Are Checkout Impulse Buys a Mobile Casualty?
According to a recent Bloomberg article, sales of magazines, gum and other items typically stocked near grocery checkout counters have fallen sharply over the last year and a half. The possible culprit: smartphones occupying shoppers’ attention during wait times.
The problem of "mobile blinders is a huge factor," Marshal Cohen, an analyst at NPD Group, told Bloomberg. "Companies have to rethink the in-store experience."
The article stated that stores are already seeking alternatives to impulse buying at the checkout counter. For instance, Coke is adding single-serve drink coolers away from the front of the store. Hearst, the parent of Cosmopolitan, Good Housekeeping and Elle, is planning 20 in-store campaigns this year with Coke and L’Oreal SA, up from four in 2012.
But with much of the evidence anecdotal, some aren’t sure of mobile’s impact on impulse checkout purchases. Higher taxes, commodity prices and gasoline costs could be responsible for the recent downward trend in single-copy magazine sales, according to Mark Peterson, vice president of newsstand sales at Meredith Corp., publisher of Better Homes and Gardens and Family Circle.
Moreover, many believe e-coupons sent to mobile phones in aisles and other digital approaches will only expand impulse opportunities at checkout and across the store.
"By using location and behavior-based cues, savvy brands can reach consumers when and where it matters most," wrote Bonin Bough, VP of global media and consumer engagement at Mondelez International, in the recent article on Harvard Business Review’s blog. "This could take the form of a mobile-based deal on gum mapped to a consumer’s daily commute (a time when people are most likely to be chewing gum), or delivering a coupon for chocolate to a consumer’s phone while they’re in a long checkout line, engrossed in their phone instead of looking up at product displays."
- Shoppers’ ‘Mobile Blinders’ Force Checkout-Aisle Changes – Bloomberg News
- Four Ideas for Creating Mobile Strategy – Harvard Business Review Blog – Harvard Business Review
- ‘Mobile Blinders’ At Retail: Another Opportunity To Turn Mass Into Me Media? – Mediapost
- Mobile And Impulse Purchases: Perfect Together – Storefrontbacktalk
- Study: Self-Checkout Curtails Impulse Buys – RetailWire
What effects do you suspect smartphones are having on impulse purchases at checkouts? What merchandising adjustments may be necessary for typical checkout impulse items? Overall, will mobile devices result in more or fewer opportunities for impulse shopping across the store?