Ecommerce Impulse Buying Strategies

Impulse buying has been a tried and trusted tactic of bricks and mortar stores to boost revenue for decades, but many online retailers fail to implement the strategy in the eCommerce environment. Some online store owners may have trouble visualising how the real world flow of impulse buying and its many psychological subtleties translates into the eCommerce conversion funnel. Get it wrong and it may create a broken shopping experience that does more harm than good, but implement it correctly and it could result in a familiar feel for online shoppers that translates into increased basket sizes.

With five out of six US shoppers admitting to making impulse buys, 79% of which took place in physical stores, there is a great opportunity for savvy eCommerce owners to capitalise on the demand and reap the rewards online. Here are some strategies you can use to leverage impulse buying opportunities in your store.

An obvious path to purchase

Online shopping doesn’t have the benefit of customers lingering in one spot long enough to tempt them with the physical benefits of touching or smelling impulse products. A negative of eCommerce in this instance is that customers often browse, add to cart, then make the purchase all within a narrow time frame. The opportunity to convince them to add a little extra to their cart is a narrow one, but not one that should be passed over. In much the same way a physical store carefully maps out a path to lead customers along predetermined product routes, the same principle can be applied online with considered alignment of impulse buys and high value products. Make sure your store is easy to navigate with obvious pathways, reduce visual and navigational clutter, and ensure the design is modern and appealing. There’s little nostalgia in a 2000’s eCommerce store!

Strategic placement of suggested products

It’s unlikely that a customer would buy a second expensive product once they are in the checkout process on a whim. That’s why nailing impulse product placement is imperative to successful upselling. Some retailers advocate keeping the price of impulse products under $30 as that price point doesn’t demand a great deal of consideration when being added to an existing shopping basket. Other tactics involve placing sale items or clearance items as impulse buys. That’s a win for the customer if they grab a bargain and a win for you if it helps clear superseded stock. 

Leverage high demand products

Don’t think that the checkout is the only place you can display impulse buys. While traditionally they were aimed at capitalising on physical shoppers waiting in checkout queues, in an eCommerce environment you should aim to display them on high-demand product pages. It can be a great opportunity to encourage a customer to add smaller items to their shopping cart while they are still in the process of deciding on their major purchase. For example, if a customer is shopping for a new BBQ they may be tempted to add a cover or set of BBQ tools from a suggested impulse list on the same page.

Create urgency

Customers will often need a little extra nudge to add that impulse buy to their basket. The best way to do this is to add a sense of urgency to the purchase. Often impulse buy products satisfy either a customer’s wants, or they display staple items. Two tactics for this is to have impulse products that enhance the main product purchase for a fraction of the price, or bestsellers that already have previous purchasing history and therefore affirmation of it being a worthy addition. Using the right language will help. Urgency in the CTAs such as “Buy Now!” or “Last few remaining” can help create desire. Countdown timers for special offers is another successful strategy, especially if adding an impulse buy to the cart doesn’t affect shipping costs. 

Know their needs

You have the advantage of being able to analyse data from all previous transactions to carefully craft your impulse buy product lines. While there is an element of understanding your customer’s needs, you also have the ability to feed them what they don’t know they need yet based on previously related buys. A larger homeware product can have subtle suggested products such as artwork, scented candles, or cushions to complete the purchase.  

Giant neon fingers!

Okay, maybe that’s going a little far, but certainly utilise all the visual cues at your disposal once a customer is in the checkout process. Not every store has the benefit of products that naturally lend themselves to impulse buys, therefore you may have to go that extra mile to draw a shopper’s attention. Ensure your impulse buy/upsell section is well framed and obvious to the casual shopper. Use bold colours such as red to draw the eye and distinguish important Call to Actions from lesser ones.  

Limit the options

While limiting the price point of impulse buys is important, so too are product options. You still want to convert the purchase so it’s a fine line between trying to upsell and stagnating the process to a point where they may abandon the cart. That’s why impulse buys should have no more than two options. Having a customer decide on which of twenty t-shirt colours to choose from might end badly for your sale, so use the upsell to strategically place items that you know won’t take long to decide on.

Seasonal specials

If you happen to sell products that include a section of inventory dedicated to seasonal lines (like party supply products) then these make great impulse buys. They tap into the sense of urgency mentioned previously as a customer knows they will only be available for a limited time. Seasonal items, whether they are Christmas or Australia Day themed, are also a great way to break up more regular impulse product placements and that will help stave off boredom from regular customers who get used to seeing the same product lines with each visit.

Impulse purchases can not only be a healthy addition to your bottom line, but clever selection and an enhanced shopping experience can generate a greater volume of loyal, repeat customers who will come to love your eCommerce layout and product range. As the recent swing towards eCommerce appears to be here to stay, now is the perfect time to optimise your shopping experience and impulse product suggestions using some of the suggestions above. Developing a reputation as a site worth visiting will not only boost your revenue but keep you ahead of the competition.

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