Impulse Buying Through Customers’ Eyes

July 6, 2010
The sales of impulse items and the standard over-the-counter sales of duplicate keys, etc., can go a long way to cover the costs of day-to-day operation.

Markets, convenience stores, and large and small hardware stores prominently display items along the checkout aisles or on the counters to trigger a wanted or impulsive (additional) purchase by a customer. The impulsive purchase of an item is one that the customer probably would not have considered if the item was not directly in front of him or her.

Impulse items appeal to the emotional sides of customers. Most items bought on impulse are not considered necessary in the customers’ lives. Impulse buying is not limited to inexpensive items.

A good example of impulse buying is going food shopping when you are hungry and buying those snack items that immediately catch your eye.

Research has demonstrated that the longer a person stays in a store, the more money that person spends. This is why more and more stores do not have straight front-to-back aisles. Markets are beginning to rearrange and resize their aisles to require customers to walk further to get anywhere including out.

For store-based locksmiths, the opportunities to market your business has never been better. There are so many impulse items related to keys and security, that it can be difficult to decide what products to offer your customers.

According to Lucky Line, “Locksmiths were buying our multiple product cards years ago, thinking it was cheaper to buy the product that way. Today about 95 percent of locksmiths buy the individually carded items because the reorder quantities are smaller, so the dollar investment is lower per product, plus they can display many more choices for the consumer in the same amount of space.”

For this article, I visited an existing locksmith store to see what a customer will see when entering, walking through the showroom and at the counter making their purchases.

This locksmith store is about 2000 square feet, having approximately 1000 square feet of showroom available to customers. The showroom is further divided by 60 percent dedicated to safes, and the remaining 40 percent to locks, keys and related security products.

An annunciator is interconnected with the front door. When a person opens the door, a notifying sound occurs and one of the employees will quickly walk out and greet the customer.

The store is long rectangle with the entrance towards the center of a long side. Starting at the hinge side of the front door, the right side of the store is dedicated to safes. Two seven-foot-tall racks stocked with Medeco product stand side by side, creating an eight-foot wall just behind the hinge side of the door. On the back of the racks are color samples for safes and several smaller safes are on display.

To the left of the door are two cases, one tall and one short. The tall case has sliding glass doors and contains a variety of concealment devices (key hiders). Made from an ordinary household objects such as a cleaning product, book, pillow, soda or water bottle or can, or a food item, the concealing device is hollow, used to hide things. The idea is that an inconspicuous object would not be expected to contain anything of value.

In addition to household items, there are outside items including the Lucky Line Sprinkler Key Hider that looks like a black plastic sprinkler head. The cap unscrews having enough room to conceal a number of keys. The cap fits air tight protecting the content. On the bottom level are door closers. On top of the case are more products.

The shorter case is open with white boxed residential entry locks and deadbolts. On the upper shelf are racks with $5 special items. On the top half shelf are mounted mechanical and electromechanical locks.

The cases on the left and the racks on the right create an aisle that customers entering the store must navigate. Just past this and directly in front of them is the counter which also contains many impulse items.

The front of the counter has a slotted board that can accommodate a variety of merchandise hooks. Abus padlocks, International Door Closer hardware and Master Lock padlocks and hasps are displayed. Plus, an information board asks, “Do you know this about burglaries?” and presents burglary facts and figures.

On the counter are painted, patented and artistic keys, key covers, Pig lights (a big seller), and a sunglass rack. The sunglasses are offered year round. During summer, there are hats including straw cowboy, pork pie, Indiana Jones type and baseball caps. The demand is high and the profit margins are more than 100 percent. This reinforces that opinion that no one should limit his or her consideration of impulse items just to security. In front of the cash register are a Medeco sign and Arrow Revolution brochures.

Both Lucky and Pro-Lok offer hundreds of impulse items. This variety of items can offer your customers a wide range of choices. With impulse items, try a new item when reordering to replace one or two slower selling items.

Painted, patented and artistic keys are available from manufacturers including Howard Keys, Jet Hardware, Kaba Ilco, Klassey Keys and Klinky.

Behind the wall is the divider between the showroom and the work area. There is a walkway to the left and a cutout in the wall to the right of the cash register. The way the store is laid out, an employee working on a lock can see the cash register, the front door and most of the showroom.

On this dividing wall, there are impulse items individually packaged key ring accessories and board mounted key chains of varying sizes and shapes, flashlights, garage and gate remotes, a bottle lock, Remote Skins and a Keyless Ride Entry Battery Station with tester.

Lucky Line has introduced the Remote Skin® an innovative solution to broken vehicle remotes, making them usable. The remote skin is a weather resistant soft neoprene body with a vinyl window that slides over a broken or intact remote. The Remote Skin protects the remote from the elements. Three sizes of Remote Skins have built-in key rings.

Also on this wall is a monitor connected to four CCTV cameras located throughout the showroom area. When customers walk up to the counter, they can see themselves and other areas of the showroom. According to the locksmith owner, introduction of the CCTV system has significantly reduced “shrinkage.”

Suggestion: Place a sign next to a camera or monitor that reads, “We can install this in your business or home.”

To the left of the front counter, an aisle between the half wall separates the key cutting area and the tall and short cases. The back of the shorter case has displays of the Don-Jo door hardware products, sliding bolts and door viewers. The tall case is also open on this side with concealment devices and door closers.

The half wall contains individually packaged items mounted onto boards. These include cam locks, sliding door bar locks and lock boxes. At the end of this dead-end aisle is an Abus standalone display.

Kalifornia Key Chains give keys character and personality. Pro-Lok’s just introduced line of Entry Armor has added new security options for door hardware latch protection, wrap plates, home security and commercial security products.

Behind half wall of this aisle way the key cutting area extends the entire depth of the showroom. Behind the key machines on the wall is the keyboard and above it some wall displays for door hardware, A. D. A. Approved signs and painted key blanks. Just above the keyboard are bright signs printed with Door Security, CCTV, Latch Protection, etc.

To the right of the counter is the safe area. Safes are on the floor, in racks and on top of other safes. Options range from inexpensive fire safes and boxes, in-floor safes to TL-30X6 safes that are sold to jewelry enthusiasts. They even sell the Stealth Safe, an innovative in the floor safe for a van, recreational vehicle, raised foundation or concrete floor.

At any one time, at least 50 safes are on the showroom floor. Mechanical and electromechanical safe locks are on display, including cutaways. Displays educate the customer, including one that describes fire protection materials. To expand on the possibility of selling a safe, a few used safes are on the floor at all times.

This locksmith store sells a number of fingerprint safes. The Pro-Lok Fingerprint Safes include the GLSF-08FP and GLSF-10FPM. Both of these safes store up to 30 fingerprints. They are manufactured of steel and have two 3/4” diameter chrome bolts to protect against unauthorized access. Each safe is equipped with a shelf and a mechanical override lock.

In addition to safes, they sell safe accessories. A good seller is Sack-ups, a producer of storage pouches and rolls for guns and knives. To maximize a safe’s storage capability, Stack-on sells fabric safe and security cabinet organizers. In addition, desiccants and electric humidifiers keep the interior of the safe and its contents from being damaged by humidity.

Along the upper portion of one wall are signed photographs of famous persons who have purchased safes.

This locksmith store contains the most impulse items I have ever seen. An important note is everything is marked; there is a yellow price tag on just about every product or product container.