How to Encourage Impulse Purchases in Your Store

Before your customers decide to make a purchase, there are several phases they go through. It starts with becoming aware of a need or pain point, how your product satisfies it, and assessing information for making comparisons of value such as price or perks that impact the decision-making process.

Impulse purchases, however, are not so involved. Here you’ll find some tips on how to encourage impulse buying in both online and offline stores.


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A physical store needs to be visually attractive and the layout well-organized so the customer feels comfortable in spending their time shopping. The traditional brick-and-mortar store should also be sanitary and look completely safe. Debris, dirt, clutter, and tripping or safety hazards, like loose wiring, present an unprofessional and unsafe atmosphere that will discourage relaxed shopping.

In addition to making the surroundings seem visually inviting, you could also make them seem more fresh and pleasant by providing some appealing scents. Fragrance affects us more than we realize, and at an instinctive level so that shoppers will associate your signature fragrance with your brand in an emotionally positive context.

That’s why many retailers utilize scented branding. While candles provide visual appeal and a range of aromas, they should be considered a fire hazard. Even when they aren’t lit they may emit some scent, but keeping candles all over the store isn’t really practical or cost-effective.

With aroma diffusers in your store, however, your customers will associate a smell at your establishment with a pleasing outcome, for instance freshly cut grass with a lawn equipment retailer. These compelling smells will inspire customers to make a purchase without even thinking about it. Human reactions to scent is automatic and highly intuitive.

Just as in a physical store, an ecommerce site needs to be attractively designed and logically ordered. Customers should have no trouble in searching your line of products. That’s where “webmospherics” are concerned. It’s a term that refers to website attributes that impel the customer through the buying experience without too many considerations or distractions. This includes features like one-touch checkout, appealing photos as product links, and search and filter capabilities.

Creating a positive environment on your website is just as important to encourage online shopping as it is in a physical store. Optimizing your site for smartphone shoppers is important to boosting sales, as that is where millions of consumers are doing their shopping. A mobile-responsive website is programmed to adapt to any device that accesses it in order to provide the best shopper experience.


In either physical or ecommerce stores, product displays and placement should be simple and intuitive. If customers have to stop and think about what they’re looking at, impulse buying is restricted. Impulse items should be small and inexpensive so they don’t represent an imposing financial choice.

Attention-drawing signage is an important element in impulse sales. For instance, one with a smiling toddler near a bottle of baby shampoo attracts more customers. In physical stores, impulse items should be located near checkout.

Colorful displays that are amusing or educational entice the customer to focus on the product as they’re waiting in checkout lines. They can also be placed next to best-sellers as related or cross-merchandising items. Seeming out of place can draw attention to certain items.

In online shopping, product photos or videos can appear on the homepage or landing page, or be used in social media profiles as quick links to your site. Including product suggestions on the checkout page as “buyers also liked” lists will boost impulse purchases of those items. Suggestive captions can also work for cross-selling items, such as “try this hot look” for clothing.

While ecommerce sites can track individual user actions and personalize the shopping experience to optimize sales traditional stores have to rely on observation and experience to find out what works best.


Direct mail marketing has always been a successful tactic for brick-and-mortar retailers. Sending out brochures and catalogs creates interest through visual appeal and keeps the seller in the customer’s thoughts. It can also create strong associations through scented paper, card-board pop-ups, or full-page photos.

Ecommerce sites, on the other hand, tend to rely on emails. They can send out notices of special deals, digital coupons, or abandoned shopping cart notices to spur impulse buying. These tactics are intended to catch the customer at their most receptive and stimulate them to take action.

However, the content of the email needs to be carefully crafted. This means personalized messages, catchy subject lines, and friendly, helpful language to improve the chances emails will be opened and not simply deleted.

Overtime, these interactions will help to build brand recognition, trust, and strengthen consumer relationships. Both email and direct mail campaigns help your brand maintain visibility and develop a more engaging customer experience.


There are certain factors that will help you to improve revenue from impulse purchases. This includes providing a pleasant, well-organized environment both on your website and physical store. Good strategies on product placement and promotion draw more customer attention, while direct mail or email campaigns help to stimulate impulse buying and improve customer relationships. Effective management of impulse shopping can make a big contribution to your bottom line.


About the Author:

Jasmine Williams covers the good and the bad of today’s business and marketing. She was rummaging through her grandma’s clothes before it was cool and she’s usually hunched over a book or dancing in the kitchen, trying hard to maintain rhythm, but delivering some fine cooking (her family says so). Tweet her @JazzyWilliams88