Impulse Buying – the old and the new!


The first time I was in business I ran a gallery specialising in Ceramics and Bonsai Trees. Guapa, as I so unaffectedly called it (! – well I was young, what can I say?), lasted nearly four years and I’m sure that the majority of my sales were largely impulse buys. Janice Tchalenko Peacock Platter

People passing the window, spying Janice Tchalenko’s magnificent peacock bowl, for example, would then come in to see what they could afford of a similar ilk but smaller.

What’s weird about being online only these days is that while what we sell today isn’t a million miles from what the gallery ultimately specialised in – design-led gifts for the more discerning, I would never describe purchasing gifts online as impulse buys in the same vein. It’s hard to attract the impulse buyer when you know that 9 times out of 10, people are visiting your virtual shop because they have specifically typed a searchword into google and found you. It’s all premeditated buying. There’s no Janice Tchalenko showpiece gracing some virtual window online which grabs people and makes them get that same urge to buy. Someone please correct me if I’m wrong.

Which isn’t to say that once there people don’t browse, they do, but it’s not as easy to encourage or define!

So last week when we launched our new newsletter, it was just fabulous to see how much traffic it did generate to the site. And the conversion to sales was extremely healthy. Of course it’s what we wanted and the results were wonderful but we’ve had a newsletter before…..just not as corporately consistent with our branding.


Design Force, with whom I work on different matters, did a wonderful job for us. I have to be transparent about our relationship, I’ve known them for years and it would be wrong to imply that there isn’t already a strong relationship there. So when they asked me if we had a newsletter and what we sent out, how much information we could derive from the analytics – well none, it’s a general email at the mo, we jumped at the chance to be one  of their first customers with their new Chirrupon service.

There is irrefutable evidence now to suggest that businesses are switching their marketing spend from traditional to digital methods and we can see why.

“It’s the way of the future” – my husband’s hackneyed phrase – is true!

I am, however, quite old fashioned at heart and while I absolutely love the online world, I thoroughly enjoyed my own  personal impulse buying moment yesterday. I noticed the Buy Art Fair news piece on How-Do and signed up for tickets and went along yesterday.

Last week was long and hard work, and I regretted not having had the time to go earlier, at a more leisurely pace, than ramming an hour into my Sunday afternoon to fly round with no choice but to impulse buy – browsing was not an option at this late stage.

It wasn’t what I’d expected at all. I’d not read the bumf in detail so I can’t complain. It was a wonderful hour. Galleries from all over the country were there selling different wares though it was a bit depressing the high number of people selling Peter Blake’s work. It’s not that his work is depressing it’s just that it seemed that the content of people’s stalls had not been pre-vetted….so there were seemingly endless amounts of his work – he could have had his own floor – real overkill.

I met a photographer called Richard Heeps. He stood out not least because his was I think the only photography on show but it was just my bag, man! It’s the kind of work I strive to achieve myself. It’s joyous and quirky, it’s bright and colourful and yet sometimes so much so that it becomes quite dark. I loved one of his pieces of a dashboard covered in different barbie dolls…..somehow jolly and macabre at the same time.

I bought two prints, the first of a fish and chip van (and so wished there’d been an ice-cream van in the same style) plus a rather sinister shot of a Texaco Marine sign overlooking a beautiful stretch of blue water out in California.

I also managed to purchase a piece of work by a guy called James Baker. Not my usual style of art at all, though part of me thinks it could look good alongside the limited download by the Chapman Brothers a couple of years ago on the South Bank Show……..another mix of colour and the darker side of art.

We’ll see. Just keep buying the art guys, it’s such a good feeling not having your artistic tastes dictated by Ikea’s framed poster section! The Buy Art Fair was a great chance for those normally intimidated by galleries to be comfortable and not feel suffocated by that stifling silence that so often permeates galleries. It was bustling and full of life.

P.S There were no real arses there either, which is always a bonus!


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