If you take a look around a brick-and-mortar store, it’s pretty easy to identify the different types of shoppers around you. There are the loyalists, as familiar to the salespeople at their favorite boutique as caffeine addicts are to their local café baristas; the impulse shoppers, who are lured into stores by a killer sale or a lovely window display and end up purchasing on a whim; and those on a mission, who march determined into a store with their game-face on and a singular purchase already plotted out and mapped.
You probably know which kind of shopper you are in the real-world consumer sphere. You’re likely aware that salespeople, trained in the fine art of pushing merchandise toward those apt to purchase it, know how to spot and identify each type of shopper and cater their sales pitches accordingly. And, since you know what type of real-world shopper you are, you adjust your shopping habits, and responses to salespeople, accordingly. It’s all familiar territory.
In the online shopping world, however, the anonymity of the keyboard makes everything murky. This doesn’t mean there aren’t distinct types of online shoppers. There are. And in my research as a Web psychologist at Clicktale, I’ve spent countless hours analyzing online user behavior and decision making processes to help me better categorize them.
So, what type of online shopper are you? Read on to find out.
1. The wish lister
Do you suffer from FOMO? Are you female, a frequent visitor to online stores, and an avid, almost obsessive Pinterest pinner? If so, you fit very snugly into the criteria for our first type of online shopper: The Wish Lister.
The Wish Lister is always daydreaming about purchases out of her financial reach, be they the newest pair of designer boots, a custom leather sofa or a sweet pair of noise-canceling earbuds. She feeds her fantasies by scouring online blogs and stocking her shopping carts at online sites with highly-desired items. Yet she also usually abandons her purchases before making it to the checkout.
2. The brand-oriented visitor
Do you love Louis Vuitton? Go gaga for Gucci, or simply die over DKNY? If so, there’s a good chance that when you shop online, your behavior and browsing style would categorize you as a Brand-Oriented Visitor.
For you, online shopping is all about the visuals – how the product you’re scoping out looks, what its newest features are, and what sorts of colors, materials and designs set it apart from the other items you have from the same designer or company.
While no one would accuse you of not being a smart shopper, for you, the online experience is less about function than it is about fashion. You aren’t motivated by need or price checks. You shop because you love your brand, and even more, you love how it looks on you.
3. The rational visitor
Meet the Brand-Oriented Visitor’s polar opposite: The Rational Visitor.
Are you practical? Known to penny-pinch? Do you make a carefully constructed pro-con list in your head when weighing major purchases, and do you tend to take your time when shopping to think things over - making absolutely sure that the item you’re eyeing is right for you?
If so, you are probably a Rational Visitor. For you, shopping online is particularly useful, because you can engage in all of your favorite activities – price comparing, cost-benefit analysis and shopping around - all with just a few clicks of your mouse.
You’re the sort of shopper who complements your actual shopping with online research, being sure you know all there is to know about the latest products and what’s available on the market before you pull the trigger and ultimately buy.
4. The maximizer
Remember the Wish Lister from item #1? Well, the yin to her yang is The Maximizer: the shopper who reads every product review, memorizes every product stat by heart, and intimately knows the ins, outs and upside-downs of an item before deciding to purchase.
The Maximizer is also a close cousin of the Rational Visitor, but slightly more obsessive. While the Rational Visitor is concerned about making the best shopping choice, the Maximizer is relatively obsessed with the idea. It’s not FOMO that haunts the Maximizer at night, it’s FOBP -- Fear of a Bad Purchase.
If you are known to spend so much time researching a product that you end up giving yourself anxiety, and the overload of information makes you more stressed, rather than less, chances are good that you have Maximizer tendencies.
5. The satisfier
Are you easily pleased? Incredibly not picky? If you go shopping for a wallet or boots, will any old leather money pouch or pair of shoes do?
If so, you’re probably a Satisfier. When you shop online, variety and choice don’t matter much to you. You like to keep things simple, and you never get caught up in brand names, color choices or comparing options across multiple sites. For you, the shopping experience is easy and uncomplicated. Most of all, it’s quick. You click, browse and buy. As long as the item you purchase meets the bare-bones criteria of what you were looking for, you’re likely to be pleased.
6. The hesitater
Ah, the Hesitater. You’re similar to the Wish Lister – you both dwell in the land of abandoned shopping carts, your fingers hovering over the “purchase” buttons without the ability to click “buy” – but your qualities are different. While the Wish-Lister stockpiles potential purchases based on desire and daydreams, the Hesitater shops out of necessity. If you’re a Hesitater shopping online for winter gear, you most likely do need a new hat and pair of gloves. But rather than move confidently from browsing to buying, the Hesitater will reach his final destination – the purchase page of a website -- and suddenly freeze.
In the brick and mortar world, the Hesitater is the kind of shopper who can be seen hovering near the checkout lane and wondering if he should finally step up to the counter and pull out his wallet. Online, he can be found staring at his screen with his mouse creeping close to the purchase button, but without some sort of encouragement, be it a promotional code to save money or a real-world word of encouragement from a friend or partner, he might not be able to go through with the purchase.
Why do I care?
Just like in the bricks-and-mortar shopping world, being aware of your online shopping style makes you a happier, more efficient shopper. A clear understanding how you operate online allows you to work with your style -- and, even more importantly, work against it when need be.
For example, if you’re a Satisfier, try deciding for a specific item that good enough is not good enough, and that you’ll take your time and research your purchase thoroughly. Are you a Maximizer? What if you decide to consciously identify small purchases as trivial, and skip the research for those types of products -- saving time and just getting it done. A Hesitater? How about consciously deciding that you want a given item, and setting a time limit for yourself on completing the purchase?
“Know thyself,” goes the Greek maxim. In commerce -- and today in e-commerce -- the Greeks were spot on. Knowing your style lets you work with it, and when need be, consciously act to override it.