What is Impulse Buying and How Can You Use it to Increase Sales?

What is Impulse Buying and How Can You Use it to Increase Sales?

We all have been there, where we saw an Ad on Google/ Instagram and instantly bought the product. It could be some skincare item, an earphone, or something else. A similar pattern is noticed when we enter a store with a ₹500 budget in our hands and a list of items we need. Yet, we end up at the counter with a bill of over ₹2000.

We all hate it, regret it, and want to end this habit of impulse buying. However, if you run a retail or eCommerce store, you want more of such people. They buy more than they intend to, leading to rising sales by a huge margin. But is there something that as a store owner you could do? Could you influence the people in your store to buy more?

What is Impulse Buying?
Factors Affecting Impulse Buying
11 Ways to Increase Impulse Buying in Retail or Online Store

What is Impulse Buying?

Impulse buying is an impromptu purchase without a planned intent. In simpler words, when a person purchases more than they planned. It is a sudden urge to buy, often driven by emotions. Triggering and manipulating buyers' emotions is the primary tool for increasing impulse buys. Let us quickly understand the factors that impact it.

Factors Affecting Impulse Buying

As mentioned above, external and internal factors can impact impulse purchases. Internal factors such as emotions, and external factors such as advertising, store architecture, promotions, etc. play a big role in influencing people. They can majorly impact your sales. If leveraged, they can increase the sales by 40-80%. You only need to aim at:

Perceived Value

Do buyers find your store products worth the pricing? We don’t mind spending ₹5000 at Zara but would not spend that kind of money in a local clothing store. You need to ensure that users find your products ‘value for money’. Stores barely play around with their prices and rather offer discounts to enhance perceived value.

Urgency Factor

How many times have we spent thousands on the Pink Friday sale or Independence Day sale mindlessly? Time-restricted discounts and promotional offers can motivate buyers to buy from your store more so than often. They create a sense of urgency and buyers end up buying products they intended to.

Novelty (Uniqueness + Freshness)

BTS X McDonald created hype across the globe amongst the BTS Army. Even though the meal items weren’t really innovative, they brought more than Rs 16,000 crore in profit for Mcdonald's.

When buyers are provided novelty products, people who are excited about that category end up spending a lot. For example, sneakerheads spend thousands on a pair of sneakers just because they find them unique. Your aim should be to offer novelty products to boost impulse buys.

The main aim of a store owner should be to excite people when aiming at impulse purchases. If you are a small store owner try to leverage the pricing factor to induce buyers. Contrarily, if you run a big store, use product displays and promotions as sales drivers. But what is the primary and most effective tool for impulse buying?

Role of Social Media

Imagine sitting on the couch on a fine Sunday evening and you see a promotional post advertising Pasta. Aren’t we automatically tempted to eat some pasta? Although this is not restricted to food only. People end up buying so many products just as a result of social media ads. So, these ads can encourage impulse buys. But how?

These ads aim to trigger certain emotions in the viewer and create a sense of urgency. We have seen those Ads about 20-45% off on XYZ brand for today only. These help a lot to bring traffic to these companies.

Let us say you are an online store selling marketing services. You can curate an Ad copy that targets customer pain points: “get more traffic” or “10X your revenue”. Pain points help in targeting a particular emotion- fear, happiness, etc.

In addition to this, you could leverage the urgency factor by adding a time-limited deal. Now, you can target these ads geographically or based on people’s activity. It generates a lot of revenue and encourages impulse buying.

Not only do these ads bring sales but also enhance brand recognition and foot reach. It’s a great way to tap the top of the funnel audience.

Now, we will look at some other actionable tips that you could use to enhance your sales through impulse buys.

What drives customers to buy products impulsively
What drives customers to buy products impulsively

How to Reduce Customer Churn Rate: 5 Proven Strategies
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11 Ways to Increase Impulse Buying in Retail or Online Store

With the surge of online advertisements, social media marketing, and influencer marketing, impulse buys are at their highest. Here are 11 ways you can subconsciously trigger buyers to spend more time and money at your store.

Strategic Product Placement

Product placement is crucial to increase average order value and boost impulse buys.

Place complementary products/services together. This acts as a great way to cross-sell and avoids buyers from running to other stores to buy these items. For an eCommerce store, try adding suggestions of complementary products next to the items.

Place popular or best-selling items at the buyer’s eye level to increase the reach and chances of selling. If you are running an eCommerce store, position these products on your home page at the top to grab maximum attention.

In addition to this, add products with higher value at a better position on the shelf. For eCommerce stores, target best-selling high-end products on various pages of your website.

Utilize Check-out Counters

We see how when we are checking out of stores or any eCommerce stores, there are product recommendations at the checkout page/ counter. You need to utilize them strategically. Here are a few tips on the items you should add at the check-out.

  1. Don't add expensive products.
  2. Don’t give too many options which might leave room for doubt.
  3. Add smaller products that don’t demand too much thinking.

Your aim at this stage is to increase the revenue by smaller margins instead of making a big sale.

Offer Free Samples/Demos

Stores like Sephora offer free samples and demos to the people that walk into the store. These generally result in impulse purchases if they end up liking the product. This doesn’t really cost a lot and helps in boosting revenue. You can offer free samples at a purchase threshold at your eCommerce store to increase order value.

Leverage In-store Staff

In-store staff can play an important role in inducing more sales. A staff that works around with enthusiasm and guides properly can help to boost impulse buys. For an eCommerce store, this role can be filled by chatbots and chat support to help solve buyers' queries. Nonetheless, a congenial staff is advantageous for a retail store.


Apt promotion beforehand can impact impulse purchases. The aim is to provide conditional offers and limited-time deals. They bring more sales in a short time and create an urgency factor. This also enhances perceived value when buyers think that they back a deal worth their money. Some examples are:

  1. Buy one get one free
  2. 20% off on all items till coming Sunday
  3. Get 10% off on apparel purchases every weekend
  4. 25% off on purchases over 4000.

Window Display

Window displays in retail stores and home pages in an eCommerce store can make or break the deal for the store revenue. Add best-selling items and most trendy/ popular products here. This is a great place to highlight novelty products offered in your store. It is like a cover page for your store that can enhance impulse buys.

Cross Merchandise

Bundling is a great way to enhance impulse buys. It could be in either cross-sell or upsell format. You can pair complimentary or highlight an upgraded version. This acts as a great way to enhance impulse buys.

Ease the Buying Process

The buying process should be easy. A hasty process can lead to customers dropping the products from the cart which negatively impacts store revenue. You might lose a customer as well. Hence, an easy process coupled with cooperative staff plays a major role for a store.

Offer Novelty Items

Novelty items in your store can get a lot of eyeballs to your store and eventually help you in impulse buys. Not only do you end up selling novelty items but as and when more people walk into the store, more revenue is guaranteed.

Highlight Social Proof

Social proof is another driver for impulse buys. At times people when they read good reviews or see happy customers, end up purchasing the goods from the store. If not, they don’t hesitate to check the store which ends up in a purchase eventually.

Enable Free Returns

Free returns can help stores to build credibility and ensure customers that even if they don’t like the product they can return it. Although it can be a big hindrance for your business if buyers exploit it. So, offer limited day conditional free return.


Customer psychology can help a lot with increasing revenue. All these tactics can bring more impulse buys to your store. Social media can be the biggest driver for impulse buys whilst all these techniques surely help too. Just focus on customer needs and trigger the right emotions to skyrocket revenue for your business.


What is impulse buying?

Impulse buying is when a buyer purchases a product or service without giving it much thought.

What are the 4 types of impulse purchasing?

Pure impulse purchase, Suggestion impulse purchase, Reminder impulse purchase, and Planned impulse purchase.

What do impulse buyers buy?

A common example of impulse buying is when consumers buy candies, gums, or drinks when they are at the checkout line.

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