Understanding the two types of online shoppers

January 17, 2021
Rebecca Wine profile picture
Matt Whitby
  • Determined shoppers: Those that have an exact idea of what they want
  • Browsing shoppers: Those that don't. They just want to browse and explore
  • Today's webshops are focused only on determined shoppers
  • Don't neglect browsing shoppers. Inspire them and they'll be your biggest advocates

Inspiring online shoppers is a must.

It's inspiration tactics that are key to helping retailers stand out in today's competitive ecommerce market. Plus, they can lead to an increase in traffic and sales. But, before you know how to inspire, you need to know who you’re inspiring. You need to know your audience.

Now there are probably a million different definitions of what a buyer’s journey is. But to keep it simple, all variations can be placed into two different categories.

1. Customers that have an exact idea of what they want.

2. Customers that don’t and just want to browse and explore what’s on offer.

Most retail businesses focus their budget and resources catering to those that have shown clear buying intent.  But yep, you guessed it, you need to have your tactics ready to get the most out of both buyer types.

In a report by Google, 40% of online shoppers in the US use the internet for inspiration and to make initial online discoveries.

A graph showing in which parts of the buying process shoppers use the internet

So don’t leave those browsing shoppers hanging out to dry. You have no idea what potential sales you could be missing out on.


Let's talk tactics for attracting your audience.

Some of the usual suspects are:

- Search advertising
- Google Shopping
- Retargeting.

Whilst these are all effective when used correctly, they require a lot of focus and effort. But, specifically focusing on these tactics is a race to the bottom.

You’ll only harvest those shoppers on a specific buying mission, and you’ll end up purely competing on price.

Let’s say you’re a keen runner and you’re on the hunt for a new pair of running shoes. Your friends have recommended a certain pair, so you decide to do a bit of research. You Google Asics Roadhawk FF trainers.

The shopping results show a range of colors and prices. So how do you choose where to buy from? You’d probably choose a website that seems trustworthy and offers you the best price, free shipping and free returns, right?

Yes, if you’re after one specific product, you’re most likely to buy based on price.

So, if all your competitors have the same one-day delivery, free-shipping, free returns policy and best-in-class customer support as you do, why should they shop with you? Is simply offering the same benefits as your competitors really enough to convert them into paying customers?

And what about browsing shoppers?

Don’t neglect the discovery phase

Browsing shoppers may have found your web shop by pure chance. They don’t have a clue what they’re looking for, they just want to look.

"People see shopping as a hobby now," said Melissa Davis, executive vice president and general manager of ShopStyle.

They might be scrolling whilst watching TV and simply want to see what new products are out there. They might not even be shopping for themselves, they could be on the hunt for the perfect birthday present for a friend.

So, what do you do to make sure they end up buying from your brand? What do you do to make them choose you and not a competitor? What do you do to make them convert? Back in the day a smooth webshop experience with a great search and filtering option and chat support would have been more than enough. But what’s inspiring about having to search for your own ideas?

While webshops are built to be dynamic and easy to set up, the reality is that product listing pages, category views and endless filtering will only work for a small percentage of your webshop visitors. And, you only have 2-3 seconds to make a good first impression.

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