Commerce Tips

The 5 Types of Online Shoppers and How to Get Them to Buy


Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in February 2015 and was updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness on March 9th, 2018.

The one mistake you should never make is to assume that all your online shoppers can be encouraged to purchase with the same tactics.

No two shoppers are exactly the same and each has a particular way they like to shop. So, what does the shopper on your site look like? Well here are the 5 types of online shoppers you will encounter in the ecommerce world.

The 5 Types of Online Shoppers

There are hundreds of sub-types of online shoppers so we have collected the top five, highest level personas. Before we jump into who each persona is, it is important to address the top five motivating factors that customers are looking for.

  1. Looking for the best price
  2. Looking for the best product
  3. Looking for the latest/newest
  4. Looking to buy now
  5. Looking for an experience

These five things are the basic building blocks for the personas that we have built below.

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types of online shoppers steve

  • Focused on value per dollar
  • Searches multiple sites
  • Not as common as you may think

Price sensitive customers are looking for a good price but they are not necessarily looking for the lowest. They are looking for the most value per price paid. Customers that care exclusively about price are actually very rare.

“Price sensitivity” can be combated by moving a shoppers attention to other areas of the buying decision and removing the need to focus on price. Or, you can increase the value offered without decreasing the price.

Tactics to Encourage Price Sensitive Shoppers

Bundle Products: Price sensitive shoppers don’t always need the lowest price, they just want the best value they can find. Instead of trying to slash your prices, try bundling multiple products into a value pack. Take products that compliment each other and offer a discount for buying them at once.

Show Benefits: Sometimes you can move a price sensitive shopper away from looking at the price. Instead of focusing on all the features of a product, try showcasing all the benefits. By showcasing amazing features, you make the customer willing to pay more for what you are providing.

Best Product Patty

  • Researches extensively
  • Compares products across sites
  • Scared of making an uninformed decision

This type of online shopper will also shop around on different sites and stores, but not to find the best price. This shopper wants to ensure that they get the best quality and best suited item for their individual needs. The idea of buying the wrong or ill-equipped product is scary.

To make sure they find the best product possible these shoppers will undertake an extensive research mission. They will compare specs, comb through feature lists, and look for expert opinions.

Tactics to Encourage Best Product Shoppers

Provide Resources: These shoppers are looking to educate themselves on the product before they purchase. Help them acquire the knowledge they need by providing relevant resources on your site. These could be videos that explain a products features, a guide to get you started in X, or even a blog. If you want a great example checkout how Klova uses beautiful graphics, videos and step by step instructions to showcase their sleeping patch.

Comparisons: If you know your customers are comparing all their options before making a purchase, why not give them everything they are looking for? Show them the differences between your product and the competition in a convenient comparison guide. It will save them some time and keep them on your site, once they leave it is much more difficult to get them back.

I want the Latest Larry

  • Looks for the newest products
  • Updates frequently
  • Wants to be in the know

This type of online shopper is obsessed with having the newest everything. They will replace a perfectly good product with another simply because it is more up to date or trendier. This type of online shopper is common in fashion, beauty, technology, or any industry that is rapidly changing.

These shoppers want to stay informed. They need to know when the next must have product is scheduled to come out, they hate to be out of the loop. They look for ways to stay up to date and informed on their favorite industry or product. Think of that person you know who buys every iPhone the day it comes out.

Tactics to Encourage These Online Shoppers

Encourage Account Registration: This type of online shopper can be very profitable, if you can keep them informed. Be sure to incentivize them to create an account rather than checking out as a guest. You can do this by offering a percentage off their current order, a free gift, or by rewarding points. When a customer has an account with you it allows you to re-market to them later.

Targeted Email: Once a customer has registered for an account you can start to market through email. This type of shopper likes to stay informed but does not want to be “spammed”. Use a targeted email solution like dotmailer to send tailored and relevant content and products. If done right, sending marketing emails is a great way to improve your customer retention strategy. Just be careful you don’t over market and annoy them.

Buy Now Natalie

  • Looking to purchase quickly
  • Time Sensitive
  • Easily Lost

This type of online shopper knows what they are looking for and wants to buy it right now. They did a Google search, found your store, and are buying without comparing to others. Sounds like an amazing type of shopper to have, but they are easily lost.

These shoppers are all about convenience, if your checkout process has any snags or takes them too long they will leave and buy it somewhere else. This includes slow load times, too many steps at the checkout, and forms that don’t check immediately for errors. Remember that last time you filled out a form, only to have made one simple mistake and have to start again? That is exactly what makes these shoppers leave.

Tactics to Encourage Buy Now Shoppers

Simple Checkout: Online shoppers who are ready to buy only have one obstacle on your site, and that is the checkout. Be sure that they can easily buy the item they came to get. This includes reducing the amount of steps, showing the progress towards completion, and inline validation forms. These tactics also help to reduce general cart abandonment and better conversion rates.

Allow Guest Checkout: While you should encourage shoppers to create an account when checking out, you should also give them the option to checkout as a guest. 30% of customers will abandon a cart when they are not given the option to checkout as a guest, those customers are “buy now shoppers”.

Experiential Eric

  • Wants to be involved
  • Looking for an experience
  • Wants to feel like an exclusive member

This type of online shopper is all about the experience! They aren’t looking for items based on price or features, they are looking to buy from sites that provide a unique customer experience. They want to feel like they are a part of something and not just another customer.

These types of shoppers are common in industries where high value put on feeling exclusive and unique, such as fashion, beauty, and luxury goods. Shoppers like this want to join or achieve a status with a company. Some good examples of companies that cater to this type of customer are, Frank & Oak, Starbucks, and Sephora.

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Tactics to Encourage Experiential Shoppers

Subscriptions: A subscription service provides a unique way for this type of customer to buy, which they love. You don’t have to be a subscription based company like Frank & Oak to use subscriptions. Many traditional ecommerce sites are starting to use subscriptions as a unique offering. Many sites are allowing customers to subscribe to a random assortment of products each month for a set price. These randomized products are the exact experience these shoppers are looking for.

Loyalty Programs: Loyalty programs are another great way to create a unique experience. They allow your shoppers to become a member, and therefore a part of your brand/site. They also can create an element of exclusivity by creating a tiered program. With tiers your shoppers will strive to become part of an exclusive group of shoppers who get extra benefits. There are tons of examples of loyalty programs online. These are a great way to provide an experience to this type of shopper.


You Know Your Shoppers

No one knows your shoppers like you do, but I hope this gives you an idea of the types of online shoppers that could be on your site. Some shoppers are more common in particular industries, and some are trickier to deal with than others.

Once you have an idea of the type of shopper on your site you can begin to tailor your marketing efforts to encourage them to buy, and continue to buy in the future. A marketing strategy built around customer retention is one that’s built to last. 

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