Boost Your Bottom Line With Sales of Impulse Items

June 1, 2007

Impulse buying is purchasing item(s) that were not thought of prior to entering the store. Upon seeing the item(s), the shopper has a sudden, strong urge to own the item(s). There is no real limitation to what can be considered an impulse purchase. This understanding has been incorporated into all types of store layouts in order to maximize sales obtained from customers. A good example is the standing racks on each side of the check-out lines.

To compliment the impulse buying research, studies have confirmed that the longer a customer stays in a store, the greater the likelihood is that the customer will purchase additional items. This is why markets have the everyday items away from the check-out lines.

This knowledge can provide store-based locksmiths with the opportunity to increase sales and profits. Historically, locksmiths have been offering impulse items for sale via keyboards, lock mounts and accessories visible to the customer. Even in the early days of locksmithing, keyboards, mounted lock samples and key rings were prominently displayed. Why not expand upon this idea?

When a customer enters a locksmith store, he or she is probably in the mind set that there will be some “wait time” in order to complete the desired purchase. Most locksmith customers want more than just a padlock or door lock. Keys must be duplicated. This takes time. Locks that are purchased are normally keyed to an existing key and/or keyed alike if more than one is bought.

Use this time to your advantage. During the “wait” time, your customer will not stand in one place with his/her eyelids shut. He or she will walk around the customer area, looking and probably touching products within reach. Have products within reach.

Make sure the customer area of your store is “customer friendly,” clean and attractive, having a range of interesting products and prices within customers' reach. A store that is dark and dingy, with peeling paint and dirty carpet, will cause most customers to be uncomfortable. This feeling of distress will only result in the customer wanting to leave and never come back.

Impulse items in a “customer friendly” store can include but should not be limited to visual packaged locks, padlocks, and other security items. Mounted samples provide the customer with the ability to test drive locks. A closed box does not create as much interest as a clear packaged product that someone has been thinking about. An illuminated sign with moving letters is one more way to promote your business services as well as specials.

A suggestion I received beyond having visual (clear) packaged locks, is to have examples of the different lock functions, finishes and styles out where a customer can see and touch. For this locksmith, it dramatically increased lock sales and related services.

Offer the customer a 50 percent discount on rekeying any lock purchased at time of purchase. More and more people have had negative experiences at the big hardware stores when it comes to having keys cut or purchasing locks. A simple sign offering a deal can result in additional sales.

Do not limit your impulse items to locks and keys. I know of several locksmiths who sell baseball caps during the winter and sunglasses during the spring and summer. A relatively new product that seems to be a big hit is Pepper Spray. What products do you think will sell well in your neighborhood?

Locksmith-related impulse items have expanded dramatically as a result of the painted keys. There are painted keys for just about every sports activity and team, painted keys for television and movie characters, as well as activities, flags, religious affiliations and just about anything you can think of. Price items correctly to ensure a reasonable profit. Remember, there is no additional labor involved when cutting a painted key.

If some of the impulse items seem to be the type that grow legs, display them within a glass cabinet or shadow box, out of harm's way but very visible. One locksmith shop that I visited for this article sells garage door remotes. Samples are placed in a shadow box on the wall behind the counter. Several signs throughout the store promote that this locksmith store will not only sell you a garage remote, but also where possible, they will program the remote to yours.

Why not sell batteries for garage remotes and vehicle remotes? There are companies that have test equipment and replacement batteries all on one standalone rack.

One reoccurring theme seems to be keeping all similar items together. This seems to be most common for painted keys and key accessories. This way the customer can make the decision without having to move around much.

Just about everyone is looking for a deal. One possibility is to create deal areas within your customer area. This could include something very small such as a basket attached to or on the front counter containing old, new and used padlocks with a sign indicating all of the padlocks are only $$$. Within one such basket, I found several heavy duty padlocks that if they were new and still in their original packaging, they would sell for many times this asking price.

Most locksmiths have locks and other types of door hardware that has been around forever. Why not setup a small table in the customer area and place a sign, “Everything on this table is $$$?” Include at least a few name brand items to draw the customer's attention to the table.

An important aspect of a store's setup is to have the easy-to-identify and read pricing. If your customer has to look or ask for pricing, it normally breaks the flow of the impulse sale.

Track the sales of the different types of item on display. If a particular type of item sells well, try displaying additional products that are similar. If a particular item does not sell well, try discounting the price to see if sales will improve.

Setting up your “customer area” can be accomplished over time. If it is accomplished gradually, the expense is absorbed with the increased profits.