Spur Impulse Buys with the Right Product Placement and Mix at Your Truckstop


Everyone is starved for times these days, but customers at truckstops and travel plazas are in even more of a hurry than most. They are looking to get in and out of the location quickly and aren’t hanging around to shop. That means last-minute purchases are a key component of truckstop and travel plaza sales. There are several ways store operators can drive impulse buys.

Using the Counter
The counter is the last stop customers make and is prime real estate for impulse items, so it is important to use it wisely. Some retailers have five or six programs on their counters, and all products in this space should drive top line revenue.

Candy on the Counter
If you put candy on the counter, avoid giving customers a trade down. Opt for multi-packs of gum versus the smallest option and don’t place king-size bars next to regular size. The same thing goes for lighters, USB chargers or other cellular type of products.

A large percentage of truckstop and travel plaza customers make a beeline straight to the counter, so having food—either hot or cold—on the counter is critical to overall success. Offer customers a final chance to pick up grab-and-go food.

Emphasizing End Caps
End caps are important locations within truckstops and travel plazas, so eye-catching displays and the right products can spur sales. However, end caps may or may not be the place to emphasize impulse purchases depending on where they’re located. If you don’t have end caps in locations where you think impulse purchases would happen, don’t be afraid to create other display mechanisms.

Think About Positioning
Positioning is what can turn a regular product into an impulse buy. Studies show the cashier counter and restroom areas are heavily trafficked, so these are great locations for food items we want customers to buy. They are also primary locations for items we want to target to specific customer types. If you’re trying to get females to shop the store, have your gifts and apparel products on the path to the restroom. Sunglasses, which are products a lot of Americans either forget or break, can be an impulse item when positioned near the front of the store versus having sunglasses deep into the location.

Challenging the Norm
Sometimes we do things just because that’s how we’ve always done it, such as putting candy or chips on the counter. Instead of going with the traditional impulse items, ask yourself what would happen if you tried something else. What if you put women’s purses or baseball caps in your impulse areas? Could you create a new type of impulse item for your store?

Highlighting Seasonal Items
Seasonal items, whether they’re related to holidays or the time of year, can be great impulse purchases. Consider creating fun themes and positioning them in high-traffic locations, including the counter.

Darren Schulte's photo

Darren Schulte

Darren Schulte serves as Vice President of Membership at NATSO. In this role, he directs recruitment, retention and customer service for truckstop and travel plaza members. He is also responsible for developing NATSO products and programs, particularly those relating to education, research and training for truckstop and travel plaza operators. Schulte also leads NATSO's Profitable Retail Review program. A Profitable Retail Review is a custom assessment of your truckstop, including recommendations for every aspect of your facility, from actionable ideas to improve revenue to tactical ways to improve your net operating costs. Schulte joined NATSO with nearly three decades of experience in truckstop and travel plaza operations and merchandising. Schulte has worked for: Love's Travel Stops and Country Stores, HESS Corporation, Petro Stopping Centers, and TSC Global/Barjan LLC.More
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