Three Ways Landlords Can Help Tenants Attract Retail Customers
Chief Executive at EastBanc, a multinational real estate development company headquartered in Washington, D.C.
Some think that the Covid-19 pandemic will be the final straw for brick and mortar retail after years of struggle. However, many of the challenges retail faces today — excess space leased at high term and rent, competition with e-commerce and how to provide the customer with a novel experience not found online — are not brand new — they’ve just been magnified by the crisis. In addition to those challenges, consumers are hesitant to shop indoors and in close proximity to strangers, a stark contrast from the highly social, experimental elements of brick and mortar shopping that were so desired before the pandemic.
Now more than ever, it is crucial for landlords to support their retailers by having direct conversations with tenants about their current challenges as well as their strategies and solutions for keeping customers safe. Now is the time to work together and strive for the retailer’s long-term success. Success is not only essential to landlords seeking to fight back vacancy, but it is crucial to tenants who do in fact need more than digital marketing campaign funnels for distribution of merchandise and relevance in a competitive space. While much of the burden is on the retailers’ shoulders, there are many ways that landlords can help drive traffic back to their tenants and make a large impact with a small budget.
1. Remove The Inconveniences Of Transportation
When New York City shut down in March 2020, over 90% of the subway’s 5.5 million riders stopped (paywall) riding, and ridership is still only 20% of pre-pandemic levels, according to the New York Times. Even as rideshare programs have grown in recent years, Uber said on a call with analysts last month that gross bookings on rides were down (paywall) 75% from April to June. Especially in metropolitan areas, the decreased use in public transportation can have a significant impact on the amount of foot traffic in downtown shopping districts. If you have garages or parking lots in your portfolio that you can afford to offer at a discount or for free for shoppers with proof of receipt, it removes a barrier to entry. Those struggling to find an efficient, affordable way to travel to a retail destination can then funnel the cost of parking directly to your retailers.
2. Develop A Social Media Influencer Campaign For Word-of-Mouth Marketing
While your retailers may boast their extensive cleaning and safety methods online, many shoppers are still wary of browsing in-person. Launching a social media influencer campaign is a great way to show consumers what the new in-store experience looks like using third-party sources that already have a strong local following. Whether its through an influencer or even an in-app ad, data shows that after seeing a product or service on Instagram, 79% of users searched for more information, 37% visited the retail store and 46% made a purchase. Paying the influencers via gift cards to be spent in the stores allows for the stores to benefit through both brand awareness and sales, while consumers can witness a firsthand experience of how safe and fun shopping still is.
3. Provide Consumers With Unique Shopping Experiences
Another way to encourage foot traffic in stores is to create unique shopping experiences and test different options to see which interest consumers most. Retailers have already begun offering private shopping appointments, online styling sessions, curbside pickup and other opportunities for consumers to shop in a way that makes them feel comfortable — while creating a customized experience. As a landlord, you can assist retailers in securing permits to expand into the street for a sidewalk sale or curbside pickup or by providing more space for customers waiting to enter the store.
As the effects of the pandemic continue to impact our local economies, we will continue to evolve our idea of what the new normal looks like. While tenants are thinking about how to move inventory and mitigate risk, it is important that landlords are also determining what their role in that recovery looks like beyond lease amendments and rent relief. There is not a one-size-fits-all solution to bringing customers back to brick and mortar, but by exploring different marketing tactics, landlords and tenants can work together to increase foot traffic and boost momentum in their communities.
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