Shoppers are 5% more likely to make an impulse grocery buy online than in store, according to Nielsen. Today's consumers are no longer shopping in just one channel, but are blending and moving between them to meet unique shopping needs.
Still, impulse shopping is more common in brick-and-mortar stores in some categories. In-store frozen food sections see 9.4% more impulse purchases than online channels and fresh ingredients also see 1.9% more impulse buys in-store.
Snacks in categories like crackers and popcorn and chips and pretzels see 14.4% and 13.7% more impulse buys online than in store, respectively. Soups and broths (10.5%) and sauces, spreads and dressings (9.8%) also perform better online.
In order to track where impulse sales are occurring, retailers need to closely monitor sales and track special to observe and learn from customer shopping patterns. Grocers also need to be able to identify what product items consumers are shelling out extra money on. As health and wellness trends continue to shape shopper appetites, better-for-you applications like kombucha and premium yogurt may also be seen as "impulse buys" alongside tried-and-true lures like candy bars, chips and chewing gum.
Product display and promotion are key drivers of impulse purchases, but retailers should do more to encourage shoppers who are on the fence. In-store sampling is one way to garner shopper interest, as are floor ads in front of frozen food cases and in-store radio announcements detailing special markdowns and other in-store services.
Many years ago, Kmart ran a promotion called “Bluelight Specials.” Tall blue flashing lights were placed on top of store displays. When the blue light was lit, a special was offered. The promotion was well-liked, but this kind of over-the-top promotion doesn't fit with many of the premium grocery experiences that retailers are trying to create in store.
Retailers should, however, aim to elicit excitement from their shoppers in order to capitalize on impulse sales, and look for promotion strategies that will capture shopper attention.