Upselling Advice

Impulse items: Tips & Tricks

In every retail store, encouraging customers to buy on impulse is a tried-and-true way to boost average purchase value. Impulse buying goes way back, and it’s still overwhelmingly common — some 77% of shoppers say they’ve made a spontaneous impulse purchase in the past three months.

Despite the fact that so much of our shopping has moved online, brick-and-mortar retailers still account for 79% of impulse buys. Until now, creating appealing online impulse buying areas has been a challenge but we've carefully crafted our impulse area to redirect and maximize your customers' attention without distracting them from their main path to checkout.

From talking with both online and brick-and-mortar retailers, successfully encouraging impulse buying comes down to a few main factors:

  • Choosing the right products,
  • Putting them in the right place, and
  • Grabbing shopper attention.

We pulled together these trusty tactics you can use to boost the frequency and value of impulse purchases in your retail store.

Choose lower priced items

The average customer isn’t going to impulsively spend $1,000 without a second thought. That’s why price is one of the most important factors in choosing the right products to use for impulse displays. For checkout and point-of-purchase impulse buying, it’s best to keep all products under about $20. That way, you can boost purchase values with products that customers are ready to buy without too much consideration.

Create urgency with a sale

Another way to keep impulse prices down is to use your impulse item area to display products that are on sale. Combining sale prices with the urgency of a limited-time promotion is a recipe for impulse buying.

Choose products that require little consideration

While it may seem obvious that high-priced products aren’t great for encouraging impulsivity, there’s more that goes into choosing the right impulse buys than just price. A high price can make shoppers pause before buying, but so can too many options.

That’s why the best impulse displays limit anything that requires the customer to decide between one option or another. For example, Old Navy’s flip-flops are brightly colored and inexpensive, so they might seem like a perfect impulse buy in the summer. But an upsell with 50 different color choices can overwhelm customers and make them hesitate long enough to reconsider the impulse.

So, be deliberate in your product choices. Curate a few select items to populate your upsell area so customers don’t have to spend too long choosing between different color or size variations. Ideally, choose products without variants so that no additional choice needs to be made on your customers' part.

Offer product samples or demos

Not every retail store can offer samples or demos of their products, but for those that can, they can go a long way in convincing shoppers to buy something they didn’t plan on. By giving shoppers a small taste (actual or metaphorical) of products, you can boost impulse buying.

In person, food sample stations throughout Whole Foods are a great example of this concept. You may not have come in looking for vegan muffins, but if you get a taste, you might not leave the store without them. Sephora’s makeovers are another perfect case study of retailers offering demos. Shoppers who come in to buy foundation might just fall in love with the lip stain employees put on them.

This concept can apply online as well where retailers can offer things like small sample packs for popular product categories.

Showcase seasonal items

I don’t know about you, but when I go through a checkout line with seasonal decor, scented candles, or hand soap, I’m sold. Seasonal items are one of the best choices for your checkout and impulse displays because they tap into that sense of urgency — seasonal products are inherently available for a limited time.

Choosing to showcase seasonal impulse items also makes it easy to switch up your set of impulse items, which is key to getting sales from repeat customers who may have seen your set of impulse items multiple times.

Anticipate your customers’ needs

When we talk about products that are impulse buys, we aren’t talking about a concrete or defined set of items. The products that your customers buy impulsively might be the same products as your neighbor stores — or they might be completely different.

In summary

Your best bet is to choose products that are:

  • Under about $20
  • On sale
  • Have no variants (no additional decisions)
  • Sample packs
  • Limited time (ex: seasonal)
  • Relevant to your target audience