Advertising & Marketing

The Importance of Impulse: Checkout Process Best Practices to Increase Sales

The checkout transaction doesn’t have to be the end of your customers’ shopping experience. That moment when the customer is checking out is the perfect opportunity for many stores to make additional sales that otherwise couldn’t happen. Use these checkout process best practices to boost your sales, utilize wasted checkout opportunities, and offer your customers an elevated shopping experience they’ll come back for. 

The Rules of the Checkout Sale

Do you have a product you want to push, or a sale you want to promote? The moment your customers are checking out is the perfect time to squeeze in a last- minute product that they otherwise wouldn’t give a second glance to. However, if you don’t do it right, customers just aren’t going to take the bait. If you really want to nail that last- minute sale, here are some basic rules you should keep in mind: 

  • Keep it Affordable: Checkout purchases are all about impulse buys, so don’t expect to sell your $2,000 flatscreens at the checkout.
  • Don’t Overwhelm with Options: Too many options can be a sensory overload, causing customers to glance right past the display or list of suggestions. Keep it simple and tidy.
  • Relevance Rules: Especially with online sales, customers may favor something to enhance their purchase, like gift wrapping or extended warranties.
  • Add Urgency: If they think an offer is disappearing once they check out, customers will be more likely to make that impulse buy rather than put it off to think about later.
  • It’s Not Always About the Sale: If you’re sacrificing future business for the immediate sale, you’re shooting yourself in the foot. Always prioritize a pleasant checkout experience over pushing products.

In-Person Retail Checkout Counter Ideas

Brick and mortar shops don’t have the benefit of pop-ups and guiding links to push their last-minute sales, but that doesn’t mean they can’t catch the customer’s eye on the way out. Here are some hot retail checkout counter ideas that are sure to earn some extra sales: 

Eye-Catching Counter Displays

How you display your products can be just as important as what you display. Keep things close to eye level or located where the customer will already be looking during the checkout process. You can also use attractive colors, decorative lighting, and artistic displays to draw attention to your products. Just make sure they aren’t too distracting, or else you risk making the checkout process overwhelming to your customers. 

Items of Convenience

Shopping bags, gift bags, reusable cups, and other convenience items catered to taking home your purchases are the perfect things to put by the checkout. These little accessories make the journey home much easier for the customer and also act as take-home reminders for them to come back again. 

Something For the Kids

There is absolutely nothing more motivating than a screaming child, and if you offer something at checkout that will bring those sweet little smiles back, you can bet parents will be willing to pay a couple dollars to make it happen. A not-too-sugary treat, a coloring book, a silly pen, or a small toy are great things to display either for the kids to snatch up or for the parents to offer for a peaceful checkout experience. 

A Quick Treat

A treat doesn’t have to be edible to be indulgent. While chocolate bars and gum packs are always popular, a pair of earrings, fuzzy socks, or a souvenir-style trinket are all indulgent but small gifts someone can pick up for themselves that make going shopping a little more fun. Give them a chance to, on the way out, say “You know what? I deserve a little something for me.” 

Last-Minute Essentials

Batteries, lighters, earbuds, and other small but essential items that people forget they need until they see it are popular items to keep close to the checkout area. When properly displayed, customers are more likely to make that last-minute purchase without the usual second-guessing that happens when they’re out browsing the shelves. 

Pro tip: Want more tips for how to how to increase retail sales for your physical store? Check out our blog post on Marketing Tips to Increase Foot Traffic

Online Cart Checkout Best Practices

Whether your sales happen mostly or only online, you want to make sure you’ve optimized your checkout process. Here are some best practice suggestions to help increase checkout sales while also optimizing the customer experience. 

Pop Ups vs Inserts

Some companies will have pop ups showing their last-minute cart suggestions, while others will show options down at the bottom or in the middle of the checkout overview. When deciding what works best for you, consider what you’re offering. If what you’re offering is cheap but appealing, or if it’s a last-minute sale, giving it a bold popup presentation can help you nail the sale. But if your suggestions are other products that are just related to the purchase, customers may find it more palatable to have them subtly inserted into the page. 

Something Small

Restaurants will offer a dessert, while clothing sites might offer a matching accessory. Whatever your industry, offering something small and relevant to the customer, pulled from auto-generated suggestions based on their purchase, can help you cash in on the excited checkout rush that customers feel when buying something for themselves. A small, simple offer is easy to justify when compared to the larger purchase and can become the impulse buy you’re aiming for. 

Last-Minute Deals

If there’s a product that you’re trying to sell out or an unpopular product that’s just not getting enough attention, offering a sweet deal at checkout is a great way to increase those sales. What will make your offer especially powerful is suggesting that the offer lasts only until checkout, which means that once they pass on the deal, it’s gone. As previously discussed, that urgency is an important factor for nailing those last-minute sales that customers otherwise would end up talking themselves out of. 

Free Shipping Minimums

People want to save on shipping, even if it ends up costing them more in the product itself. If you’re looking to get some extra sales or revenue, try making free shipping offers. For example, many companies will have a $25 order minimum for free shipping. When a customer comes up short, that’s the perfect time to push some impulse buy options to fill the gap and, in their mind, save money on shipping. You can also offer free shipping subscriptions that can be purchased at checkout to encourage return business through the period of the subscription. 

The Sales Funnel

If you have only a few products or services to sell, sales funnels are a popular way to take your customer on a journey that hypes up your product with limited-time discount offers, add on options, informational videos, and more. If you have a bold new product or something you really want to push to your customer, try out a sales funnel ad as opposed to the traditional checkout experience, then take them to your normal website after the purchase. 

Promote Your Brand with These Checkout Product Ideas

Now that you know how to show off your checkout products, here are some product ideas for you to offer both online and in-person to boost your sales and promote your brand at the register. 

Branded Pens

These are a popular all-industry item to put at your checkout, register, or online cart suggestions. Branded pens are affordable, fun, and can be very attractive to customers when they feature high-trend designs. You can also offer them as free promotional gifts with purchases. Free gifts may not increase sales in the moment, but they can help promote brand visibility and loyalty with your customers for the long term. 

Custom Treats

Tasty treats are the ultimate impulse buy product that offers the opportunity for amazing sensory impressions on your customers that last after the checkout. Chocolates, mints, and other custom candies are great promotional items to keep right at your checkout register or offer alongside online purchases. 

Shopping Totes

We’ve talked about convenience items, and shopping totes are the ultimate checkout product for in-person retail. A trendy shopping tote that’s built to last but is affordable enough to be a last-minute checkout purchase will have the best success with your customers. Not only can they increase immediate sale numbers, but they’ll also encourage customers to return to your shop with the same bag in the future. 

Merch Mugs

Whether you offer really good coffee or are just a fun brand customers will want to show off, custom mugs are the gold standard of branded merch. No matter what your customers drink, mugs are fun, trendy, and a must for any home or office. If you don’t have a lot of low-cost items to offer at checkout, customize your own mugs to promote your brand and boost your sales numbers. 

Commemorative Clothing

Is your brand something customers will want to show off to their friends? Custom branded hats, shirts, and sunglasses can be a fun item to display near checkout. A fun shirt or hat is a common impulse buy item that can have lasting value to your brand as customers wear and show off your logo to friends, family, and everyone they pass on the street. 

Ready to revamp your checkout process? These checkout process best practices are our key to creating a profitable checkout experience that optimizes urgency, space, and convenience to create last-minute sales opportunities that customers can’t resist. Don’t let that checkout time go to waste—use these tips and get those sales numbers up! 

Katie Yelisetti

From marketing tips to product recommendations, I’m here to help small businesses be their best.

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