7th Apr 2017

How Retailers Can Capture The Attention Of Impulse Shoppers

Impulse buying continues to be a huge contributor to revenue for both high street stores and ecommerce businesses, with thousands of people every day choosing to purchase items spontaneously without thinking too much about it first.

While brick and mortar stores have seemingly mastered the art of capturing impulse buyers with product placement and checkout items, ecommerce stores are often failing to tap into the same success as high street stores. 

When it comes to online sales it’s often harder for businesses to encourage people to spend on impulse, there’s often no option for your customers to simply throw something in their cart last minute whilst at the checkout. Instead you need to give it more thought, creating a solid plan that can help you fulfil shoppers emotional needs and ultimately encourage more sales.  

What Is Impulse Buying? 

Impulse buying refers to when a customer purchases an item that they weren’t originally intending to buy. A perfect example of this is if a customer was to go into a shop with the intention of buying some bread, but whilst there he also sees some jam that might have been merchandised next to the bread aisle, deciding to purchase this along with his original item.  

The Psychology Behind the Impulse Buy

An impulse buy doesn’t just happen, despite it seemingly coming out of thin air, there are plenty of psychological factors behind impulse buying, from the obvious to a more deeper reasoning. Many choose to impulse buy in order to avoid missing out on a unique deal that could save them money, this is one of the most common reasons for impulse buying and is something to consider when looking for ways to appeal to impulse shoppers.  

For many, impulse buying comes from their love to shop, shopping makes people feel good, making many feel empowered or even happier. For example if someone is having a bad day or feels down, it’s very possible that they’ll head to the shops or even online to buy something to make them feel better. 

It’s also very likely that many impulse buyers have thought about buying a specific item or need to make a purchase but haven’t been reminded until they’ve seen the item promoted in a shop or even online. These unplanned buyers are usually motivated by a need for an item, rather than simply buying something because they want something.

Understanding why we impulse buy in general is a good place to start when looking to understand and encourage impulse shoppers, however it’s also a good idea to start thinking about what it is that causes people to impulse buy online, in order to determine how your ecommerce store can tap into the mindset of those who do impulse buy online.   

Bringing The Impulse Shopping Experience Online 

There are many ways you can encourage online shoppers to impulse buy and while it might be more difficult compared to high street stores, who can design their layout, checkouts and even their sounds in order to encourage sales and change shopper behaviour, it doesn’t have to be impossible for online businesses to fail to get involved. 

In the online world things are more difficult, there are often a lot more limitations in the things that you can do when trying to appeal to impulse buyers. However it is possible, there are plenty of ways you can capture the attention of impulse shoppers, all it takes is an understanding of how people think and behave when both browsing and shopping online. 

Online impulse buys are often very similar to offline impulse purchases, driven by a similar need or desire and online retailers often take to using similar tactics to encourage impulse buyers, such as showing additional items on the same product page or “near” the product, which can have the same effect as cross selling in a shop. 

There are a number of ways online businesses can appeal to impulse buyers and encourage more impulse purchases, not only increasing basket sizes and sales but also showing off to your customers other items you sell and showing what your store has to offer, which can lead to customers wanting to find out more and potentially returning at a later date. But how can you encourage these impulse sales? 

– Provide Upsells 

One of the biggest ways retailers can encourage impulse buying is through displaying cheaper or smaller items and accessories at the checkout or at the end of an aisle, letting customers waiting to pay or looking for specific items to be persuaded by these displays, often impulsively placing these items with the rest of their products, however  this can also be done online.

By placing similar items or accessories below or to the side of your main product, displaying it as Something you might be interested in” or “Goes perfect with” you can encourage people to buy a similar product along with the item they want.  

– Make Purchases Convenient 

The increase in consumers buying on mobile and tablet devices has led to a huge growth in the amount of people buying online, making it much more convenient and easier for people to do so, both for planned purchases and impulse buys. By offering an optimised mobile shopping experience that lets customers buy quickly and easily, there’s more chances of your customers making a purchase on impulse, as well as just optimising your store in general. 

Offering one click purchasing options, so your customers can buy with only the click of a button is also a great way of encouraging impulse sales, as there is no time for customers to place an item in their basket only to then think too much about it and take it back out.  

– Coupons & Vouchers 

Through emails, texts and even printed flyers you can offer your customers special coupon codes and vouchers, which can encourage people to make purchases they might not have previously considered. It’s not uncommon for people to buy from a company they haven’t even thought about or even look at buying something based on the fact they have a voucher to use up. 

Consumers always want a bargain and offering your customers special deals can be a great way to provide customers with the perfect deal for them and buy offering them a deal for a limited time only, you can also encourage people to buy before they miss out. 

Ecommerce retailers should know and be able to identify what it is that their shoppers are likely to buy and realise when a consumer is buying something last minute or purchasing something on impulse rather than looking for something specific. By gaining an insight into which customers are buying on impulse and their behaviour or buying pattern before they make this purchase you can gain more of an understanding of how you can optimise your ecommerce website in order to reach out to similar customers. 

Impulse buying has been around for a long time and isn’t likely to go away any time soon, however with changes in shopping behaviour happening every single day, it’s important that brands and retailers continue to adapt to both online and offline impulse buyers, in order to reach out to a new kind of audience. 

Article By
Sarah Seymour,
Published: 7th April, 2017
Categories: Ecommerce

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