Hershey Wants To Make Impulse Candy Purchases Part Of Self-Checkout

Technology is changing how we buy groceries: self-checkout, curbside pickup, and delivery are all models that aim to make shopping more convenient and efficient. Walmart is even experimenting with a store that does nothing but curbside pickup for online orders. Yet when customers aren’t waiting in a checkout line, they don’t pick up impulse items. If that seems like a good thing to you, well, you aren’t a candy company.

Hershey shared this information a few weeks ago at the National Retail Federation’s enormous conference in New York City. In a breakfast session, a Hershey executive outlined ways that the industry is working hard to get “lost” impulse sales back. We had never even thought about this as a problem until RetailWire shared some ideas that a Hershey executive presented.

The key according to Chris Witham, Hershey’s senior manager for front end experience is shoppers’ “dwell time.” We might call that “wasted time,” but to retailers, that’s time that you could spend looking at impulse items at the checkout.

“It’s very important to understand what shoppers are doing with that dwell time,” he told the attendees at this executive briefing. “As they get to pay points, how much is a good amount of dwell time [going] to encourage impulse purchase, but not have a detrimental effect on the shopping trip as a whole?” What is the optimal amount of time to have people standing around staring at merchandise so that they pick up things and buy them, while not ruining their shopping experience?

One that Witham presented was presenting customers with opportunities for impulse purchases where they already are. Kiosks where customers type in their order information before pickup could dispense impulse items, adding a candy bar or pack of gum to the order that you already assembled online. If they’re pumping gas, why not put a candy machine next to the pump?

When customers choose self-checkout in the store, why not tempt those customers with impulse purchases, too? Hershey is working with a retail technology company to develop a machine that can automatically dispense items (we’re guessing candy) to shoppers using a self-checkout machine.

Hershey looks out of the box for impulse sales [RetailWire]