Impulse Buying During a Pandemic: How are These Purchases Impacted?

The global pandemic continues to alter the way humans across the globe handle every aspect of their lives, from schooling their children to making essential purchases. Drastic changes in consumer behavior have occurred due to individuals worrying about contracting the virus and spreading it to others. Technology offers alternatives to traditional activities, such as grocery shopping. A person finds they can order groceries online and have them delivered to their home or office complete with contactless delivery. They don’t have to see the delivery person or interact with them. This is only one of many ways the retail industry is changing thanks to the pandemic, and retailers want to know the pandemic’s impact on impulse buying in a digital world.

What is Impulse Buying?

Consumers impulse buy all the time. Unplanned purchases serve as impulse buys, as they occur when a person has a sudden urge to make a purchase and cannot resist this urge. These purchases typically rely on a person’s need for instant gratification. Brick-and-mortar retail locations recognize the importance of these sales to their bottom line and use their shop windows and prominent locations within their establishment to encourage impulse buying. In fact, up to two-thirds of purchases in a department store are impulse buys, and 80 percent of all shopping trips result in at least one impulse buy. How can online businesses benefit in similar ways? Sharp Commerce can be of help.

Thanks to the increase in digital shopping, men and women might believe impulse purchases will be a thing of the past. They assume they won’t be as susceptible to impulse buys when shopping online in the comfort of their own home. Visual cues won’t trigger their need to make an impulse purchase, and they won’t be able to use their other senses when making a purchasing decision. Online retailers need to overcome these challenges. How can they do so?

Industry experts believe online retailers can bridge the gap between the brick-and-mortar experience and the online shopping experience. One way they might accomplish this goal involves offering price-light offerings loaded with value. They believe doing so could stimulate impulse buying in the consumer. Planogramming could be of help in achieving this goal along with click and collect options. Other ideas to consider include experiential marketing, omnichannel retailing, and showrooming among others. Using these techniques helps to create the ideal environment for impulse buys.

Virtual Experiences

The customer experience plays a large role in all purchases, including impulse buys. Product demonstrations provide the opportunity to share elements of a product with the shopper and can help when they cannot feel and touch an item or smell it. Written descriptions can’t fulfill the need of the consumer to engage these senses when making purchases. The product demonstration fills some gaps.

An online consultant may assist the shopper, live streaming can enhance the experience, or a company might offer a free trial to provide the consumer with the opportunity to learn more about the product before committing to a purchase. Complementary product suggestions help many consumers get the items they need, especially those they may normally forget only to discover later they need them. These suggestions appear when a consumer looks at a product or might display on the screen when the customer goes to check out and pay. Some companies offer these products with free shipping when they see similar or related items already in the cart.

Companies need to recognize the shift in the mindset of consumers today. Many men and women buy based on their emotions now. For instance, consumers find there is a lot of uncertainty in their lives today and want to buy from brands they know and feel comfortable with. Some people buy clothes now, looking at the items as an emotional treat, and certain group purchases are taking off. They don’t want to miss out on things their friends and family are purchasing, and this leads to impulse buying as well.

Encouraging Impulse Buys

Companies find they have other ways to encourage impulse buying. Phygital stores are a good example of how this may be accomplished. This is nothing more than a physical store offering a digital experience. For instance, a shopper might try on outfit combinations digitally when brick-and-mortar stores have closed their dressing rooms, so they see how unique items work together. A toy store might show different combinations of products so parents can decide which items best meet the child’s needs without taking the child around others who may have the virus. They feel safe shopping from the comfort of their own home and see how the toys work together with the help of the physical store. This encourages impulse buying, as it allows the retailer to make suggestions regarding different products, ones which the consumer may have overlooked when visiting the brick-and-mortar location.

Geofencing tools help at this time, as they encourage visitors near a brick-and-mortar location to impulse buy with the help of digital and physical suggestions. Buy Online and Pick up In-Store options encourage impulse buys, as customers who come in to pick up their purchase may check out items and make impulse purchases as they wait for the items they purchased. Take advantage of these tools whenever possible.

Looking to the Future

Consumption continues, even during a global pandemic. Small businesses need to take advantage of this. When a person visits Amazon, for instance, they make a planned purchase without browsing. This isn’t the case when people visit a Facebook shop, for example. They wander around the site to see what it offers and often impulse buy when doing so. People find they wish to help local businesses during this crisis. They want their neighbors to be there when the pandemic is a thing of the past. Online shopping options help local communities stick together during these troublesome times, and small businesses need to expand their digital offerings. While many consumers will return to their pre-pandemic habits once the crisis has passed, not all will. Learn how to encourage impulse buying now, so this behavior will continue well into the future. Your organization benefits with each impulse purchase that is made.

Was it worth reading? Let us know.