How Online Shoppers Behave in your store

Knowing users' purchasing habits can help us design products that support different users' needs.

Design Brief - What is it?

Some visitors come to your site with their homework well done and have a product in mind, whereas others are still trying to figure out what to purchase. Still others are just killing time. Knowing what motivates people, and what their purchasing habits are when they go to a store can help designers and developers design and build a website that is both usable and supports different users' needs.

According to research done by the Nielsen Norman Group, there five main types of eCommerce shoppers: product-focused, browsers, researchers, bargain-hunters, and one-time shoppers. As we'll see, different shoppers rely on different elements of the website to make their decisions. When designing an eCommerce site designers canmust have them in mind, or build personas. Let's see how each type of shopper behaves and how designers can make it easy for them.

1. Product Focused

These shoppers know what they're looking for and hey're not looking for suggestions as to what to buy. They are goal-oriented: They know what they want and they want the site to give it to them, fast. In some cases, it could be that they want to replace something they had.

Product focused are not interested in browsing your website. Sometimes they don't even read the product descriptions at all, they just want to locate the item, confirm it's the right one, and buy it.  How can you design for product-focused shoppers?

  • Give each product a clear identification through descriptive names and clear images;
  • Make sure you include a search functionality to quickly locate and pick items of interest;
  • Since they may want to replace something, give them easy access to previously purchased items for simple reorder could help them a lot;
  • A hustle free checkout process to get in and out seamlessly.

2. Browsers

Contrary to the product-focused, browsers don't have a specific product in mind. They simply go to their favorite sites or new ones to get some inspiration or just to kill time. They want to stay up-to-date with the latest trends, plan future purchases, prepare for the next shopping trips, or look online before they visit a physical store in person. As crazy as it may sound, having these shoppers browsing your site is good. Why? Since they choose to spend time with your brand, if you consistently give them a good experience, when they're ready to buy, they're more likely to think of your site or store.

Browsers want to see what's new, what's popular, what's on sale and they want to see what changed. Related items and suggested products help them navigate the site. Top-selling products, popular products, and top-ranked products can all attract browsing shoppers. How can you design for Browsers?

  • Include lists of new, popular and sale products;
  • Show related and recommended products to help users easily access new inventory;
  • Give them the ability to share information about products they like.

3. Researchers

These are planing a purchase that can happen today or in six months and, like product-focused, they're goal-driven. They are collecting information: Learning about new product types or may know well the products they're looking for, search for the right price or the right combination of features. They can make several in-depth visits or just a quick decision between options during their researches. Bear in mind that you're not the only site they'll visit in their research. If your site makes their research easy and shows signs of trustworthiness, you can increase the chance of converting these shoppers into buyers.

Researchers also want to be able to flag items of interest as a way of narrowing options and compare later. So they appreciate sites that make it easy to return to product descriptions and remove items from the cart. How can you design for researchers shoppers?

  • Clear navigation, clear and detailed product descriptions and excellent support;
  • Definitions of unfamiliar terminology of product features;
  • User reviews to help them know whats others think;
  • Easy comparison between products through consistent information about products;
  • Easy-to-edit shopping carts that retain products between visits or a "save to favorites" feature.

4. Bargain Hunters

Bargain hunters are looking for the best deal possible. Any of the shoppers previously described can be a bargain hunter, after all, who doesn't want a good deal? They shop around, searching multiple sites trying to find the best price and the price will always be the main decision factor. They build no relationship with any of them and are loyal to none.

Want to help Bargain hunters? Make it easy to locate deals by clearly list prices. Place sale items  alongside full-price with savings highlighted. Make sure the discounts are easy to use as well. Sending them coupons, discounts, and  free shipping (in certain cases) can help retain them. How can you design for bargain hunters?

  • Provide a clear section for discounted items and display items on sale alongside full-priced ones;
  • Listing product prices and associated discounts and savings;
  • Allowing easy coupon redemption or apply discounts automatically when certain criteria is met.

5. One-time Shoppers

These can be any of the shoppers we've discussed already. According to the research cited earlier by NN Group, they could be gift-card recipients, gift-card buyers, or gift buyers. They have no intentions to visit the site after the initial purchase, so force them create an account would certailnly frustrate one-timers. Well, forcing registration is complained about by most shoppers, but one-timers are the ones who are more likely to complain the most, for obvious reasons. They appreciate sites that allow them to make purchases without requiring them to create an account. How can you design for one-time shoppers?

  • Clear site navigation;
  • Complete product descriptions;
  • Clear and trustworthy company information;
  • Checkout as a guest.

 Final Thoughts

A good e-commerce user experience is crucial for every shoppers. But, as we've seen, different elements take on significance based on the shopper's goal. Designing with user types in mind improves the overall shopping experience. Product focused are goal oriented. The know what they are looking for, whereas browsers are simply browsing your site. Researchers are educated guessers. They want to know as much as they can before buying, while bargain hunters are only interested in the best deals. No commitment; no loyalty. Finally, one-timers are occasional buyers. Maybe they received a gift-card from someone. Which one are the most difficult to design for? Why don't you let me know down in the comments?

Délcio Pechiço

Product Designer | Webflow Enthusiast | IT Support Technician | Background in Mining, Oil & Gas

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