How can Australian retailers attract more traffic to their stores?

Australia’s retailers should develop new approaches to engaging their customers if they want their stores to remain busy, suggests ShopperTrak’s Adam Ioakim in an interview with The Sydney Morning Herald.

At first glance, the outlook for Australian retail might appear bleak; due to the late onset of winter, shopper footfall in 2016 was down on the previous year, and so far this year, traffic is already down -4.4% on a Year-on-Year basis. Factor in the collapse of a slew of high-profile retailers, forced out of business by rising costs and international competition, and it’s clear that Australia’s retailers might need to rethink how they are doing business.

Adam, ShopperTrak’s general manager for ANZ and South East Asia, says that although today’s shoppers are more cautious, and are increasingly opting to buy through multiple channels as well as in-store, there are real opportunities for Australia’s retailers. Although online sales are growing faster than bricks-and-mortar transactions, the channel still accounts for less than 15% of overall retail spend; so how can retailers ensure their stores attract a bigger share?

Adam suggests that there is “still a place for the physical store, yet these need to be adapted to become more experiential, which will drive people into stores”. Today’s shoppers visit stores to do more than just shop – so retailers should make sure they are providing vibrant, multifaceted destinations, adding value to the customer journey at every stage, to attract more of them. Adam cites the progressive examples of Cotton On, MJ Bale and Camilla as some of the country’s pioneers in this field.

There is also a need to tackle the discounting habit, which has grown to become an almost year-round phenomenon. Such an approach has become untenable as retailers’ costs have continued to rise. “It was only a few years ago that there would only be two major sales events per year, one after Christmas and one mid-year,” says Adam. “Nowadays customers walk into a store with the expectation of finding a great deal, or a product at a lower price point, and as a retailer this a very tough cycle to extract yourself from.”

The message is clear: to address demand, and maximise revenues, retailers should consider taking their stores, and their approach to selling, in new directions.

Read Adam’s opinions on how Australian retailers can rise to the challenges before them, and how ShopperTrak’s knowledge can help, in this article in The Sydney Morning Herald.

Data for this article comes from ShopperTrak’s Australian Retail Index. The index monitors footfall across more than 2,500 stores, painting a comprehensive picture of shopper habits across the country’s major cities.

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