Businesses lose more than $75 billion yearly* to poor customer service.
*according to NewVoiceMedia
If this number scares you, rest assured that there are preventive measures you can’t take so your online store doesn’t become just another number in a grim statistic.
The obvious answer is increasing customer happiness – prioritizing customer service over products and prices, creating persuasive loyalty programs, and trying to deliver outstanding customer experiences.
However, as much as you try, you can’t create the same customer journey for each one of your customers. And you shouldn’t even try.
Since not every customer is created equal, you must understand the different shopper types that become your customer base over time.
Not every purchase will turn into a long-term relationship, and that’s ok.
Let’s take a look at the five types of online shoppers existing in the eCommerce industry – and how to treat each class to get the most value possible without using your limited time, money, and human resources.
Why should you care about the difference?
A couple of years ago, when eCommerce became more popular, the end goal was to get as many new online customers as possible.
The competition wasn’t so intense, and consumers weren’t that educated. Average efforts would bring average results, and customer acquisition was more straightforward.
Today that’s not the case anymore.
Online payments, advertising, open trade for most countries, and globalization turned the world into a playing field for eCommerce pioneers.
Economic forces such as inflation, interest rates, and employment similarly influence the demand for goods and services.
On top of all – online buyers are more mindful than ever before.
Consumers pay close attention to what they spend their money on, what type of experience they get, and how much value they can earn from different brands.
So naturally, your end goal isn’t blind acquisition anymore but mindful acquisition.
You must narrow your focus, choose your target audience, and understand that not every customer is created equal.
You can’t bend over backwards trying to please the bargain hunters while neglecting your regular customers.
Your resources are scarce, and you have to spend them wisely, not scatter them across every type of online customer.
Otherwise, you might burn out – both personally and professionally.
However, suppose you understand the different types of shoppers that browse your store and buy from you. In that case, you can redirect your attention and energy toward customers with the most significant potential.
The Soulmates, as we call them in our RFM models.
5 Types of Online Shoppers
Also known as bargain hunters, these shoppers bring the lowest value to your store. Unfortunately, they are also the majority of online shoppers, making up to 67% of consumers.
These shoppers are looking at the price rather than quality or customer service.
It’s not easy to convert or compete for this segment. Unless you offer the lowest prices on the market, regular discounts, or extra perks, these shoppers will move to your competition without thinking twice.
Moreover, around 20% of bargain hunters have dedicated extensions installed on their browsers, comparing your products in real-time with the same products from other providers.
Simply put – for this particular type of shopper, the price point weighs most in the buying decisions.
If discount seekers bring the most negligible value, wandering customers are right behind them.
Wandering shoppers bring the most traffic to your website, but they aren’t bringing the same value.
They are primarily interested in the shopping experience:
- Checking out the latest terms
- Adding products to their wishlist
- Comparing prices and offers
There is neither urgency nor a specific need to trigger here, so converting them will be rather tricky.
For them, online shopping is a leisure activity. It might even be a hobby. So it’s hard to catch them with traditional scarcity techniques.
Much like wandering shoppers, impulse buyers don’t become your customers out of an urgent need.
They are also the most volatile.
You never know if an impulse buyer will become a loyal customer and make repeat purchases because he changes his mind according to the latest trends or social norms.
Yet, they aren’t as common as the ones in previous categories.
The primary industries that need to worry about impulse buyers are fast-paced, ever-changing industries. Think fashion, tech, beauty.
Because they always search for the latest product, impulse buyers don’t mind switching from one brand to another.
You can see a distinct need in this category – the need to amaze their peers, brag about their latest purchases, and obtain social status through consumerism.
It’s not all doom and gloom, though.
If until this moment you only read about low-value customers, we’re now getting to the power segments.
Need-based customers aren’t quick to make buying decisions but are quick to form strong connections with a brand.
This type of customer will research your products, competition, and offers before purchasing because they need to know they’re making the best decisions.
They aren’t triggered by the idea of owning the latest gadget or the thrill of getting an excellent deal on a product. Need-based shoppers only buy when they’re confident the product delivers on its promise.
Think real estate: if you want to buy a home, you’re not buying the first apartment you’ll visit, right?
The principle applies even if you’re selling cyclical products.
Need-based customers reach your website hoping to find a solution to their problem because they crave the outcome of using your products or want a better, more accessible, more prosperous life.
Do we even have to say it?
Loyal customers fuel the engine of your brand’s overall success and longevity.
Loyal customers are also the solution to the leaky bucket phenomenon. If you also consider there’s a limited number of potential customers on the market, loyal customers are, in fact, your bread and butter as an eComm professional.
How to convert each type – Dos and Don’ts
As we discussed, discount seekers are primarily focused on the money they save with each purchase.
Their mindset is transactional, so they won’t get involved with your brand or care too much about the customer experience.
So you shouldn’t worry too much about developing a great brand story to establish a solid relationship.
If competitors are offering better deals, this segment will take those deals.
The obvious way of converting them is by creating discounts for this segment alone.
Try rolling out a Social Media campaign with the best-sellers from this category and offer a special one-time discount.
However, this isn’t a sustainable marketing strategy in the long term since you can’t lower your prices forever, and you need to take care of your margin.
If you want to encourage this segment to make repeated purchases, redirect their attention: from the price point to the value they’re getting for their money.
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When writing the product descriptions, emphasize the benefits of your products instead of solely focusing on the features.
This way, you place the product into a different league. Even if your competition offers the same effect, its perceived value balances in your favor.
As we said, wandering customers are there for the shopping experience.
Even if they aren’t looking for a particular product, they enjoy browsing and imagining their lives once they make the purchase.
The safest bet with them is to give them space. Don’t be too pushy with scarcity pop-ups, don’t overwhelm them with upselling or cross-selling additional products.
Instead, ensure their experience is straightforward and that the checkout process isn’t too complicated.
Make sure your pages are quick to load, there aren’t too many steps in placing an order, and that nothing distracts them.
However, you don’t need to invest too many resources into converting wandering customers. Since they’re just there for the experience, these customers will unlikely commit to purchasing something.
Of course, you can run experiments and provide personalized experiences – but don’t count on wandering customers to increase your revenue anytime soon.
The tricky part with impulse buying is that you always need to have the latest and hottest products in stock.
So, ask yourself honestly: are you able to keep up with ever-changing trends and provide various products as soon as they’re launched?
If so, we can move on to the type of experience impulsive shoppers desire: frictionless.
Impulsive shoppers don’t have patience and want to buy immediately.
Usually, they don’t research or compare prices. They Google, they click, they buy.
Offer an efficient, personalized experience.
Make your best deals visible through design, and offer various shipping or payment options.
Their biggest worry is you’re unable to deliver your order when they need it. Soothe them with copy diminishers, and let them know how many products you have in stock and how many days the shipment lasts.
Pro tip with impulse shoppers: they can be very profitable for your brand since they buy frequently.
So, after placing an order, ensure they fall into a nurturing email flow and that you keep them informed about the latest additions to your product assortment.
Moreover, if your marketing strategies include upselling or cross-selling, this segment is the most likely to respond to these strategies.
Test different email flows that push complementary products or products that usually pair together.
Unlike impulse buyers, need-based shoppers will research the products before buying.
Since they aren’t in any hurry, they can be very patient and spend time comparing and contrasting different options before making a decision.
Need-based shoppers want to know more about the product before buying it.
Even if it means spending more money, they don’t truly look at the price point as long as they’re absolutely sure the product will deliver on the promise.
To personalize their experience and increase the conversion chances, you should take the time and energy to provide free value even before buying.
It doesn’t mean you need to offer free products or testers – although these also help if you can afford them.
However, you might want to invest in creating buyer guides, offering comprehensive product information across categories, and offering plenty of product reviews to build trust.
Need-based customers are informed, patient, and wary of sales-y marketing techniques.
You must study this segment and provide personalized experiences for need-based shoppers as they research your product.
Woo them before trying to sell. Meet them halfway with information, articles, webinars, or whatever it takes to help them acquire the knowledge they need before buying.
Help them get started with your products and to feel confident in your expertise.
Since customer loyalty is the game’s name in eCommerce, this segment should be where you spend most of your time and energy.
With them, it’s not so much about converting as it is about retaining.
They are already loyal and involved with your brand. However, 86% of consumers will leave a brand after a bad experience.
Even though most eCommerce companies are obsessed with acquiring new customers, the healthiest companies rely on their retained customers to grow in the future.
So it goes without saying that loyal customers deserve a VIP experience.
Which is precisely what you should provide for this segment.
Besides prioritizing them all across your customer support department, you can also think of other perks for loyal customers.
One example might be providing early access to new products, offers, or events.
Another idea is delighting them with unexpected gifts on special occasions: a birthday, the anniversary of the day they became a customer, etc.
While high traffic and high engagement might prove you’re doing an excellent job in terms of awareness, it’s essential to understand that not every shop visitor or social media fan will contribute to your margin.
Customers aren’t created equal, so you shouldn’t treat them all the same. Different types of customers require extra attention, experiences, and energy from you.
One Ideal Customer generates as much margin as 376 low-value customers, so it’s only natural you’ll want to narrow your focus and spend more resources on loyal, high-value customers.
Your growth path is paved with conscious actions, personalized experiences, and knowing how to pick your battles.
Once you understand the types of online buyers and move away from trying to get them all into your customer base, you’re on your steady road to achieving your performance goals.
Frequently Asked Questions about Online Shoppers
According to their needs and behaviors, online shoppers fall into 5 categories: bargain-seekers, wandering customers, impulse buyers, need-based shoppers, and loyal customers.
Bargain-seekers – who mostly seek discounts; wandering customers – who enjoy the shopping experience; impulse buyers – who need the latest products; need-based shoppers – who research thoroughly before making a purchase; loyal customers – who are more about retaining than converting.
If you look at their needs, you can identify 3 types of shoppers. Fast shoppers – they want to complete the purchase as quickly as possible. Value shoppers – looking for the best price for any products. Inspiration shoppers – they want to discover new products.
If you think traffic, bargain hunters and wandering shoppers bring the most traffic to your website. If you consider value, need-based shoppers and loyal customers will bring the most value to your business.