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Impulse Selling

NRHA Abroad: Small Stores, Big Business

“Oh, that bag of chips looks good. I think I’m in the mood for something salty. I’m also kind of thirsty, or I might be later. Maybe I should grab a water bottle.”

This is what many of your customers are thinking while they’re in line at the register when you’ve done impulse right.

In Sofia, Bulgaria, there are businesses that thrive off of consumer impulses. These types of shops selling snacks, soda, alcohol, water and cigarettes exist in busy locations throughout the city.

During my five-week stay in Sofia, I found myself at these little shops on several occasions. Once on my way to a walking tour when I decided I might want a snack and a water. Once walking home from dinner with a friend who wasn’t going to smoke cigarettes that night, but quickly changed her mind and wanted a pack. Once because I saw something interesting in the window.

As a consumer, these stores annoyed me. I knew I was spending money with these merchants that I otherwise wouldn’t have spent. But as a professional in the independent home improvement industry, I was deeply intrigued by the way they had mastered the art of running a successful small business.

Here’s how they do it.

They pique customers’ interest.

When someone approaches one of these stores, it’s because they see something they want. All of the products offered at the booth are clearly shown either through window displays or photos labeled with prices on the exterior of the shop.

You can adopt this practice by keeping your window displays interesting. Maybe you display your top seasonal items to remind customers of things they may not realize they need. Or maybe you get playful and creative to grab customers’ attention. 

They’re quick, dependable and very well organized.

The customer experience at these shops is fast and painless. The customer approaches the counter and tells the employee working the booth exactly what they want. The person working the booth grabs the item(s). The customer then pays cash and goes on their way in a matter of minutes.

Your store is much bigger than these small shops, but that doesn’t mean you can’t reach the same level of efficiency and structure. Maintain a clean and organized salesfloor, and make sure additional inventory in the back is kept in an orderly fashion. That way, finding what you need should be simple, getting the customer out the door more quickly.

They’re conveniently available.

On my 15-minute walk to the co-working space each day, I passed five of these small shops or booths. The store owners have identified locations that let them intercept the daily lives of Sofia residents.

While you can’t just move your store to the busiest street corner in your city, there are other ways for you to get in front of customers regularly. Consider sponsoring an event or team that puts your logo on signage and jerseys, create a catchy radio advertisement that your customers hear on their way home from work, or try to ramp up your social media efforts.

Here are a few photos of some of the shops I passed by and shopped at regularly during my month in Sofia:

Where in the World Is Hilary?

North American Retail Hardware Association (NRHA) staffer Hilary Welter is spending 12 months traveling with Remote Year, living, working and getting in touch with retail in different parts of the world. She’s currently working from Split, Croatia. To see more NRHA Abroad posts from Welter, click here. For a look at what it’s like to travel, work and live abroad, check out her personal blog.

About Hilary Welter

As marketing and research coordinator, it’s Hilary’s duty to keep retailers informed about NRHA products and services and to help coordinate industry research projects. Additionally, Hilary is the voice behind NRHA’s and Hardware Retailing’s social media accounts. She appreciates a good book, spicy food, well-made horror films, craft beer and exploring new places near and far.

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