What Is an Impulse Sale?
We all know a very common example of impulse sales. You are at the checkout counter at the regional grocery chain’s store. There are two or three people ahead of you. Suddenly you spy your favorite chocolate bar which the store has very “conveniently” placed in the checkout area along with other candy bars and snacks.
So on an impulse, you grab a couple and put them in your grocery cart.
Or maybe it was those packs of disposable razors that are often found right near the checkout area. You pop one of those into your cart as you suddenly remember you are on your last disposable razor. Or perhaps you spot the latest gossip mag and just can’t resist because it has an article about one of your favorite actresses.
Now multiply your actions across all the checkout counters of that grocery chain’s stores. You can imagine how the dollars mount up just on those small impulse sales.
Those are classic examples of impulse sales.
Department stores often get impulse sales from their window displays. Perhaps not for the exact item that was in the window, but the displays sparks interest and the passer-by decides, on impulse, to enter the store to check out what she saw in the window, or something similar.
Advertising banners that pop up along the bottom of some YouTube videos can spark impulse sales or at least impulse clicks on the ads. Of course, a lot of people are simply turned off by these popup banners.
But the fact that they keep appearing means someone is making money from them.
Speaking of the Internet…
Internet shopping has cut into the brick and mortar impulse sales.
This was actually the subject of an article in Reuters some time back, and when the main stream media catch on, you know it’s already well in progress! Since so many people are now searching for the things they want on the net, they are typically sticking close to their “shopping list.
So special offers are not currently as effective for online checkouts… people tend to keep clicking next, next, next until they finalize their online purchase.
Still, some are effective, and if you have an online store or shopping cart checkout procedure, you might as well make a special offer available. A certain percentage of people will likely take advantage of it, depending on how “special” they consider it to be.
Just be sure to make your checkout procedure as smooth as possible or people will just leave your website without finalizing their purchase. In fact, a VERY high percentage of potential customers across the internet do just that.
So a boatload of potential online sales are lost right in the shopping cart checkout procedure because of confusing layouts or too many friction points or hoops to jump through.
People get turned off and leave, and some online sellers miss many opportunities for successful sales transactions.
Upselling or Add-On Sales
Another form of an impulse sale is the add-on sale.
This type of sale occurs when someone has made their core purchase, and the salesperson or online checkout procedure offers an add-on that will make the core purchase more useful or advantageous for the buyer.
This is often referred to as “upselling” the customer. In other words, it’s a way to increase the size of the sale by offering the buyer an add-on at the exact moment he or she is in a buying mood.
You often see a form of this when you purchase a new phone or appliance. The salesperson will ask if you would like to buy a warranty or extended warranty in case the appliance malfunctions at some point within a set period of time.
For some people, that makes sense. For others, they just can’t be bothered because sometimes it is much less aggravating to just replace the appliance with a new one instead of trying to get the warranty actually enacted quickly and smoothly, without hassle.
If you have a service or product that would do well in a setting that encourages impulse sales, you need to look into it.
Or if you have an obvious add-on that would make sense for the product or service you are selling, you need to make that available at the time of the “close” of the original sale.
It might just add some additional dollars to your bottom line. In some cases, it could add significantly to your bottom line.
Written by Bob Nelson
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