I just bought six square pieces of spongy fabric for $20 and
walked away happy - "victim" of an impulse purchase.
I was at one of those big show events and walked past a
demonstration booth. I even knew it was coming. About 50% of the
people walking out were carrying two bright yellow cylinder-things.
As we walked toward the convention center, I told Tim (my other
half), "There's one of those guys with a microphone in there, doing
a demonstration. He gets people so excited they think they have to
buy those things. They over-pay then never use them." I said this a
bit smugly. I know of such things, so I wouldn't succumb.
Yeah, right. This guy was good. So good, I came away with five ideas
for increasing sales from impulse purchases and ideas on how they
might be applied online.
Next time you evaluate short-term sales and online marketing
strategies, think about and apply these five impulse purchase
Online Impulse Purchase Lesson #1:
Demonstrate an impressive, relevant feature.
If the product is chocolate, sold at a retail checkout stand, you
have no need for this one. Human nature takes over. When you are
selling unrecognizable cylinder things - or sold on the Internet -
people need some encouragement.
You would never know it to look at them, but these things were super
They can suck 8 - 10 ounces of soda out of your carpet in nothing
flat AND it makes for an impressive demonstration. When the
demonstrator mentioned they could dry a sweater in three hours, I
was hooked. Never mind we have about two spills a year in my house
and I don't own any "lay flat to dry" sweaters.
This ability to get people to "live in the moment" is one key to a
successful impulse purchase demonstration. The salesperson has a lot
to do with it, of course. Repetition of an incredible, attractive
feature, however, is key as well.
Think of any infomercial or "Billy Mays" product. There is always an
"AMAZING!" feature - cooks in minutes, instantly removes stains,
easily pulls dings from your car, etc. This technique doesn't have
to be only live or on television to work. Who in the U.S. hasn't
walked past a display playing a recorded product demonstration.
Take this concept and extend it online by inserting a streaming,
play-on-demand video or audio clip* next to key products on your
site. You could also include the clip (or a link to a demo page) in
* For more information on streaming media, read "Turn Benefits into
Sales with Streaming Media" here:
#2: Try to "time it right".
Quite coincidentally, one of those semiannual spills in my house
happened the day before I bumped into the yellow cylinder guy. I was
thinking "If I'd had these yesterday, right now we wouldn't have
books stacked in the middle of the living room floor." Quite by
accident, he had related to something that was top-of-mind for me.
Fortunately, you do not have to rely on coincidence. At any one
time, there are usually six or eight generally popular "themes" you
could tie into. Better yet, your target audience is likely to have
it's own unique interests.
On the Internet, you can "time it right" by associating
complementary products or services. If someone is researching
monitors, for example, perhaps they need an ink cartridge for their
Showing or highlighting ink cartridges on the screen along with the
monitors may incite an impulse purchase. Better yet - and this is
impossible unless you have order histories or detailed profiles -
show them the exact cartridge they need.
#3 Make it easy.
It turns out the cylinder things costs a flat $20. There was no
change to mess with, no stopping to fill in order forms, and no
multiple pieces of currency. As people pulled $20's out of their
pockets, the demonstrator took them and handed over the shammies in
a single motion.
On the Internet, you can make it easy in two ways - ordering and
Make the order process as simple as possible. Amazon's "Quick-Click"
links are a good example of making ordering easy. Impulse purchasers
simply click on the "Buy from Amazon" button and order straight off
a pop-up window. You can see how it works here, in the left column
(look for "Amazon 'Quick-Click' Example"):
Easy delivery is another way to encourage impulse purchases on the
Internet. Immediately downloadable digital items are an example. For
physical items, quick delivery - overnight, same day, or local store
pick-up - can increase sales.
#4 Give an enticingly presented
A roll of three shammies was $21 something, but the guy was taking
care of the sales tax, which made it an even $20 (But wait, there's
more!). Because it was early he would throw in another 3-roll for no
additional charge. Caught up in the moment, we nodded agreement. We
were getting a deal - no sales tax plus three free.
The way a discount is presented can make a deal sound either
appealing or "not such a deal". Which sounds better?...
a) "Buy One, Get One Half Off." OR "Buy Two and Get a 25% Discount."
b) "3 for $5.00" OR "$1.67 each."
c) "40% Off Sale" OR "On Sale, $12.00 each." (Assuming $20 item.)
Another way to encourage impulse purchases is to give a discount by
bundling. Offer to reduce the price on a second, related item (Like
in example "a", above.).
Before the holidays or other major events, you can encourage
higher online order size with discounts. One way is to offer a
discount on one item when your customer purchases a different item.
Another way to raise order size with a discount is to give your
customers lower (or free) shipping if they purchase a certain dollar
amount or higher.
#5 "Keeping up with the Joneses."
Instead of putting the shammies in a bag, the demonstrator rolled
them up into a cylinder. This way, people at the show would see
others carrying them around and wonder what they were missing.
The same concept can be applied to the Internet. I have seen
messages like: "Others who bought 'x' also bought 'y'" on order
forms, at check out, and on product screens.
So there they are - five tactics the yellow cylinder guy used to
convince me (and nearly everyone around me) to happily walk away
with six shammies. By correctly applying these same techniques, your
sales can soar as well.
Bobette Kyle offers a range of marketing plan tools to fit your
business and budget. Find out more at
http://www.HowMuchForSpider.com or visit