The Science of Impulse Buying

Nov. 2, 2018
Eye-catching displays and carefully selected add-on products can pay off at the cash register

Locksmiths, like other businesses, are looking for ways to increase their year-end financial picture. The last thing you want is a customer to walk out of your shop without spending a nickel. In fact, the ideal goal is to sell walk-in’s more than they planned to buy. The easiest, most efficient way to make this happen is to utilize merchandising displays in key spots within your store. This form of sales is linked to what is commonly called “Impulse Buying.”

Impulse buying, as a subset of Visual Merchandising, is defined as, “...a silent selling technique that helps to reduce the employee mix and increase per square feet returns and can further help in reducing marketing budgets. Visual merchandising of developing the floor plans and three-dimensional displays in order to maximize sales” (The Free Dictionary,

“Retail marketing is more than adding product to the shelf; it plays a crucial role in how your business is portrayed. The business’ image should be considered when deciding everything from business cards to product inventory to store design. As a security professional, the consumer seeks your services to provide professional grade solutions for their needs. Solutions they could not provide or seek themselves,” says Adam Duberstein, vice president of business development with Pro-Lok of Orange, CA.

Need some ideas as what to sell? We’ll cover a few as we go along.

In this exclusive Locksmith Ledger article we’re going to talk about Impulse Buying as well as what top manufacturers in this industry are doing to assist locksmiths in their quest to convert walk-ins into cold, hard cash.

Before we go any further, you might have already asked, “Is all this worth the trouble?” According to Brandon Gaille, a well known marketing podcaster and author (, “Over 90 percent of people who shop today make occasional impulse purchases that they didn’t intend to buy initially.” Gaille adds, “the average person, over the course of a lifetime, will spend over $110,000 on impulsive purchases.”

With statistics like these, how can we ignore the potential of impulse buying when it comes to the profits that can be realized by simply placing high-impulse products in front of customers who visit our shops? The quick answer: we can’t!

The next question is, how can a busy locksmith take the time necessary to study the science of “impulse buying” as it applies to his or her specific store? One way is to take a lesson from similar retail establishments, such as those that handle hardware. When you do, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that sitting on or near the checkout counter(s) are some of the very same products that a typical locksmith might handle.

“The ways in which you can use merchandising to encourage customers to make an impulse purchase are limited only by your imagination. And don’t just rely on the checkout counter. The best strategy is to find ways throughout the store to suggest add-on items. Some of the tactics to consider are strategically placed clipstrips, dump bins in power aisles and attractive endcaps,” says Jesse Carleton, author of Impulse Merchandising Tactics That Drive Sales (

What Do You Sell and Where Do You Put It?

Probably the two biggest questions that locksmiths have when they contemplate merchandise displays -- specifically designed to catch the attention of impulse buyers - -is what do they sell and where are the best places to display these goods in their store.

Going back to our hardware establishment suggestion, what are the first things you see when you enter a typical hardware retail store? Often times you find finger foods, such as candy of all kinds and other snacks. In the mix you’re also likely to find an assortment of keys and key accessories. A good example of this is key rings, different size rings, as well as personalized rings, fancy keys, colorized key covers, and more.

“When it comes to point of sale items and displays we have many different types of display available for keys, and accessories. Some which will hold as few as 24 keys, up to 84 hook display are available in both stationary and spinning styles. All of the displays are available for purchase, but majority of the time customers get them for free with a minimum purchase of so many keys,” says Cameron Bradbeer, Vice President with Klassy Keys of St. Petersburg, Florida. “Having the keys next to where the customer stands is the best way to up-sell the customer to a painted key, while they wait they normally spin the display around and see something which perks their interest. Most painted keys retail for $2.99-$5.99 but some licensed and casted keys can sell for up to $8.99, it just depends on what the market will bear.”

Expanding the Impulse-Buying Concept

Lucky Line Products Inc. also has introduced a new product line, called UtiliCarry® consisting of 22 unique products for everyday use, such as Multi-Tools, Carabiners, Bottle Openers, LEDs, Whistles and more.

“UtiliCarry® by Lucky Line® is a comprehensive line of compact, convenient tools and accessories, essential for everyday tasks. All accessories are small enough to attach to a keychain, stash in a glove compartment or tuck into a briefcase, purse or backpack. Each product was chosen for quality, price, durability and usefulness, specifically to cater to EveryDay Carry (EDC) needs. What is EDC? Useful tools for EveryDay Carry to have close at hand,” says Lucky Line President, Bill Fleming.

Many times the purchase of keys and other impulse items can lead to bigger sales. For example, John Arango with The Zeno Group says that Master Lock encourages locksmiths to think through what complementary categories can solve their security challenges. When customers need keys copied, locksmiths can suggest lock boxes to securely store their keys for service providers or emergency access. In fact, Arango says that Master Lock has seen demand grow for lock boxes among locksmiths, including the following products: Bluetooth Portable Lock Box 5440D, the Universal Lock Box Model 5420D, and the Light Up Dial Portable Lock Box Model 5424D (see sidebar for these and other product display information).

“Locksmiths are long-standing, valued partners of Master Lock. With their knowledge and experience, locksmiths discuss the security options of different padlocks to find the best solution for their customers’ security needs and price points. In addition to core padlocks, we offer a variety of merchandising kits, product display boards and complementary products, such as lock boxes, that can add value for customers and help locksmiths’ businesses thrive,” says Sherri Hanson, Sr. Product Manager – Commercial Security, Master Lock of Oak Creek, WI.

“Security should be taken seriously, and Pro-Lok’s® line of retail items offer professional choices such as Kalifornia Key Chains, Entry Armor™ security door hardware, and Affordable Safes to create opportunities to increase your overall business,” says Pro-Lok’s Duberstein.

Mobile locksmiths may appear to be an exception, but they’re really not.

“A mobile locksmith could certainly incorporate some carded items from the planograms in their vans. Mobile locksmiths have space constraints so they operate differently – stocking daily for what their schedule requires and maximizing options that make as little space as possible, such as the American Lock A3650 Multi-Cylinder Padlock with a quick-change shackle,” says John Arango, Other tools like literature and the website, would help mobile locksmiths do the same thing as the boards – walk clients through options to arrive at the best solution for their security needs.”

In conclusion, the need to increase earning is common to all businesses, not just locksmithing. The smart use of locksmith merchandising programs, that many times includes the displays themselves with a minimum order, is common across all business classifications where it comes to retail sales. Whether you have have a storefront in a big city or a small shop tucked away on a side street somewhere in a small town, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t take advantage of the foot traffic you get.