If you’ve ever shopped at one of those bath and beauty stores, you’ve experienced the “add on” push at the cash register. Just buying one item? The sales clerk will suggest something else in the same scent. Getting a collection of products for gifts? “But you need something for YOU,” comes the gently insistent tone. Because those added, impulse “extras” tally lots more profit.
You can find an even better illustration at any big-name coffee shop. Sure, lots of customers are ordering their standard caffeine-to-go, in sizes to fit the adrenaline lag. But many more are getting a sandwich, or pastry. The oversized to-go cups are popular too, not to mention the small plush teddy bears, greeting cards and even sets of colorful mugs. On a recent snowy morning, I sat in a suburban Starbucks and in half an hour, saw at least 12 customers who didn’t buy a coffee, tea or cocoa. To the musical accompaniment of quiet jazz, they purchased the “extras,” from CDs to gift cards, spending significantly more than they would have on a venti caramel macchiato.
By contrast, a local “independent” coffee shop a block away sat nearly empty, despite much lower prices. Customers could buy only coffee or tea. The floor bore traces of slush, and the silence—not even a radio— told me why the place wasn’t filled.
What struck me was the realization that the “big-time” coffee giant, not the struggling little guy, was the one offering an ever-expanding inventory of items. You’d think an internationally successful brand already profited nicely just from those coffee drinks. But rather than rely on the basics, they “added on,” displaying more and different products to keep customers interested. You’d think the “little” coffee place would try to do the same, just as bookstores have added coffee bars. But it just seems to shrug, “we sell coffee, take it or leave it.”
Do you go beyond the basics and offer customers an “add on”? Think about what “impulse” might appeal to them. The lure of “something special” can be irresistible, and brings them back to see what else might be in store.