5 Ways to Increase Retail Sales Using Shopping Baskets

4 min read
Aug 14, 2012

We all know that humans have two hands, and when it comes to shopping this can present a bit of a problem. If a customer in your store tries to buy more than 3 or so non-hangered, mid-sized items then they are already struggling. And once that person has run out of hands and elbow crooks to hold their products, they will stop browsing and head for the checkout.

The bad news for retail managers is that less than 10% of customers pick up the basket they need to end the juggling act - meaning potential sales are lost just because of our human anatomy. The good news is that our top 5 tips can help you recoup these missed opportunities and increase retail sales using shopping baskets:


  1. Put baskets where customers can see them

Crucially, don't put them in the Transition Zone - otherwise known the store entrance - this is not the best place to place your shopping baskets.

Customers won't really "see" them in this area of the establishment as they are still acclimatising to the new surroundings they've just walked into - and hence are likely to breeze by without stopping. Place the baskets a little further inside and get that measly 10% figure up, whilst increasing sales in your retail store.

  1. Place shopping baskets throughout the store

There is a reason people end up juggling a few items in their hands. It's because they didn't expect to be buying more than what they came in for. Your customers may enter your retail store with one purchase in mind but subsequently be lured into buying more things, either out of impulse or because they suddenly remember they need an extra this or that. You want to accommodate these rapid changes in plan by dotting baskets around where they are most needed.

Remember also to keep your stacks of baskets high enough so as not to inconvenience your customers - nobody likes stooping when they have their hands full. 

Just this morning I had taken a basket for a couple of items, got carried away by a few multi-buy deals and before I knew it the basket was unbearably heavy.  In my haste to heave my over-stuffed basket to the checkout, I forgot to buy my bread. I really could have used a shopping trolley or second basket to be proffered to me back there; which brings us nicely on to my third bit of advice...

  1. Have your employees offer baskets to customers carrying more than 3 items

The likely response is a smile from your customer (people like being helped) and a grateful acceptance of the shopping basket. After all, holding a basket is preferable to being hampered with no hands left to touch and read other items in the store. When this technique was trialled in a discount drugstore, customers almost unanimously accepted the baskets and the average sale value increased too.

  1. Put the basket itself to the test

Think about how baskets feel for the user. Are you a grocery store or supermarket manager still using traditional metal mesh baskets? Do they bash against your thigh uncomfortably when they get too heavy? Or perhaps the two straight handles that come to meet in the middle cut into the palm of your hand? How would your customer go about putting in a slim, small item in like chewing gum without it falling through the gaps?

In this case think about switching to plastic baskets with only one large handle, they are lighter, and some even come with wheels. You could even copy the clothes retailers and go for a hard bottomed, canvas bag so customers can bear the weight on their shoulder rather than fingers and wrists. The plus side for you is that textile baskets don't take up as much storage space. Make carrying items a little easier for your customers. As we've already pointed out - the more basket usage, the more sales.

Remember, size matters for your particular type of retail: for example, furniture retailer Pfaltzgraff found increasing basket size by 40% also increased average sales per customer.

  1. Sell your baskets

Well it's one way to get rid of your old stock of baskets, should you have decided to change them since the test on tip number 4! But some retailers like Old Navy have taken it a step further. The attractive black mesh tote bags they offer as baskets are in fact buyable at the checkout should the customer wish, counting as a last minute sale. Plus, it gets your brand a little free advertising as the bag gets used outside of the store.

Bags for life are all the rage nowadays, with most shoppers buying them at the counter then using them again and again when it comes to packing. The only niggle, I realized today, is that I had to carry my bag for life in addition to the basket. My advice: when you sell a reusable bag, make sure your cashiers point out that these bags can be used in place of shopping baskets - to keep your customers hands free to pick up even more items.

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Irisys have years of experience helping retailers and supermarkets to improve customer service, customer satisfaction and ultimately increasing sales. As the world's leading supplier of supermarket queue management systems we have worked with grocers around the world to optimise their operations - check out our queue management success stories to see some of the results we have delivered for them. 


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