Stranded on impulse island


My local pharmacy recently went through yet another remodeling. Even though the store is only two or three years old, the powers that be have already shoehorned in a big grocery section, raised the shelf heights, and most recently, replaced most of the registers with self-checkout kiosks.

However, the self-checkout transition has created an awkward merchandising issue. Like most pharmacies, they have always offered a dizzying array of chewing gum, candy, and other impulse-buy items right at the checkout area. But when they closed many of the checkout counters and replaced them with kiosks, the impulse items got left behind.

In other words, there’s a wide selection of traditionally impulse-oriented products stacked below a bunch of signs directing customers to the self-checkout area. Aside from a few confused stragglers, this area gets very little foot traffic. Accordingly, I suspect that sales of gum, candy and related products have dropped considerably since the changes were made.

Ideally, the store would find a way to move those impulse items closer to the actual point of sale, which in this case means the self-checkout kiosks. Or, the items could be placed in a central location that’s clearly visible no matter which kiosk a customer chooses to use. Either way, it makes little sense to keep impulse items stranded in an area that customers don’t frequent. By moving these products to a location with greater foot traffic, sales should track a lot more closely to the good old days, when shoppers could always count on finding impulse buys right next to the checkout line.