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What physical stores can learn from their digital counterparts after the pandemic

By Kieran Sheridan-Lawler |



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February 1, 2021 | 5 min read

As many office workers across the country continue to work from home for the foreseeable future, their spending power is not fueling our city centre economies as it once did. Instead, purchasing power is being used online from the comfort of their own home from any device of their choosing. This has resulted in the death of the high street, but can it be resurrected post-pandemic?

It’s becoming clear that many of the work from home folk, me included, will likely want to keep some of this flexibility when offices open up again. Companies that don’t offer a flexible working policy or incentive of some kind will not be able to attract the best talent, nor keep it.

So, considering city centres and high streets may never be as busy as they once were, the question on the minds of many business owners will likely be: how will physical stores thrive post-pandemic?

digital counterparts

As many organisations have had to digitise quickly and evolve to meet new customer expectations in 2020, their boardroom meetings have also evolved, and not just through the use of Zoom. The conversations happening at the C-suite level of the biggest retailers in the UK have gone from asking about the monthly figures and local footfall statistics to website visitors, click-through rates and online conversions.

This detailed level of analytics isn’t new to digital marketers but will be to a lot of C-suite executives, who will eventually want and expect that same level of granularity when it comes to their physical stores. Not to compare to their online counterpart, but to use the data to drive internal decisions that can improve their stores’ revenues.

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So, what can we expect to report on in the future, and how can these metrics make stores more money?

Traffic to site equals traffic to store

Many physical stores currently report on footfall, however, often only analysing this data in terms of what it means for their revenue, and not what impact local brand awareness campaigns have on this figure.

As a digital marketer may run a Facebook campaign and monitor traffic to a site as a key metric, physical stores should look to run local awareness campaigns. This can be through the use of traditional and geographically targeted digital activity and measuring their in-store footfall as a result.

Conversion rate optimisation equals sales conversions

How many people who walk into a store actually buy something? In a pre-pandemic world where browsing a store was the norm, there are things that all physical stores can implement which will help in the purchasing of goods once customers are in the door.

Often studied under consumer psychology, a shopper’s surroundings can make a huge impact on making a purchase. Whether that be the music the store is playing in the background, the colour of the wall a customer is looking at, the scent chosen for the store, or the more obvious one: where you decide to place key products.

By split testing these variables and measuring what percentage of shoppers make a purchase will give your store a winning formula for success.

Click-through rate equals in-store promotions

Digital marketers love a click-through rate percentage. This basically means out of the number of impressions, how many people click our ads, search results or newsletters compared to how many don’t.

By offering prospective customers in-store promotions through the use of redeemable codes before their visit, store owners can track how effective that marketing activity was, and not just from a profitable point of view.

Kieran S-Lawler is head of marketing at Hallam.

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