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  May 5th, 2021 | Written by

Reinventing Retail: 6 Ways Retailers Can Drive Customers Back In-Store

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  • One of the best ways to get customers to return is by giving them a tangible, monetary reward.
  • The harsh reality is that consumers are lazy—and they’ve been trained to become even lazier.
  • To get customers back in-store, you have to reach them where they are, and that means digital.

We’re about to experience one of the biggest booms in the history of retail. As the world continues to recover and stabilize, we are entering unimaginable levels of consumer spending. By all predictions, the second half of 2021 will result in a highly competitive race between marketing investment and retail spending that will fuel unprecedented retail expansion.

The last 16 months have led to dramatic changes to the retail landscape and consumer expectations overall. The global pandemic has shuttered many retail operations and crippled the in-store experience. It’s no surprise that customers not stepping foot in-store is a massive and multi-faceted problem for retailers.

No retailer could have predicted the current situation and the preceding events that brought us here, but that’s all about to change. With the global economy on the verge of breakthrough growth, now is the time to reflect and reinvent retail to attract consumers, bring them back in-store, and capitalize on the massive opportunity that lies ahead.

Here are six ways retailers can drive customers back in-store to reinvigorate growth.


Start With A Fresh Perspective

Before a wave of customers floods your store, it’s essential to start with a fresh perspective.

What drives your customers? Why would they want to come in and shop? What have they been missing over these last 16 months?

No amount of tactics will help attract customers in-store unless you can provide what they’re looking for—and delight them in the process.

Being fully stocked with the latest SKUs, along with having updated displays and a revitalized interior, are the bare minimum to motivating customers to set foot in-store. In addition, having enough staff available to provide prompt and friendly service is essential.

Give Them A Reason To Visit

Many customers will need an incentive to justify coming back in-store, so give them one. Whether it’s exclusive discounts, priority access to limited-quantity items, a loss leader, or a free bonus for stopping by, make sure that you give customers a reason to visit.

Remember that not all customers want the same thing, so you’ll need to use various incentives to cater to the different types of customers you have. In addition, you can use triggers like new products, inventory restocks, customer birthdays, or other events to solicit customers to stop in. Starbucks does this exceptionally well with their rewards program where they offer double points (called stars) based on the customer’s purchase history and behavior.

Amazon Prime delivers unparalleled (and frankly unbelievable) delivery times on many products, but often even overnight shipping is too long for customers to wait. Retailers can play to their advantage by promoting in-store availability on products that customers are eager to have the same day.

Do everything you can to find creative and personalized ways to motivate customers to come back in-store. There is no silver bullet; you must regularly test new ideas and offers to see how customers respond.

Create A Memorable Customer Experience

When customers return in-store, you must deliver a memorable and favorable experience. This experience could include creative point-of-purchase displays, free samples, or self-checkout. Think about the experience you want customers to have and find ways to surprise and delight them at every touchpoint.

Trader Joes is famous for its exceptional customer experience. There are many stories of employees giving free flowers to customers who are going through challenging times. Similarly, Chick-fil-a is world-renown for its impeccable operational process and unheard-of attitude and kindness.

It’s not enough to deliver the same experience as you did before. Level up your customer experience by defining new procedures that will make your customers leave the store happier than when they entered.

Drive Traffic From Digital To In-Store

To get customers back in-store, you have to reach them where they are, and that means digital. Use your social channels to get the word out and stay current with customers. Similarly, your email marketing and website should both generate awareness and in-store visits.

Paid digital advertising is incredibly effective for reaching the right customers at the right time. Two of the most powerful digital advertising capabilities are targeting specific customer segments and testing offers and incentives to see which work best.

Use your digital marketing wisely and ensure it plays a cohesive role in helping drive awareness and foot traffic to your locations.

Retrain Your Customers

The harsh reality is that consumers are lazy—and they’ve been trained to become even lazier. Delivery and curbside pickup have become mainstream, and many consumers prefer this convenience over setting foot in a store.

You have to retrain customers how to shop with your business, which means cutting back on the convenience factor. To drive in-store visits, you must create an experience where the past of least resistance—and highest value—is through the door.

All of the tactics mentioned above can help create such an experience, but the key takeaway here is to make sure you’re not cannibalizing your efforts. Any curbside and delivery options should include flyers or catalogs that help customers understand what’s available in-store and why it’s worth their time and effort.

Keep Them Coming Back

Getting customers back in-store will require effort—and you want to make sure you maximize your chances of customers coming back and telling others to do the same.

One of the best ways to get customers to return is by giving them a tangible, monetary reward. Kohl’s is famous for “Kohl’s Cash” which is essentially a voucher for a fixed amount of money that you can apply to your next purchase within the specified redemption period. The key detail being the redemption period, which is always a week or two in the future—meaning you have to come back again to use it.

In addition to generating return visits, consider why a customer would spread the word and tell others to stop in. Small gestures go a long way, and anything you can do to help customers become advocates will add up incrementally to drive a sustainable increase in in-store visits.

It’s Time To Reinvent Your Approach To Retail

Now is the time to reinvent your approach to retail. The world has changed, and there is no returning to normalcy. There was no advanced warning of how drastically retail would be affected and the long-lasting impacts the pandemic would bring. Treat this as your forewarning of the opportunity that lies ahead.

Customers are tired of the predictable retail experience, and you must invest in creating an innovative experience that can satisfy customer demands while exceeding their expectations.

The retailers who prepare and invest in the reinvention of retail will thrive and experience unprecedented levels of customer acquisition, satisfaction, and retention. Retail will never look the same again—and that’s a good thing for those who are willing to evolve.


Tim Parkin, President of Parkin Consulting, is a consultant, advisor, and coach to marketing executives globally. He specializes in helping marketing teams optimize performance, accelerate growth, and maximize their results.

By applying more than 20 years of experience merging behavioral psychology and technology seamlessly, Tim has unlocked rapid and dramatic growth for global brands and award-winning agencies alike.

He is a speaker, author, and thought leader who is featured frequently in industry publications. Please visit for more information on Tim’s services and his private community of marketing executives.