Inspiring Impulse Sales

When stocking up on novelty items, thinking outside the box can help retailers drive big profits.

By Erin Rigik, Associate Editor.

Retailers are driving impulse purchases with unique novelty products, including big ticket items, seasonal displays and small ring products that make everyday life more convenient.

Dallas-based 7-Eleven Inc., for example, is making packing easier for customers with its line of travel health and beauty products in Transportation Security Administration (TSA) approved sizes of less than four ounces. The products carry a retail price of $1.99 each or two items for $3, and range from national brands of toothpastes and shampoos to sunscreens, lotions and hair gel.

Launched this past spring, the travel items are growing in sales, especially in tourist-heavy areas, such as Florida, where customers stock up before a flight or swing by for the toiletries they forgot to pack once they arrive at their destination.

Meanwhile, U-PAK-IT, a 40-store chain of independent operators in Louisiana that shares Evans Oil Co. as a fuel supplier, is drawing customers with a line of seasonal products, many of which retail for between $5-$10.

“This summer our Wow Silicone Slap Watch, Nick Puzzles and Reusable Cups with Straws from Novelty Inc. have been hot,” said Brad Lemoine, marketing director for U-PAK-IT. “We have also done well with our smaller end cap items, such as the rainbow caterpillar.”

Other popular buys included wrought iron garden décor, flip flops, flip flop hangers and cast iron pots.

Go for Guarantees
U-PAK-IT partnered with Novelty Inc. last year to launch a new line of impulse items. It also uses a DSD vendor that delivers impulse merchandise.

Novelty Inc. offers U-PAK-IT a 100% guaranteed program with an incentive rebate for its sell-through performance.
“Novelty Inc. provides us with a 100% guaranteed program that has removed any concern of being stuck with items that are not selling. If they don’t sell, U-PAK-IT can return them, no questions asked,” Lemoine noted.

So far the company hasn’t had to return any items. “We have seen the positive impact of not only providing the customers who visit our stores with innovative, fun, great value items, but U-PAK-IT is making some ‘new money,’ from the novelty section,” he added.  

The chain’s ability to pick and choose the products it features has added to the success of the category. “We have had great sell thru rates due to the price points, low quantities per displays and great value,” Lemoine said.

U-PAK-IT also refreshes its novelty section to fit the seasons. It is set to display a revolving assortment in stores from fall through Christmas and has already picked some new items for Valentine’s Day. Products hitting stores now include rain boots, hunting items, collegiate and NFL items, ceramic travel mugs and fashion wallets.

The chain is also adding fashion hair extensions in stores, which are currently the No. 1 novelty trend in the market across the country.

In time for Christmas, the chain plans to roll out Christmas activity books and puzzles. Its Valentine’s Day 2012 display will again feature its popular plush Jumbo Roses that sold very well in February 2011, among other items.

“Our novelty items are high impulse items that if positioned correctly will sell themselves,” Lemoine said. “The items we sell from Novelty Inc. come with a graphically designed display that acts as a sales person in the store. The display really helps sell the product.”

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