05 April 2024

How Retailers Can Turn Impulse Buying Into A Win-Win For Both The Customer And Themselves!

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By Fiza Khan

Let’s face it: We’ve all been guilty of buying in the spur of the moment without giving it much thought. This happens especially when there are “big sales” everywhere, luring you into purchasing things that you actually don’t need. Honestly, that crazy shopping impulse is hard to resist for all of us. Just today I bought these cute little carved pumpkin decorations with zero regrets whatsoever. So, if you have been there too, you are not alone, but as a seller, you should know how you can tap into this behavior of others to boost your sales STRATEGICALLY.


When it comes to impulse buying, there are two types. The first is "planned impulse buying", which is when an offer or product is structured in a way that makes it convenient for your customers to take action right then and there. This involves strategy on the retailers’ part, such as using social selling to feature your best sellers and capture the see-now-buy-now mentality. Similarly, we are familiar with this in traditional retail with point-of-purchase displays in the highest traffic areas of a store.


The second type of impulse buying is "unplanned impulse buying". This happens when your customers see something that catches their eye, and they decide to buy it without any consideration. Unplanned impulse buying is often seen as the thrill of the hunt where shoppers aren't really looking for anything in particular but if they see something they love, they’re prepared to buy. This experience is something that legacy off-pricers such as Ross Dress for Less and TJ Maxx have used to their advantage for decades.


Research has shown that about 80% of all purchases are impulse buys, which means that you need to make sure that your products are showcased in a way that maximizes the chances that they will be seen by these eager shoppers.


Ahead, find our tips for turning impulse-buying into a win-win situation for both you and your customers!


What is impulse buying?

Impulse buying is when a customer spontaneously buys something. It often happens when a product (for example, a pair of shoes in the window) catches the customer’s eye and the customer can’t stop thinking about it. Impulse buying is great for retailers because it often leads to sales.


Think of impulse buying as love at first sight. You can't help but get caught up in the moment, and it's hard to stop. However, impulse buying can sometimes be bad for the retailers because it leads people to buy things they don’t need or may not even want. Just like love at first sight, they might find out the product isn’t a good match for them once they bring it home. As a result, the store is stuck with returns which take time and resources away from other things in the business that could generate sales.


What Causes Impulse Buying?

Impulse buying can happen for a variety of reasons. Sometimes, it’s just because customers are being drawn in by the attractive price or appealing packaging. Other times, customers might be feeling rushed and distracted, so they grab an item off the shelf without taking the time to evaluate whether they really need it.


Many people are frustrated or simply bored by the experience of waiting in line, and this is where many impulse buys occur. They may also have difficulty keeping track of all the items they need to buy because they are distracted by lots of signage and displays.


This type of distraction can lead to high-risk behaviors for both the customer and the seller. In a worst-case scenario, impulse buying can even hurt the brand image of your store. If the customer gets home and has buyer’s remorse, this can make them feel cheated by the retailer as if they bought into a sales gimmick. What’s more, if they decide to return the product, this hurts your overall sales goals.


Can impulse buying be beneficial to retailers?

Impulse buyers tend to be risk takers who are willing to spend money on things they don’t need, and in most cases, it works very well for the retailers.


For retailers, impulse buying could mean attracting a new customer by offering an attractive sale or promotion with few limitations. New customers will be willing to shop just for the thrill of the hunt. Impulse buying is also beneficial for retailers because it increases key performance indicators such as average order value and units per transaction.


Every time consumers go into a store and walk out with a new item; they increase the retailer’s sales. When a retailer is able to present the right assortment of products at just the right price, impulse buys will actually add value to the customer’s overall experience.


For instance, a boutique that specializes in cocktail attire might want to offer a selection of shapewear on a rack in the dressing room for customers to try on with the dresses. This is not necessarily an item that people want to overpay for, and they also don’t want a pushy sales pitch about it.


By offering a value based product and being strategic about the display inside the fitting room area, the store can easily pick up additional sales on the shapewear that the customer wasn’t planning to buy. Even if they decide not to purchase the shapewear, they will appreciate the option of being able to try it on with the dress. In the end, it’s a win-win for the store.


Is there any good for customers in impulse buying?

Undoubtedly, impulse buying is one of the most common ways that consumers make purchases. There are many benefits to impulse buying, including saving time and money. By impulse buying, consumers avoid the need to research prices and find other places to buy products. Shoppers are savvier than ever and they know where to go to find the best buys on quality products. When retailers are able to offer the perfect blend of convenience, quality, and price, customers will be more loyal and visit your store more frequently for the thrill of the hunt


Why retailers should look at impulse buying as a win-win for everyone:

It turns out that a lot of people are buying things impulsively, and most of those people are doing it without realizing it. This is because these people are making impulsive decisions based on emotion instead of logic.


When done right, a win-win scenario can be created between the retailer and shopper. Retailers benefit from increased sales, while shoppers reap the rewards of buying something they want and need. The key is to go beyond the impulse gimmicks. Retailers should focus on getting customers to try new things and make them feel good about themselves for doing so.


At the end of the day, we all want customers to be happy and satisfied with the purchases they make so that they are less likely to return items and more likely to shop again.



How to Capitalize on Impulse Buying

Let's talk about the art of turning fleeting impulses into fruitful opportunities for retailers and customers alike. Capitalizing on impulse buying isn't just about driving sales; it's about crafting experiences that delight shoppers and leave them eager for more. By understanding the nuances of impulsive behavior, retailers can create strategies that transform spontaneous moments into win-win scenarios for everyone involved.


Integration of Technology:

In today's fast-paced world, technology serves as a powerful ally in the pursuit of impulse buying success. With the aid of AI-driven analytics, retailers gain invaluable insights into customer preferences and behaviors, allowing for tailored offers and seamless shopping experiences across all touchpoints. By harnessing the magic of technology, retailers can transform impulsive moments into lasting connections with their customers.


Omnichannel Approach:

Navigating the retail landscape requires a holistic approach that transcends traditional boundaries. Embracing an omnichannel strategy enables retailers to meet customers wherever they are, seamlessly blending online and offline experiences to create a cohesive shopping journey. Whether browsing in-store or perusing online, customers can indulge their impulses with ease, confident in the consistency and convenience of their shopping experience.


Social Commerce:

In the age of social media, commerce knows no bounds. By embracing social commerce, retailers can tap into the power of platforms like Instagram and Facebook to engage customers in immersive and interactive experiences. Shoppable posts, live events, and user-generated content foster a sense of community and excitement, enticing shoppers to act on their impulses and make spontaneous purchases.


Sustainability and Ethical Consumption:

In a world increasingly attuned to sustainability and ethical concerns, retailers must align their impulse buying strategies with values that resonate with today's conscious consumers. By offering eco-friendly alternatives and transparently communicating their commitment to ethical sourcing, retailers can appeal to the hearts and minds of shoppers, transforming impulsive moments into opportunities to make a positive impact on the world.


Data Privacy and Security:

Respecting customer privacy and ensuring the security of their data are paramount in today's digital landscape. By implementing robust data protection measures and transparent communication practices, retailers can foster trust and confidence among shoppers, empowering them to indulge their impulses without fear or hesitation. When customers feel safe and valued, impulsive purchases become moments of joy and excitement, rather than sources of anxiety or uncertainty.


Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR):

Innovative technologies like AR and VR offer retailers exciting new avenues to enhance the impulse buying experience. By immersing customers in virtual environments where they can explore and interact with products in real-time, retailers create memorable and engaging moments that spark impulsive desires. From trying on virtual clothing to visualizing home decor, these immersive experiences inspire customers to act on their impulses with confidence and excitement.


Community Building:

At the heart of every successful retail strategy lies a thriving community of engaged and loyal customers. By fostering connections and building relationships with shoppers, retailers create environments where impulsive moments are celebrated and shared. Through social media engagement, user-generated content, and personalized interactions, retailers cultivate communities where impulsive purchases become moments of connection and joy, enriching the overall shopping experience for everyone involved.


Dynamic Pricing Strategies:

In the dynamic world of retail, pricing plays a pivotal role in shaping impulsive behavior. By implementing dynamic pricing strategies that respond to real-time data and market dynamics, retailers can optimize the impulse buying experience, offering irresistible deals and promotions that capture the imagination of shoppers. Whether adjusting prices based on demand or tailoring discounts to individual preferences, dynamic pricing ensures that impulsive moments are met with excitement and satisfaction.


Post-Purchase Engagement:

The journey doesn't end at the point of purchase; it's just the beginning of a beautiful relationship between retailer and customer. By engaging customers in meaningful post-purchase interactions, retailers deepen connections and foster loyalty that extends far beyond the initial impulse buy. Whether through personalized communications, loyalty programs, or proactive support, retailers ensure that every impulsive moment is met with warmth and appreciation, laying the foundation for a lifelong bond between brand and customer.


Continuous Adaptation and Innovation:

In the ever-evolving world of retail, adaptation and innovation are the keys to staying ahead of the curve. By embracing change and exploring new opportunities, retailers can transform impulsive moments into lasting successes, driving growth and prosperity in an increasingly competitive landscape. Whether experimenting with emerging technologies or reimagining traditional strategies, retailers pave the way for a future where every impulse is met with excitement and possibility.



On the surface, impulse buying seems like a potentially bad thing, or one retails evils. Promotion gimmicks can give the impression that you’re in a store where all they care about is how much you’re spending rather than the experience of shopping for great stuff.


However, as we’ve shown, retailers have the power to redirect the natural human behavior of impulse in a way that ultimately benefits customers, adds value to their life, and helps the business grow at the same time.


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