Counter attack: how to increase impulse sales

The counter is the most important place to guarantee impulse sales. Lee Graham looks at how to get five categories at your till right.

The counter is the most important place to guarantee impulse sales. Lee Graham looks at how to get five categories at your till right.

Tobacco & E-Cigs

Traditionally, tobacco commanded a huge presence behind the counter, with large gantries ensuring the category was the main focus.

The display ban, which came to convenience stores in 2015, followed by the removal of smaller packs of tobacco from the market earlier this year, prompted some retailers to move the gantry under the counter or into overhead displays to free up that impulsive space.

Compared to tobacco, e-cigarettes have very few restrictions on how they can be sold, as long as the products comply with EUTPD2 regulations. This means that nicotine should be sold in 10ml containers and nicotine levels are capped at 20mg.

Jennifer Roberts, VP customer marketing at Blu, says: “Retailers can merchandise the category with as much PoS as they like around the store and in shop windows.”

E-cigarettes can be a complex category for new shoppers, which is why you should do everything you can to avoid putting shoppers off. “E-liquid boxes are challenging to see from a distance. Counter-top units are great for displaying them so that consumers can see what is stocked,” Roberts says. 

Food to go

Having coffee or fresh bakery on the counter can tempt shoppers in the morning on the way to work. Here’s how to make sure your food to go sales stay strong throughout the day.

  1. Look around your local area to make sure you're offering something that no one else is.
  2. Bake little and often to ensure your food is as fresh as possible and to minimise waste.
  3. Rotate your offer throughout the day with pastries in the morning and sweet treats in the afternoon.
  4. Stock bakery next to a coffee machine to encourage shoppers to grab a full meal.
  5. Discount your food to go to cost price if it is reaching the end of its shelf life.

Snacks & Confectionery

Snacks is a hugely impulsive category, with 82% of shoppers buying them when they hadn’t planned to.

Placing them under the till is a great way to encourage shoppers to buy once they have reached the counter.

Matt Collins, convenience sales director at KP Snacks, says: “Placing crisps and snacks on promotion has become a great sales driver.”

Having great prices at the counter can give shoppers the perception that your store offers great value throughout. “Forty-three per cent of consumers believe that price-marked packs signify a promotional price,” adds Collins.

Confectionery is hugely impulsive, says Susan Nash, trade communications manager for Mondelez International. “Customers expect on-the-go snacks to be visible and accessible from the front of the store,” she adds.

Merchandising singles at the counter will appeal to shoppers looking for a treat.


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