Impulse, the Icing on the Cake

To be able to influence a person to increase the items in the shopping basket or the value of their purchases by 80% is quite mind blowing when you think about it.


An impulse purchase is a product a customer had no intention of buying, but they saw something while browsing that influenced their decision to buy.

Experience in garden centres suggests between 60 and 80% of a customer’s total shop has resulted from impulse buys while browsing.

There is research that suggests shoppers are more inclined to make unplanned purchases at physical stores compared with e-commerce sites. At least 40% of them spending more money than they planned in bricks and mortar stores.  Bricks and mortar retailers, especially garden centres, have more control over customer’s shopping experiences. We can engage people’s senses and can influence purchasing decisions though strategic placement, signage and presentation.

To be able to influence a person to increase the items in their shopping basket or the value of their purchase by 80% is quite mind blowing when you think about it. It’s simple to achieve too if you employ strategies to make it happen:

  • Decide the items customers usually go for and place product you would like to move quickly near these areas i.e. position products near your best or most prominent sellers.

  • Use fit for purpose fixtures, dump bins and staging that maximise the visibility and appeal of the product.

  • Make sure the product you want to promote compliments the best sellers.

  • Place demand product such as punnet seedlings and bedding towards the back of the garden centre, encouraging them to walk past most of your seasonal stock along the path first, maximising impulse sales

  • Choose impulse products wisely. The best are products that are easy to grasp – physically and mentally. If people have to question what it is, they are less likely to pick it up. Uncomplicated, handy and economical can be a good rule of thumb

  • Take a few minutes to do a demonstration, have plenty of stock on hand, put it on facebook. Perhaps give out free samples if appropriate.

  • Social media marketing, mobile apps and retailer texts can drive unplanned visits and purchases

  • Capture their attention while they wait


Hit the right psychological triggers with your signage:

  1. Urgency – Limited time deals such as “Today Only” in the heading makes it more compelling
  2. Value – make people see it’s a generous offer or good deal through the use of bold red text for multi-buys or buy 1 get 1 free etc.
  3. Excitement or novelty will attract notice from customers without always having to throw in an offer. If it’s fresh, new, different, original people will notice them if they are in the right location

Keep in mind customers often are not tempted to buy something they don’t need early in their visit and there is a natural order to shopping especially if they are buying plants. Their planned purchase will come first, followed by product to enhance such as an attractive container, followed by product to look after it.


- Joy Lamb