The 5 Factors of Point of Sale Decisions

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Yan Simard
Yan Simard



point-of-saleDid you know that the majority of retail purchases are unplanned? According to research by shopper marketing experts, 68 percent of all purchases happen spontaneously. Even more surprising is the finding that 70 percent of brand choices happen in-store. Only 5 percent of shoppers demonstrate brand loyalty, and the other 95 percent are up for grabs.

Point of sale decisions can make or break your brand experience. When setting your customer experience and sales goals, you need to think about the shoppers.

“For example, brand design should be executed with the 3S’s in mind – the shelf, the store and the shopper – as opposed to the traditional focus on bringing to life the brand essence/pyramid/onion,” writes the Brand Genetics team in a review of Markus Stahlberg and Ville Maila’s book “Shopper Marketing: How to Increase Purchase Decisions at the Point of Sale.”

Here are the five reasons people decide to buy:

1. Emotional Connections

When people shop, they think with both their emotional and rational brains. Emotions, however, are what fuel the decision to buy. “Rational thinking will only justify their emotional choice,” writes Peep Laja of ConversionXL.

Even the most rational people make emotional decisions subconsciously.

“What is even more interesting is that people who claim emotions are not that important, who consider themselves to be really rational are actually more prone to fall into this trap,” stated McCombs School of Business professor Raj Raghunathan and Ph.D. student Szu-Chi Huang in a research study.

The key takeaway from this finding is that every marketing message needs an emotional appeal.

In an article for “Entrepreneur,” Susan Gunelius writes, “Think about how you feel when you hear marketing messages and how those feelings affect your own buying decisions.”

She recommends focusing on emotional triggers like trust, value, belonging, instant gratification, trendsetting and time.

2. Peer Expertise

Peer reviews are no longer limited to shoppers doing at-home background research. With smart phones, shoppers can research products right up to the point of transaction.

According to a recent holiday shopping study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, 24 percent of cell phone owners use their phones to look up product reviews online while in-store.

Allow your customers easy access to reviews, either through your own website or by syncing up to reviews from other sources. Keep an open forum because bad reviews can help too.

“Companies understandably try to quash negative publicity, but our analysis suggests that this isn’t always the best tactic,” writes Jonah Berger of Harvard Business Review. So as long as the good outweighs the bad, shoppers are smart enough to appreciate a balanced and honest assessment of what they’re buying.

3. Simplified Visual Cues

“Every time the brain thinks, it uses glucose. The more thought an activity requires, including shopping, the more tired a person will become,” writes Jay Ehret of The Marketing Spot, citing Philip Graves of Consumer.ology. “If you require people to think too much to make a purchase from you, you are exhausting them, and the unconscious mind doesn’t like that.”

Leave people with too many choices and they’ll feel too overwhelmed to buy at all. Instead, rely on subtle visual cues to guide them towards a purchase.

“As retailers increasingly ban in-store marketing materials, packaging is the main way brands can do effective shopper marketing and optimize purchase decisions at point of purchase,” writes the Brand Genetics staff.

Leverage streamlined and consistent designs. Be different from competitors so that you stand out and appeal to your shoppers’ values (e.g. environmental sustainability).

4. Sensory Aesthetics

People experience the world with more than just their eyes. They hear, smell, taste and touch too. Whether or not people realize it, the collective experience from their senses can influence their decisions to buy.

To create an optimal brand experience, appeal to all five senses.

“Utilizing the five senses in your brand experience takes some work to implement and depending on your platform for your business, you may not be able to incorporate all of the senses into your experience,” writes Brandon Allen of Beneath the Cover. “My guess is that there are, however, senses you can incorporate into your business brand that you haven’t even thought about.”

5. Simplicity

People gravitate towards the familiar, and ultimately they’ll buy what they understand.

“For marketers this means that the easier to understand your offer is, the more likely people are to buy it,” writes Laja.

Know your customers. Make product descriptions easy to read and transform your copy into a conversation with the people you’re trying to reach. Make pricing breakdowns easy to understand and compare. Make the most out of the five minutes that shoppers will be spending with your brand.

Strive for a positive first impression because when you do, customers will always want to come back for more.

Topics: Decision Making
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