The Different Types of Online Shoppers That Ecommerce Stores Can Target

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More than 80% of American consumers — 263 million people — shop online. Yet, no two online shoppers are alike. They are just as diverse as the brands they support and the products they purchase. Online shoppers want different products, at different prices and times, for various reasons.

Understanding the most common types of online shoppers by motivations and need, you can segment customers into high and low-value categories — casual, impulse buyers, bargain hunters, research-oriented, brand loyal, need-based, ready-to-purchase and trendy — to improve your marketing and sales strategy.

Read on to learn more about the eight different types of online shoppers and how to focus your time and money on efforts that have the most significant return on investment.

Casual Shoppers

The casual shopper is just there for the experience. For this group of customers, online shopping is more of a hobby than a need. They aren't looking for any specific product; they simply enjoy browsing and adding items to their cart and wishlist.

Characteristics of casual shoppers.

Sometimes referred to as the "wanderer," these customers compose a significant amount of store traffic. They are less likely to purchase, abandon their cart at checkout or return products. Casual shoppers spend a lot of time on your website but often make small purchases that produce little revenue. They don't feel loyal to any one brand or make frequent purchases.

How to better serve casual shoppers.

The casual shopper desires a straightforward buying experience. They want convenience and simplicity, and they want it now. Streamline your checkout process by removing additional steps to payment to deter cart abandonment.

A long process is a barrier for 87% of ecommerce shoppers. Allow shoppers to checkout as a guest using their email, Google or social media accounts, with the option of registering a user account later.

Improving website speed and product discovery, ensuring the site loads quickly on mobile and desktop and optimizing site search engines to provide a personalized experience may help convert this leisure shopper.

But beware: the casual shopper lacks urgency and loyalty, making them challenging to convert. Analyze your marketing and sales strategy to ensure it's worth the investment. You can change a casual shopper into a repeat shopper with a positive, personalized customer experience.

Impulse Buyers

The shopper that buys now and thinks later is your impulse shopper. These customers are emotional shoppers. Impulse buyers are less concerned with researching the best product. They purchase goods because they feel like it or a deal appeals to them.

Characteristics of impulse buyers.

Driven by popular trends and social norms, impulse shoppers change their minds at a drop of a dime. Emotions are fleeting, and if they have too much time to second-think their purchase during an extensive checkout process or find that shipping costs are too expensive, it may deter them from completing their order.

These volatile shoppers spend a lot of money and make decisions fast, which can be profitable.

How to better serve impulse buyers.

When targeting impulsive shoppers, lean into emotional triggers and communicate with customers regularly to keep their interest.

Use newsletter subscriptions and emails to retarget impulsive buyers and inform them of time-sensitive deals and promotions. Speedy checkout, fast shipping and payment options also appeal to impulsive shoppers.

Impulsive buyers will purchase products they hadn't planned to buy, making them the prime target for upselling, product recommendations and cross-promotions.

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Bargain Hunters

The top priority for bargain hunters or discount shoppers is to save money and get the best price. These shoppers are always searching for the lowest price and are willing to explore as many stores as possible to find a discount.

Characteristics of bargain hunters.

These shoppers add the lowest value to your online store. The bargain hunter isn’t loyal to any one brand. They opt for low prices from less reputable sites over quality products. Bargain shoppers often rely on browser extensions to compare products and alert them to discounts. They are willing to wait for price cuts or close-out sales to save even a few bucks.

How to better serve bargain hunters.

Product discounts and markdowns are an ideal way to target discount seekers. Stay informed of competitor prices and run occasional or seasonal promotional deals on your top-selling products.

Provide an ad-free user experience that builds trust and deters customers from abandoning their cart to chase a competitor's coupon or promo code.

While pricing out your competitors isn't a viable sales strategy, as it can cheapen your brand, once you capture the attention of bargain hunters, you can convert them to repeat customers by refocusing their attention on price to value.

Write detailed product descriptions and use social proof (customer reviews) to highlight the unique benefits and elevate your item as the best in the market. A customer rewards program that offers free shipping or discounts can also encourage bargain hunters to return for future purchases.

Research-Oriented Shoppers

Research-oriented shoppers want to make sure they're shopping smart. They take the time to learn as much as possible about a product from multiple brands to make the best purchase decision.

Characteristics of research-oriented shoppers.

From consumer feedback to product information and articles, they are willing to spend as much time as they need to avoid purchase mistakes or product returns. You'll often find research shoppers in markets with high price points like technology, cars and appliances. But you may find them in lower ticket categories like beauty products or apparel.

How to better serve research-oriented shoppers.

Equip research-oriented shoppers with as much information as possible to help them overcome anxieties about purchasing your product. Real-time customer engagement, such as live chats, help convert these cautious buyers. Include product FAQs, reviews and price comparisons on your website for an additional layer of transparency and engagement.

Brand-Loyal Shoppers

Loyal customers are your business's bread and butter. They value customer service, brand validation and personalized experiences that make them feel like VIPs.

Characteristics of brand-loyal shoppers.

It can take years to convert consumers into loyal shoppers. However, they are the key to longevity. They are the smallest group but contribute the most revenue. They desire exclusive experiences that are the most unique to the fashion, beauty and luxury goods industries.

Loyal shoppers act as brand ambassadors. They like sharing their positive customer experiences and influencing others to buy the products. But an unsatisfactory customer experience, untimely shipping or decreased product quality or availability is a turn-off.

How to better serve brand loyal shoppers.

Loyal shoppers want to feel appreciated and a part of the overall brand story. Implementing a customer loyalty program is ideal for customer retention. Tiered rewards and customer appreciation programs encourage repeat purchases such as special discounts, freebies, early access to new products and thank-you gifts like invitations to exclusive events and birthday offers.

Loyal shoppers also desire a customized user experience. They want personalized product recommendations and communication.

An Accenture survey found that 91% of shoppers want a brand that recognizes, remembers and provides relevant offers and product recommendations. Ecommerce sites that shifted to a personalized shopping experience saw a 10-15% increase in sales conversion rates. Such programs also incentivize other shoppers and first-time buyers to become loyal customers.

Need-Based Shoppers

Need-based shoppers are necessity driven. They desire a particular product that will solve a problem and improve well-being.

Characteristics of need-based shoppers.

These shoppers take their time researching and comparing products to consider every factor. Need-based buyers want to be confident in their purchase so they won't be the first to buy a product. Once they decide and are satisfied with the product and delivery, need-based shoppers connect with your brand. They're willing to spend more money on a trusted product and efficient processes.

How to better serve need-based shoppers.

Be patient. These customers aren't emotionally motivated and are more skeptical than other shoppers. Design a user journey that provides value and educates online buyers on products and services. Engage customers across channels through informative content.

Invest in product spec guides, professional visuals, webinars, articles and feature customer ratings to emphasize value and benefits. Ensure shoppers can contact your customer support team using a chatbox and contact details to get answers to questions and ease apprehension.

Ready-to-Purchase Shoppers

These shoppers are ready to make a purchase now. They're motivated by needs, trends or deals.

Characteristics of ready-to-purchase shoppers.

Ready-to-buy shoppers are all about saving time. They want to purchase and receive their product fast without hassle. Ready-to-buy shoppers don't require excessive customer nurturing; they will likely buy from the first store that meets their expectations.

How to better serve ready-to-purchase shoppers.

The only way to appeal to ready-to-buy shoppers is to remove any friction in the shopping process. Checkout should be quick and easy and offer multiple payment and shipping options. Be transparent about shipping times so shoppers know they can get their product when they need it.

Shipping delays can discourage 65% of customers from using a retailer. Communicate updates that inform shoppers of delays and reduce frustration.

Optimize your website on desktop and mobile for user-friendly navigation, including an informative homepage, efficient product searches, high-quality images, a safe and secure payment process and a compelling call-to-action.

Trend-Following Shoppers

Some shoppers want validation before purchasing a product, but trend-following shoppers want to be first to set the tone.

Characteristics of trend-following shoppers.

The trendy shopper is all about novelty. They seek authentic, renowned brands like Louis Vuitton and Tesla. They're willing to pay for access to exclusive products others can't afford. Trend-following shoppers care less about the price point and are more invested in the brand.

How to better serve trend-following shoppers.

Form a close relationship with manufacturers, so you are the first to have the latest products. Announce release dates in advance on your websites and through marketing channels and materials.

Launch online and print campaigns that inject scarcity and exclusivity, so shoppers are waiting and ready to purchase new items. If you're late to the party, trend-following shoppers will buy products from competing brands. Beef up the brand using visuals and narrative content to tell your story.

Catering to Multiple Customer Personas at the Same Time

While each type of online customer has different needs and motivations, some things appeal to all consumers. Today's customers want a quick, convenient, transparent and personalized shopping experience that saves them time.

Since 2020, consumers' online purchases have increased, but shopping time has decreased by 20%. Fast-loading websites, reliable shipping processes, user-intuitive website navigation and product searches, and mobile-friendly stores compatible with smartphones and tablets are incentives for all shoppers.

The Final Word

Customer categorization is an excellent technique for creating a personalized buyer journey that adds value for all types of buyers.

Knowing the types of shoppers that contribute the most to your bottom line can help you convert customers and retain them for future purchases.

With ecommerce tools such as BigCommerce's customer grouping, you can create defined customer segments and seamlessly integrate them into your workflow for optimized engagement across channels.

FAQs About Types of Online Shoppers

What customers generate the most profit?

Brand-loyal customers are likely to generate the most revenue even though they are likely your smallest group of shoppers. They have a higher lifetime value, influence other shoppers to make purchases and are less likely to switch brands impulsively.

What type of customers is the best overall?

The type of customer that is best overall depends on your business model. For instance, bargain shoppers are the best customer for a discount brand. However, a trend-following shopper may be better for a high-end technology business like Apple.

How to differentiate between the types of online shoppers?

Track customer data and behavior to identify segments. Categorize online shoppers based on purchase activity and customer traits.


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