Leveraging Impulse Buying with Gilbarco Veeder-Root’s Countertop Merchandising System: Impulse: Part 2 in a Series

The following is the second in a series of blog posts about impulse purchasing and how to leverage Gilbarco Veeder-Root’s Impulse countertop merchandising system to increase c-store retail sales, profitability, customer insights and customer loyalty.

Our last blog talked about the psychology of impulse buying. There are several reasons people buy on impulse beyond actually “needing” a product. Accordingly, retailers leverage this knowledge by creating and stocking attractive merchandising displays at the counter or the checkout line. The merchandise often consists of low-cost but high-margin items like food, beverages and useful hard goods like batteries — great for increasing sales. Today’s blog will show and prove how Gilbarco Veeder-Root’s Impulse countertop merchandising system leverages impulse buying at the highest level.

While there are seven common steps in the sales cycle, one of the hardest steps is simply asking for the sale. Why? Fear of the word “no.” Further, in an attempt to increase sales, counter staff really don’t have the time to prospect, build rapport, and identify needs — plus they, too, don’t want to hear “no.”

Gilbarco’s Impulse, however, does three things automatically while customers are at the counter. First, it’s not static like a pack of gum sitting in a box — it commands attention and catches peoples’ eyes with high quality, full-motion color graphics.

Second, Impulse it is better at communicating a “special” and we know from the last blog, people love a deal and they gravitate toward perceived value. It’s often difficult to identify on-sale items at the checkout without cluttering up the entire display and counter area.

Last, Impulse asks the dreaded question that closes the sale: “Would you like a Snicker’s today? They’re on sale, too!” All people have to do is touch the touch-screen display to add the merchandise to their “basket.”  Remember, too, from the last blog that people often don’t buy for logical reasons, they buy for emotional reasons. Just making them aware of a product or that it’s on sale is often enough, given the psychology of impulse buying we learned about last time.

Gilbarco has and continues to capture and analyze real-time data from its installed base of Impulse merchandising units. Most recently, it produced a report showing results from 70 Impulse customers, across 421 lanes in a sixteen-week period.

By annualizing the data of this sample group, it calculated an average of $3,088 in increased sales per lane which translates to about $257 per lane on a monthly basis.

The analysis also produced a per lane margin calculation using a blended incremental margin of 33%. The annualized incremental margin per lane came to $1,019 which translates to $85 monthly.

With numbers and calculations, there are always caveats. Several factors play into the numbers. For example, some stores are (and were for the sample) better than others in developing appealing promotions. Impulse can suggest promotional tactics but it can also be programmed to promote certain items or “bundles” at various discounts at certain times of the day, days of the week and more. What’s key here is that Impulse can show owner/operators, via numbers and graphs, which promotions work better than others and when, etc. Savvy c-store owner/operators soon learn to analyze the data to develop promotional programs with greater yield.

Impulse also has the ability to “learn” about your customers' tendencies and buying patterns using an integral “affinity engine.” It uses loyalty program information as well as purchases to predict what type of offers might result in another sale to a specific customer, i.e., it remembers. It’s important to remember that the Impulse has three points of engagement with customers, too: pre-transaction, during the transaction and post-transaction. Each of these “points” can help c-store owners/operators learn more about customers and how to engage them.

We just started to touch on customer loyalty and the voice-of-the-customer (VOC) at the end of this blog. Impulse has the power to run loyalty programs and it’s a great tool for learning more about customers so you can enhance their experience at your operation. Further, it can increase upsell rates with them.

The next blog post will discuss how Impulse and VOC can help you learn more about your customers’ needs, wants and preferences to help influence their impression of your store. Leveraging that information, we’ll learn how Impulse can support and enhance your loyalty program in the last blogs in the series. Both topics are intertwined as you will see.

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