Let’s face it, if you own a retail store merchandising, promotions, increased ticket size, and all the inside magic cannot help you if you do not get enough butts through the door. Bottom line, you need buyers, and the magic starts with getting them to cross the threshold into your domain. Here is how we helped Toasted Pixie increase their foot traffic by 40% month after month over the course of a year, and a result helped increase total sales in the store by over 100%!
So you need more retail foot traffic.
Sorry, that was not a question. That is a fact. The good news is – if you are in a high-traffic area, like Toasted Pixie (a mall, a retail strip, or main street) then on most days, the problem is already partially solved for you. This is one of the reasons we love retail dense areas. 50% of your problem is how many feet are ALREADY walking by.
Whether you are in a mall that was designed to bring the traffic for you, or in a rich outdoor space where people love to walk, and likely work – the fact that there is something to do, and something to see establishes a great base for getting you part of the way to amazing foot traffic.
Your job is the other half of the equation. How do you get the rest of the people who are not already coming to your area to make the trip down? If you do not think it is possible, then ask yourself when the last time you ended up a mall or at the local entertainment strip because of something specific. Dinner anyone? How about that must have drink? Maybe it is that t-shirt that someone said they got at the mall? Any way you slice it – whether you realize it or not, you have the power to influence people to come to your “main street” and look just for you.
You need foot traffic, just like Toasted Pixie did. Toasted Pixie had a real problem when we started working with them. Big Disclaimer: our parent company owns Toasted Pixie. We want you to know that though, because we want you to know we aren’t just a blow hard marketing company that thinks we can help retailers – we literally ARE and OWN our own main street retail operation. We learned by doing, by failing, by pivoting, and by ultimately finding out what works and what does not work. We listened to the experts, repeated what we could, and then worked hard to become experts in our own right.
We can tell you right away there is more foot traffic. The trick is becoming a destination in a destination. Do you have a lovely main street? Great, then you have to become a “must stop” visit on that main street venture. Toasted Pixie experienced this problem first hand. Sometimes, being close to the action just is not good enough.
Right Stuff. Wrong Place.
The story of Toasted Pixie’s venture into physical retail is one of luck, location, and learning. Toasted Pixie started its existence as an e-commerce only venture. Our parent company, SIMVISR had just opened its office space in Grand Junction, Colorado in the fall of 2019. At the time, our focus and that of our sister company Willow.ai was on e-commerce related marketing, businesses, and business intelligence.
It turned out that we were able to secure space in a former bank branch building that had over 12,000 square feet of office space, and some decent street facing frontage on a “near main street” road. The front 1,500 square feet had originally been a bank lobby in the 1970’s and earlier and had since been used as a series of “oversized” lobbies for the various companies that had made this building their home.
This new location allowed for Toasted Pixie to make a big change from being digital only, to stepping daringly into the hard world of storefront retail. This dated building proved not only a challenge for the work that needed to be done to prepare the space, but also a challenge because close sometimes is not close enough. A lesson that taught us the power of being a magnet to draw people to the area.
As an “off main” storefront Toasted Pixie quickly discovered the significant amounts of foot traffic in the area were not inclined to make the journey up the street, even though the store was only a half block from the main strip of businesses. This meant a very real problem, and a very real verification of the “location, location, location” rule. Despite having great pricing for being near main, and near where people walk the reality simply was that being off main meant that none of that foot traffic, or very little, would makes its way to Toasted Pixie‘s doors.
Enter DEVUPP Studio
At the time, DEVUPP Studio was primarily focused on developing captivating mobile applications and providing marketing for e-commerce companies. When Toasted Pixie moved into their own retail space we earned a new challenge. How do we help the people walking up and down main street make their way the half-block to our front doors?
It was not an easy problem, and the majority of recommendations out there on the Internet in 2019 were much more suggestive of how to bring in traffic to service companies, and from around a local area, not in a specific local area (like people already walking main street, or already in the mall). This is where the first “use case” of our geeks and hipsters working together brought fruit.
First, I should explain what we mean by geeks and hipsters. When we started working in the e-commerce world we found two things to be true. First, people reacted better, stayed longer, and purchased more from aesthetically pleasing websites. Second, we could tell ourselves anything we wanted to hear if we did not have the data to answer the questions. The second part there is the most important. You see as it turned out, the first line was not always true.
Geeks and Hipsters, Explained.
In our world, the geeks represent the data, analytics, business intelligence, and artificial intelligence. The hipsters represent design, experience, and holistic approach to flow. One without the other is really pointless. You can create amazing, beautiful, slow, well architected websites and open them to an audience of no one. You can spend thousands attracting people, only to have them bounce away because a page or two does not load fast enough. You can guide them through your shopping experience only to have them horrified by your shipping prices and run for the hills with an abandoned cart. Without the data, it is all a guess as to why.
The same as it turns out is true for real storefronts. We spared no expense building out a beautiful space, organizing it, creating a great flow, and designing an in-store shopping experience that would rival big competitors. It did not matter. Without the bodies walking only 50 feet away from us, there was no one to experience what we had made. The hipsters had done their jobs, but the data folks had not yet even started.
Data To The Rescue
For us, it turned out that looking at the data was the answer to the problem. It also turned out that looking at the data took using our human experience to see main street. Our first aim was to find the stores where people always went in. They walked by and something – an a-frame sign, something in the window, a wonderful scent drew them into the store.
We knew we could not duplicate the “look, feel, or smell” to draw people half a block. This meant we had to take advantage of someone else’s foot traffic. This turned out to be easier than we expected. A busy coffee shop provided our first foray into “borrowed foot traffic.” We realized, after walking main street, and seeing where people were going this coffee shop had a distinct advantage. They always had great signage, a wonderful smell, and a great atmosphere. A huge shout out to Kiln Coffee Bar, our first borrowed traffic site.
This is where a little local SEO, social media magic, and networking granted us our first regular customers. We walked into Kiln, purchased several rounds of gift cards over several weeks, and started giving them out. First on social media, we tagged them when we could, and where it was appropriate. DEVUPP Studio interacted with their customers, and offered up those gift certificates as a reward to take the few tiny steps necessary to go off the beaten “main street” path down to our shop.
Holy Local SEO Bat Dude.
We then dug in on local SEO tactics to catch people who were searching for directions to this shop, or more information about it. Our team capitalized on the connections we made and started collecting phone numbers, emails, followers, and whatever we could to convince more people it was worth the trip to walk up the street.
Where does data come in you ask? It was visual data. What store is full, all the time. What store has people standing, chatting, spending time there? Where could we get a crowd that LOOKED like the crowd we wanted? Under the hood, this activity was WAY more complex than I just let on.
Know Thy Market, Know Thyself
DEVUPP Studio‘s real challenge was to identify the actual buying market for Toasted Pixie. It meant deeply analyzing the online market of who had previously purchased products, looking at what products were popular, and dissecting Toasted Pixie‘s existing social media followers.
This allowed us to identify the real target market of buyers. Once that had been done, it was a matter of finding the highest traffic store on main street that had our look-alike audience of buyers, had a way for us to “borrow” that foot traffic, and had owners we could connect with and look for other potential ways to share business in the future, for the betterment of both companies.
Wow Mom, their audience matches our audience – and we don’t even sell the same thing.
In the end, it was Kiln Coffee Bar that had our audience, or audiences. We identified three large target markets for Toasted Pixie. The first, college students. They tended to buy specific product from Toasted Pixie, of a more “slightly offensive” type humor. The second was women over 50. This group enjoyed the same humor, and some of the products that poked fun at drinking – like the “Shut up Liver, You’re Fine” tea towels. The final group, working age professionals, and usually married, was our bread and butter. This group, consisted mostly of couples who would look at our products, laugh together, and then buy something for someone who “just had to have it.”
It turned out Kiln Coffee Bar was filled with all three of these target markets. A walk up and down main street visiting all of our neighbors verified this for us. This meant that all the data we tore into had a quick and easy payoff.
What’s the Moral of the Story?
The moral is simple, and the ending is great. In the end – Toasted Pixie was able to move its operations from off main to right smack dab in the middle of main. The store went from an invisible brick fronted “fun” gift shop to a must-stop, we have to go in there, its on the way anyway destination. Though they did not win the “Best of the West” competition this year, they were at least nominated, and for two categories! A big stop for a small new retailer on the way to getting noticed.
The increase in sales from more traffic was well worth it. The increase in sales from the ability to move to a better location was the real payoff. Now, Toasted Pixie is using some of that main street power to give back to smaller startups. They are leaning into the power of share, and inviting other startups to come an participate in their space – creating new relationships, giving a hand up to those who are just started. For instance, this week – Toasted Pixie invited Earth’s Scented Soapz to setup a table at no cost in front of the store during the last Market on Main of the season.
The point is simple – DEVUPP Studio‘s goal, the reason for this story, and the reason for all of us to work together is for all of us to THRIVE. So let us help you thrive. Get in touch with us today. Call a nerd, call a hipster, heck – call our cat. We all want to help.
Thank you for the time reading our little story about Toasted Pixie and improving foot traffic. It is not the same for every company. For every company there is an opportunity. I can assure you our geeks and hispters can and will find it, and help you make the most of it – whatever your goals.