In our recent post Back to School Traffic Patterns Vary by Region, we pointed out that week-to-week traffic fluctuations in August were tied to school start dates, with traffic peaking the week before the school started. We also observed another common phenomenon: when traffic increased, conversion and average transaction size took a tumble.
The first two weeks of August had more traffic than the last two weeks – 51.8% of total vs. 48.2%. Conversion, however, was 160 basis points lower than it was during the second half of the month, when traffic was just 48.2% of total August traffic. Average transaction size was also nearly 4% lower during the heavier traffic period.
To retailers who closely monitor their traffic, store conversion, and average transaction size, this insight will come as no surprise. During periods of heavy traffic, the shopping experience is most likely to be affected. The sales floor may be messier and not restocked, making it difficult to find merchandise. Sales associates are busier and less able to interact with each and every customer, and lines at the cash wrap tend to be longer.
There doesn’t always have to be this tradeoff. Here are three ways that you can avoid the high traffic/low store conversion/low transaction size conundrum.
- Monitor your store performance in real time to ensure all hands are on deck when traffic peaks. Sometimes a surge in traffic happens quickly and without warning. By monitoring traffic, conversion and average transaction size in real time, you can know in the moment when people come in and adapt to ensure that the quantity and quality of your sales don’t suffer.
- Train your associates to interact with all shoppers, even when assisting a customer. Sometimes a simple, “Welcome – take a look around and I’ll touch base with you in just a moment” can mean the difference between a sale and an empty-handed shopper leaving your store. Getting your sales staff comfortable with juggling multiple clients is the key to retail success during busy times.
- Implement a queue management system to ensure that you are properly staffed at checkout. When lines are long, customers are likely to abandon their baskets and leave without making a purchase. By understanding how long the checkout process takes and getting the right number of people to man the registers, you can avoid abandonment and boost your store conversion.
The retailers who can figure out how to succeed when the traffic opportunity is the highest will have increased revenue and happier customers – a win-win for all!