How to Encourage Impulse Buying with Point-of-Purchase Displays

For brick-and-mortar retailers, impulse purchases are key to capturing additional, unplanned sales from customers. These small purchases can incrementally grow to represent a significant portion of sales—over the course of a year, the average customer will spend $5,400 on these small, spontaneous transactions. Interestingly, 79 percent of impulse purchases occur in brick-and-mortar stores as opposed to online, representing a sizeable and unique strength that all brick-and-mortar retailers should integrate into their visual merchandising strategy.

shoppers looking at retail display for impulse buying

Impulse buying encourages sales by leveraging the average buyer’s purchasing behavior. Once customers are inside a store and committed to making a purchase, it’s easy to convince them to add on a smaller purchase—especially as they reach the checkout counter. This is all partially due to a phenomenon called “decision fatigue”–by the time customers are ready to finish shopping, they’ve likely grown tired of making choices. So, if an appealing product appears in the right place for a low price, customers will spend less time considering their purchase, creating additional sales.

By carefully planning the placement and design of retail displays and signage for the right products, retailers can engage their customers and influence spur-of-the-moment purchasing. Let’s take a closer look at how retailers merchandise products that cause impulse buying.

What Products Encourage Impulse Buying?

Generally, impulse purchases are small, inexpensive, and don’t leave customers questioning the product’s use. To brainstorm the best products for impulse buying, think of a customer’s momentary needs, the specific items they may forget to purchase, or products that they purchase regularly. For example, if shoppers often spend hours browsing your store, water, and snacks to check out may be appealing to a large segment of customers.

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When determining which products are best suited for impulse purchasing, consider these three psychological triggers that can influence impulsive purchasing behavior:

Urgency: Make it clear that the offering is limited. Maybe the product is available for a special price, or that product itself will only be in stock for a short season. Try to engage a consumer’s fear of missing out.

Value: Communicate that customers are getting a deal that’s too good to ignore, often by combining a low price with significant utility. For example, many clothing retailers stock inexpensive sunglasses by checkout during the summer months or feature chic bracelet displays to complement a new wardrobe. Customers may already have a latent desire for sun protection, and an especially low price tag ultimately prompts them to make a purchase.

Novelty: Customers will notice interesting products– especially if they’re handy, low cost, and placed conspicuously. New England retailed Newbury Comics accomplishes this by placing interesting, funny, and eye-catching magnets and stickers right by their point-of-sale.

Generally, all products that are merchandised as impulse purchases should be worth a fraction of what an average consumer spends on their total purchase, and often should not exceed $20. In the end, be sure that these products are chosen with customer needs in mind—every store will have unique products and prices that encourage spontaneous purchases.

Placing and Designing Retail Displays

The most important step in encouraging impulse purchases is creating engaging displays that are designed and placed with the intention of customers seeing the product. This often means using bold or bright colors that highlight the products on display.

These displays will also ensure that these products are not placed in a haphazard way, which could cause a customer to become overwhelmed and abandon their carts before entering the line. For example, place small products like nail polish into dump bins, or use countertop displays to organize snacks in an appealing manner—or create entire free-standing displays that feature star products.

When it comes time to select where to place retail displays for impulse buying, consider the strengths of the following areas:

The Checkout Area: When a customer enters the checkout line, they have a high probability of making a purchase—and this makes them less resistant to purchasing a small add-on. Consider TJ Maxx, whose checkout lines are often entirely composed of shelving that stocks anything ranging from inexpensive curiosities to gourmet snacks. This doesn’t just increase sales, it entertains customers while they wait for service. Ultimately, this reduces attrition that’s caused by long lines while driving more sales.

Near Top Sellers: By using data or asking associates, determine which products are frequently purchased by customers. Then place retail displays in those areas for products that are complementary. For example, an outdoor goods store may place inexpensive multi-tools next to their most popular camping gear or clothing stores may highlight earring displays or necklace displays.

Alongside High-Traffic Areas: To find high traffic areas, look at your store layout and identify the paths that customers frequently travel through. Pay close attention to the areas where customers often divert from the main walking path as well as the areas where they linger—this is where customers are more likely to stop and notice products. Then, place displays along these walking paths in a non-intrusive manner.

Using Signage with Retail Displays

By combining eye-catching signage with well-paced displays, retailers can enjoy more sales than displays alone can provide. In fact, displays with signage created 20 percent more sales than displays without signage. However, this retail signage must be designed using certain tactics that help customers notice products and encourage impulse purchases:

Color Scheme: Traditionally, many retailers use colors like red and yellow to grab customer’s attention. While this is quite effective, some brands choose other bold colors that more closely align with their brand image, with the product on offer or simply colors that their audience has historically responded well to.

Messaging: Retailers should use clear, bold text while keeping visual clutter to a minimum. It’s often recommended to clearly outline the price of items, especially if they’re rather inexpensive. Then, combine this pricing information alongside actionable terminology such as “Buy Now!” or “Today Only!”

When designing signage, just be sure that the design aligns with your brand and doesn’t overwhelm or annoy your customers. Signage should call attention to products using short-form, valuable information instead of pitching the benefits of the product to customers. After all, these products should have initially been selected to fulfill latent customer desires—meaning there’s no need for an explanation.

Key Takeaways

Encouraging impulse buying is a fantastic way to increase your store’s average sales per transaction while increasing a loyal customer’s lifetime value. These small purchases eventually add up into a sizeable amount of profit for brick-and-mortar retailers, helping them stay competitive with their online rivals. With proper visual merchandising and well-chosen product offerings, all retailers can enjoy the benefits of impulse buying.

Looking for displays to help your products stand out? Check out our extensive collection of retail displays and fixtures, or take a look at our retail signage offerings. Or, if you have questions about custom displays and signage, reach out and contact us today.