How to use traffic data to build apparel store service levels and boost conversions during power hours
‘Power hours’ provide fashion stores with a traffic adrenaline rush that can really pep up the bottom line. Visitor numbers peak at these lucrative, busiest times of the day; the shop floor is buzzing and customers are wide open to conversion. So how can fashion stores glam-up their offer, and maximise the opportunity?
The gloss of data insight
Fashion store managers with access to traffic data will know exactly when their regular weekly power hours are, how many customers to expect, typical conversion rates, and how long dwell times tend to be. These insights provide the necessary tools to polish up service levels when it matters most.
Store teams will also be aware of when seasonal power hours crop up across the retail calendar — so perhaps 1pm to 2pm on the Saturday before Mother’s Day, or 4pm to 6pm on Black Friday are significant times. Such data insights give retailers the competitive advantage of knowing what to expect and how to push the boundaries of customer service and marketing prowess to boost store performance.
Here are five ways to pep up power hour execution for fashion, apparel and footwear stores, with the aim of seeing dwell time, conversions and Average Transaction Sizes (ATS) grow:
1. Focused customer service panache
One reason why retail traffic data has come into existence is that retailers want to provide better experiences for customers. Part of how that’s done is by ensuring the right customer service levels throughout each day, and at no time is this more important than the power hours when traffic numbers are up, and shoppers’ inclination to buy is high. If your store is not ready for action as the power hour minutes tick by, you can disappoint and alienate a large audience in a very short space of time.
If the store team is totally tuned into the power hours of each day – making sure stock looks its best, store technology is working, teams are ready to serve and sell – the chance to impress the largest number of people in a small timeframe can be realised. Remember that additional services such as helping customers choose and order from a digital catalogue in-store, and click and collect operations, must be primed for this time. Ongoing traffic and conversion data will show how efforts to fine-tune service are impacting the store performance, and how that store compares with others in similar locations.
2. Schedule your top-notch sales people
It makes sense to allocate more team members, and perhaps the most experienced sales associates, for the peaks, so that specialist selling can take place when there are plenty of shoppers in store. ShopperTrak’s consultants know from hand on experiences, that if you align schedules with demand, sales will go up.
With enough historical data, it’s also possible to predict traffic patterns and create schedules further in advance. By scheduling the top-selling store assistants during power hours, and making sure back-of-store tasks are not carried out at this important time, positive results can be seen. Some retail groups identify sales people who are ‘sprinters’ (those who deal with customers’ needs very swiftly and efficiently) or ‘marathoners’ (those who take time and are very successful at upselling and building long-term loyalty). A strategy to use a mix of both during power hours might prove to deliver the best conversion results. Traffic data can show the way.
This foresight also produces a sense of stability in stores, where staff can see that resourcing is planned to help them cope with busy and stressful times, and to play to their individual strengths.
3. Sweep away the shopper obstacles
When stores are full of committed apparel shoppers – people browsing, selecting and trying on clothes – obstacles that stop them from progressing on the buying journey are a complete no-no. For example, a merchandiser setting up a new window display or in-store product presentation will need to complete that task well before, and certainly not during power hours. Physical aspects of the store that might hamper shoppers’ comfort, for example unnecessary shelving or too many clothing racks, should be designed out of the store layout.
Shopper traffic data tracked over time, or benchmarked across store groups with different layout configurations, will make it clear what helps and what hinders conversions during peak shopping times. It’s important to position your aisles, hotspots, till points and fitting rooms with ease of passage for shoppers front of mind. It’s also worth walking your store as a customer to see if you can spot any obstructions.
4. Tailor promotions to your power hours
There is no doubt that fashion shoppers love a good deal. That’s precisely why it’s always worth setting up promotions in-store and making sure these deliver high returns during power hours. If you have a half price deal on jeans or a winter coats range where stock is limited, be sure to have inventory primed, so there’s no risk of missing sales and disappointing shoppers.
Staff should be on hand and prepared with product information when delivering a promotion during power hours, with a plan to upsell across accessories, underwear and shoes, for example. If you have promotion signage in the store window, use traffic data to see how many conversions this achieves during the busy times, and whether it can be improved. It may pay with ‘3 for 2’ deals – perhaps on summer T shirts or swimwear – to create a well-staffed dedicated area in the store to encourage power hour shoppers to spend longer choosing their items, away from the general business of the rest of the store.
5. Host events and product showcases
Another simple way to encourage your power hour customers to spend more time and money in-store is to set up fashion shows, or demonstrations that will entertain and engage, giving store teams a greater timeframe to convert this committed audience. Retailers including Tommy Hilfiger and Zara have pushed the boundaries of store events in recent years. Some stores – for instance White Stuff in the UK – simply offer a small seating area with free drinks to provide added customer comfort and a reason to dwell. Meanwhile JD Sports and Urban Outfitters host live DJ sets to entertain their customers whilst they shop.
There’s every chance that power hours will be stretched by these hosted events and in-store elements. By successfully connecting with shoppers, retailers can expect an increase in same-day sales and even a change in long-term purchasing habits.
These are just a few suggestions of ways to boost service and engagement when it matters most in store. The main objective in planning for power hours is to elevate the customer experience, giving browsers more reasons to convert.
With so much choice in the online and offline worlds today, customer loyalty can be incredibly fleeting and fragile. Don’t lose it by failing to deliver the experience your biggest fans crave, at the time they’re ready to spend.