How to Encourage Impulse Buys When Shopping Online
When is the last time you shopped online? If you're like most Americans, you not only regularly shop online, but you also check out online deals and reviews while you're making in-store purchases. Fifty-six percent of people research their options online before heading to the mall, and 34 percent of shoppers use their phone to research items while in-store.
Even in our hesitant economy, e-commerce has been and continues to be a booming industry. In fact, online shopping is predicted to increase to $1.4 trillion in 2015, and e-commerce is growing at a steady 10 percent per year.
Although the retail industry as a whole is in crisis when in comparison to booming industry giants such as Amazon.com, there are some benefits to being a brick-and-mortar store. For one thing, consumers enjoy the one-on-one interaction and personal touch that comes from shopping in-person. For another, online shopping makes impulse buys unlikely, meaning that people are less likely to discover a new favorite product and less likely to take a risk on an unplanned purchase.
To fill that need, many online retailers are now looking for a way to increase impulse buys among shoppers. How can retailers catch the eye of online shoppers, who have a short attention span and a goal-oriented mind-set when making purchases?
Here are some ways to encourage those much-needed impulse buys among online shoppers:
1. Use thumbnail images of products. It's crucial to make virtual shopping as visual and hands-on as possible by using thumbnail images of products. These will be more eye-catching and appealing to shoppers as opposed to a bland list of products. Many sites do this, but it's a must-do for those that don't because consumers love to browse, especially young people. Almost half of millennials say they browse online for items, and 72 percent research their options online before buying in-store. Providing a product image allows all of the work done on packaging the product to impact the online shopper.
2. Make your virtual store visually interesting. If you want online shoppers to loiter and browse as they would in a brick-and-mortar store, you have to make your layout visually appealing. Nix ads and choose relaxing and stimulating colors. Offer editorial pieces that highlight the best finds of the week, like Trader Joe's does with its Fearless Flyer. Insert hyperlinks and images so that shoppers can easily add these items to their cart. Make finding deals and featured impulse purchases easy to add to the cart.
3. Use virtual research to your advantage. Online virtual shopping tools provide a realistic shopping experience that enable brands to study things that happen in-store — e.g., how impulse purchases are made. There's a way to package and design virtual offerings to make them appealing and catch people's attention, both online and in-store. Retailers need to know what customers are thinking, especially when it comes to uncharted territory like understanding the mentality of an online shopper. How can you get people to linger on your site? How can you make your online store as enjoyable and interactive as possible? These are all questions that need to be answered for your site to be successful.
Although online shopping is a booming industry, it's also highly competitive and ever-expanding. If you want your site to stick out from the rest, you have to keep shoppers engaged and interested in new products. Find ways to show new products and specials in and around the products they normally purchase. Make it very easy for them to add these featured items to their cart. By encouraging shoppers to get invested in new items and veer from their shopping list, you can increase your bottom line and ensure that your site stays relevant.
Rich Scamehorn is the chief research officer of InContext Solutions, a technology and market research firm.