Marketing TechnologyEcommerce & SalesThe 5 types of shoppers: How to use these to grow your ecommerce business

The 5 types of shoppers: How to use these to grow your ecommerce business

Browser or bargain hunter, researcher or one-off buyer? Knowing how different people shop online lets you customize your online experience for each of them.

My first year out of college, I worked as a personal shopper at a high-end clothing boutique in a very wealthy part of Houston. My first couple of months on the job were terrible: I didn’t know much about sales other than to shyly say “Hi, how are you?” To which most customers–generally very busy middle-aged women–would respond “Just looking.” I was supposed to be acting as an assistant to these women by pouring them glasses of wine and offering them free custom tailoring on suits that cost about half my rent. The problem was, I couldn’t get them to talk to me.  

But as time went on, I realized that different customers needed different things. The shopper who went straight to the sale rack was looking for a completely different experience than the shopper who put a dress for a black tie event on hold while she checked out other options in a competing boutique next door.

And it’s no different in the ecommerce world. Different buyers are looking for different features in their online shopping experience, and knowing what your customer wants from your ecommerce site is the first step to delivering the right product to the right buyer at the right time.

Content produced in collaboration with Ve Global.

Here are the best ways to customize your online experience for each of the five shopping modes that exist in ecommerce today:

Browser

The same way you might walk into a favorite book store or hobby shop just to see what’s new, the browser is on your site looking for inspiration, or maybe even just killing time. They like to be in the know about the latest trends and are interested in the “next big thing.”

So it stands to reason that a browser’s biggest pet peeve is old or outdated information. They want to see something new every time they visit, whether it’s weekly or daily.

Targeting a browser is all about delighting them with new products and offers. However browsers are often hyper-aware of trends and new styles, which means product recommendations should be highly specific and tailored to their preferences. Browsers also like second opinions, so offering social sharing options for input from other tastemakers is a must.   

Researcher

Researchers come to your online store because they are doing their due diligence for the best prices, useful reviews, and the most features. Researchers often use their shopping carts as bookmarks, adding products they’re interested in so that they can quickly and easily come back later. They’re frustrated by lack of information about a product because they want to make sure they’re getting what they pay for without the time-consuming hassle of returning a wrong-fit product. When I was a personal shopper, this was the type of customer who would put items on hold, then come back to purchase after they’d seen what competitors had to offer.

To sell to a researcher, ready access to information is key. Make sure it’s easy to compare products by highlighting the products that most closely match their search criteria and consider implementing a dedicated comparison tool. Make sure it’s simple to edit carts, even at the checkout stage. And when researchers leave their carts to check out competitors, set yourself above the fray with personalized, highly targeted follow-up messaging.  

Product-focused

A product-focused customer would often stride confidently into the store I worked at and ask me if we’d gotten our summer collection of Cole Haans in stock because they’d been wearing the same style of loafer for 20 years and would like to be the first to see the new season’s colors. Online, the product-focused shopper doesn’t want to browse for hours; they want to have the product they know they love bought and in their possession as quickly as possible.

Selling to a product focused customer means helping them find their product efficiently, which often means improving your search with better naming conventions, tags and indexing, aligned to customer goals, rather than your marketing objectives. Minimizing their path to purchase is also important. Consider enabling users to bundle multiple items in order to add them to a cart in one click and recommending products they’ve ordered in the past in order to make them easier to find.

Bargain hunter

I admit, I fall into this category: I’m always on the hunt for a good deal and have zero brand loyalty if the price is right. Bargain hunters will lurk around websites searching for better deals, as well as subscribe to newsletters and join mailing lists in exchange for discounts.

However, as a personal shopper, I loved the customers who only came in for our 75% off sale. They always appreciated it when I pulled things from the sale rack and told them what a steal the item was for the price and would often buy a ton of sale merchandise because they simply couldn’t resist a good deal. For online bargain hunters, showing off deals straightaway is key, since they’re unlikely to buy anything full price. Recommending great values and offering additional promo codes are also likely to make sale shoppers take a second look.

One-time shopper

The one-time shopper may also fit into any of the above categories. That’s because they are often either using a gift card or shopping for a gift for someone else. For example, when I was working as a personal shopper, I’d often have husbands make appointments around the holidays because they knew their wives shopped there and had no clue what to buy them. Online one-time shoppers generally use guest checkout and usually are not looking to sign up for an account.

But just because a shopper has never visited your online store before doesn’t mean they’re never coming back. If the wives loved their gifts, those husbands were back for every major holiday because they knew I could be counted on to suggest something perfect. Focus on offering one-time shoppers the best experience possible by guiding them with product recommendations based on their search history and displaying contextually relevant messaging. And since the one-time shopper could be also fall into any of the other modes, optimizing for every type of shopper is your best bet for turning a one-off purchase into a lasting customer relationship.

For more information about improving your ecommerce experience for every type of customer, download Ve’s whitepaper, “How to target the 5 ecommerce shopping modes.”

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