a plastic shield for those more concerned about transmission


    Make the shopping experience comfortable

    Some people shop because they need things. It’s a slog, a necessary task to maintain the wealth of items we seem to need to navigate modern capitalism.

    When asked pre-covid why people preferred online shopping reasons such as convenience and range of options ranked highly.

    Add the threat of coronavirus into the mix and it’s no surprise that online shopping has continued its ascendancy. Winning over these customers won’t be easy.

    But, If you can provide a pleasurable experience with as many home comforts as possible you stand a good chance as any.

    Somewhere to relax

    For larger shops and department stores especially, offering something beyond the products on the shelves will play a huge part.

    For example, tapping into our nation’s obsession with hot drinks by having coffee points with snacks for shoppers provides a perfect opportunity to recharge.

    Now all you need to do is to make sure you have some nice soft furnishings for shoppers to kick back after a tough few hours perusing your wares.

    Sights, sounds and smells

    On a more basic level, ensuring that you provide a pleasant sensory experience can’t be overlooked. Getting music at comfortable levels and colour schemes right is vital.

    Nothing is going to make someone question why they left the house faster than loud music and garish hues. A nice smell won’t go amiss either.

    This image shows the ability to try before you buy

    Remind them why they enjoy the shopping experience

    For others the shopping experience is half of the fun. Even in the age of Covid, in store shopping is still very much the preferred option for many people. It’s vital that you remind your customers of why they love it in the first place.

    Customer service

    When you’re shopping online you don’t always have someone on hand to speak to. If your store has an abundance of happy and helpful twenty somethings then make sure customers know.

    Highlighting this fact in any correspondence with your base will reinforce the value that your physical store has to offer.

    Exclusive deals

    If your business needs boots on the ground, give them a good reason to come in.

    When people shop they’re always looking for a good deal and no better place to find this than on your shelves. You can even illustrate this when customers browse online, highlighting that a better price is available in-store.

    Instant gratification

    When shopping online, one of the main drawbacks is the delivery time. In today’s lightning fast world, 2-3 days can seem like an awfully long time.

    Remind your customers of this. Whether it’s messages in store or pop-ups online, nothing is faster than taking something to the till.

    Try / see before you buy

    Ah the ritualistic trying or feeling of the item pre-purchase. Sometimes there may be little intention of even buying it, it’s just nice to hold. There is of course also the practical aspect, reducing the chances of getting the wrong size.

    Highlight this pre-purchase to tempt customers in and on return slips. Perhaps suggesting to come in store and try on a new size..

    Environmental concerns

    If there’s one regular criticism levied against the world of online shopping, it’s the environmental impact. Delivery, next-day options and returns all contribute to carbon emissions.

    Much of the time these items are available in store, so make sure customers know this. You will need to handle it deftly. But by illustrating that in-store offers a more guilt free experience, you can help footfall numbers and the environment.


    Do something out of the ordinary

    The key is in the word shopping ‘experience’. You can offer all of these things to make people feel comfortable, safe or absolved from environmental guilt.

    What they won’t always do is make you stand out from the crowd. Providing unique and authentic occasions will do wonders to remind people why they ventured out of their cosy flats.

    Having a 24/7 cabaret show on the shop floor may be a little unfeasible. Spontaneous touches however will keep punters on their toes. For example live music to promote a new range of clothing or a flash mob for no other reason than people seem to like them.

    Most important is that these added touches don’t interfere with the day to day running of the shop. When done well they can add a bit of something extra at a time when you need it most.