Leveraging Vacant Shop Windows

The recession is hitting the High Street like nothing we’ve ever seen or are likely to see again. It’s a sort of High Street teraforming. A High Streetageddon.

Businesses with more than one store in a city are finding it hard to justify the premium of rent and have begun to reduce overheads by closing the doors on the less profitable outlets.

In the rush to shut stores a lot of the big brands are missing a trick. What I’m about to suggest won’t massively affect their sales or boost conversion but it is useful to their customers. It will help promote a better image of the company and hopefully loyalty.

For example, in response to severe problems, AllSaints have cut their portfolio of stores. Glasgow has gone from having three stores within two minutes walk of one another to having one store on the busiest shopping street in Glasgow: Buchanan Street.

Closed Store, Open to Misunderstanding

Here are their Google Places listings in the SERPS. Seem’s they’ve forgotten to update their listings and mark their stores as closed.

All Saints SERPS

All Saints local search listings in Google Places

A tourist or visitor to Glasgow, or someone who is less aware of their surroundings, might not realise that two AllSaints stores are closed and have been for some time.

That potential customer has a couple of options when arriving at a store which is closed. Break out Google maps on their mobile and tour each location until they find the one which is open or  just give up and go shopping at their next favourite brand.

With the economy the way it is, it is absolutely possible that if someone saw one store closed they could make the assumption that the company is gone entirely and move on to their competitor.

How can companies help the customer find them?

It’s simple and almost embarrassing when you think about it. Tell the person the location of their nearest open store. And if they don’t have one in the area point them to the online shop.

OK. That’s easy. Couple of vinyl window stickers and BOOM you’re sorted and many stores already do this.

Not exactly contemporary, though, is it? You can do so much better.

Drive traffic, enhance the experience

Here’s a list of things you’ll need:

  • QR Code
  • Google Maps
  • Landing Page
  • Call To Action

QR codes are free, Google Maps is free, landing pages are not free but aren’t particularly expensive. Calls to action – a good copywriter will nail this fast.

Here’s the current window:

allsaints shop window

I would have done something  like this:

new allsaints window

Use the the QR code on the left and you go to a bespoke landing page on the website which gives customers the nearest location, plus walking time, and a map with directions.

allsaints landing page

What makes the difference for the customer – the one person who can get you out of these tough times – is that you’ve done all you can to help them find what they are looking for. Just as a friendly retail assistant would do in store.

The customer will feel that you care. You understand what they want.

All I’m suggesting is common sense. I’d like to see more retailers adopt this (obviously some can’t due to contractual obligations with the unit) and do more to help customers spend their money with them and not their competitor.

Read more about High Street chain store closures in this morning’s BBC.

Search and Mobile enthusiast, like to tinker in apps, machine learning, big data and currently Python.

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