You’ve heard your customers say, “I’m just browsing." And they’re not being untruthful. The reality is that they don’t yet know what they want to buy until they see it. “Two-thirds of the shopping that goes on in malls is impulse buying,” says Paco Underhill, author of the book Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping. “Actually, two-thirds of the entire economy is impulse buying.”
However, once a customer decides to make a purchase in your store, he or she is even more likely to add an additional item. Here are some tips on how you can increase total spending in your store at the cash register:
1. Use suggestive selling—Train every employee to make a suggestion to every customer about an item that complements the purchase in hand. For example, if the customer is at the register with a pair of reading glasses, you could suggest a decorative case to go with them. Many big-box stores track the average number of units per purchase per employee. They expect each employee to average 1.5 units per purchase. The goal of tracking is to put a plan in place to make each employee accountable for upselling each customer. You can also create a small bonus plan to incentivize your employees for hitting a monthly or quarterly goal of their average units per sale.
2. Solve your customers’ problems—Retail veteran Virgil Klunder says that for him, the psychology of impulse buys comes down to two primal human motivations: avoiding pain and experiencing pleasure. “For every product, I look at the number of steps it takes for consumers to understand how that product will help them either avoid pain or gain pleasure. The fewer [the] steps, the better that product will do,” he says. “Big companies go out and spend millions on research, and that’s really what it comes down to—avoiding pain and gaining pleasure.”
3. Offer value-oriented price points—There’s no doubt about it, in a recession, customers are looking for a good deal and they are very price sensitive. Items that are under $15 work best near the register.
4. Rotate inventory frequently—I can’t tell you how many stores have had the same display on the cash wrap for years. Rotate your products at the register monthly! Assign one person in your store the task of rotating the display and be sure to track those sales as a department so you can determine your store’s best impulse items.
5. Promote your store's gift card program - Create a professional display to promote your store gift cards/certificates. Think about changing the signage regularly to reflect various holidays. For example. you might add a sign close to Mother's Day that says "The Perfect Gift for Every Mom."
6. Set out greeting cards—Position mini cards near the register for the last-minute or time-pressed gift giver.
7. Highlight accessories—According to a new study commissioned by Specialty Retail Report, jewelry is a top seller. Think about highlighting some fresh, inexpensive pieces near the register
8. Make recommendations based on your customers’ specific preferences—Rather than just suggesting that your customers purchase an additional product based on the one they have in their hand, you can alter your suggestive selling based on your observations about their style, or information you know about them. Gloria Danvers of The JewelBox Goddess Shop says, “When a customer walks in through the door, I will pay attention to what she is wearing. If she is wearing a toe ring or an ankle bracelet, I will suggest a particular piece of jewelry. You have to be accessible and suggest things that will go with the customer’s personality. I have feng shui crystals for sale that would make great impulse items. If I see a customer is wearing purple, I will pick up the purple crystal, hold it up to the light and say, ‘Isn’t this gorgeous?’ Women buy jewelry for a lot of specific reasons. I sometimes ask questions if I know the customer. If she is going through a really hard divorce, then I’ll suggest rose quartz for unconditional love.”
9. Use clear pricing—Cindy McAdams of Silver Crossing says, “A lot of my jewelry is on spinning displays, with the low- to medium-priced ones set to catch people’s eyes. The most important thing to remember if you want to encourage impulse buys is to have each item well marked with a price tag. If the customer picks up something and the item is not well marked, that is a distraction from the impulse. That chance [to make a sale] is lost.”
10. Try sampling—According to the Advertising Research Foundation, purchases rose from 11 percent to 52 percent among customers who attended a store event with sampling. Melissa Haberstroh of Burlap Horse explains, “We’ll offer candy this Christmas and set out samples to encourage impulse buys.”
11. Have ample counter space near the register—Haberstroh says, “We are fortunate to have a large counter space, and we are working on having different items that customers can look at while transactions are being conducted.”
12. Test, test, test!—Test different products and different price points to keep your customers interested and to determine what works best.
Patricia Norins is the Publisher of the quarterly trade magazine GIFT SHOP—an indispensable tool for more than 30,000 gift retailers seeking fresh new ideas for business success. Norins is also an author of a how-to retail book and she writes a daily retail blog at www.specialtyretailexpert.com. In addition, she consults for retailers and manufacturers across the country. She can be reached at email@example.com.