Design Considerations for Different E-Commerce Shoppers

Although it’s easy to lump all e-commerce shoppers into one category, they’re not all the same. Each e-commerce shopper is unique, with specific needs, and requirements in their minds. Many shoppers don’t even know what they want yet, only making a decision once they see something they like on an e-commerce site. And then of course, are those users who frequent e-commerce sites simply to kill time.

According to web usability experts the Nielsen Norman Group (NN/g), there are actually 5 common types of e-commerce shoppers, and knowing the differences, motivations, and habits of these web users can help designers make informed decisions on how to build a useful and usable web experience, while addressing everyone’s needs.

Design Considerations for different e-commerce shoppers

NN/g identified the following shopper archetypes:

  • Product focused
  • Browsers
  • Researchers
  • Bargain hunters
  • One-time shoppers

1. Product Focused

As the name suggests, shoppers under this category are all about the product. They already know what they want, usually a replacement for an existing product of theirs. They’ve done their homework and have arrived to the conclusion of their desired purchase.

Since product-focused shoppers are looking to find the product on your site and buy it, the key to addressing their needs is speed.  Your goal is to get shoppers as quickly to the right product as possible, help them confirm it’s what they want, and whisk them off to checkout. And while the shopper may not necessarily be in any rush, they’re not exactly in a lingering mood either.

Considerations for product-focused shoppers are:

  • Accurate and clear labels and descriptions of products, as well as clear imagery
  • An effective search engine that quickly locates products and sections of interest
  • Previously search and/or purchased products for quick reorders
  • Smooth checkout system

2. Browsers

Browsers are the e-commerce equivalent of window shoppers. These users like to frequent their favourite sites to spot new trends, set goals on future purchases, and plan the next shopping spree. These users are frequent webroomers, looking at shopping websites first before visiting a store to see items up close.

While it may seem these users offer no value to you, it still pays to attract and keep people who actually went out of their way to spend time on your website, your brand. With these browsers visiting your site for ideas and entertainment, your goal should be to turn them into buyers.

The key is to appeal to what they want. Browsing shoppers are eyeing trends, new products, and deals. Browsers visit a site to see what’s new, so be sure to highlight this information.

Considerations for browser shoppers are:

  • Prominent listings of new, trending, and on sale products
  • Links to new inventory and recommended items
  • Facilities for sharing information about products

3. Researchers

Researchers’ goals revolve around collecting information about products and their corresponding prices. They’ve plans on making a purchase, but only they can tell when that purchase will happen. It might take a few visits, or several visits in several months’ time for this to happen.

The key to appealing to researchers is having a trustworthy site—one that provides detailed product information, solid customer support, and ease of navigation. Failing to do so means researchers will do their researching elsewhere, instead of with you, where they are just a few steps shy of making a purchase.

Considerations for researching shoppers include:

  • Clear and detailed product information
  • Facilities for product comparisons
  • Definitions of technical terminology and product features in layman’s terms.
  • Reviews from users

4. Bargain Hunters

These shoppers are all about the best deals. Their shopping habits revolve around getting the most out of their money, making a purchase only when they feel they’re getting a good deal.

The key to enticing these users is to connect them to your special offers. Highlight product prices and be sure to feature sale items right alongside regular-price items, indicating how much savings they’re getting.

With bargain hunters, the opportunity is in turning them not just into customers, but repeat customers. To do this, you can resort to sending coupons, offering discounts, and giving perks like free shipping for a minimum purchase or for repeat customers.

Considerations for bargain hunters include:

  • Sale items displayed prominently next to full-priced products
  • Separate section for discounted items
  • Facilities for coupon redemption and automatic discount application when requirements are met

5. One-Time Shoppers

One-time shoppers can have all the habits of other shopper archetypes. Often times, they are recipients of gift cards, buyers of gift cards, or people just looking for gifts. They can come with a specific goal, such as going through a list of items for their gift recipient. One thing’s for sure though, they’re only shopping due to a one-time need.

Because one-time shoppers are new to your site, they’re obviously not familiar with it, as well as the products you have on offer. So, the key to meeting their needs is clear site navigation for them to find their desired products as quickly as possible, and an effective search engine that draws up a list of search results relevant to their query. Don’t make them jump through any hops, like member registration—a common complain among shoppers in NN/g’s study.

Considerations for one-time shoppers include:

  • Easy site navigation
  • Detailed product information
  • Detailed and truthful company information
  • Easy product checkouts

At Enform, we believe that a solid e-commerce UX is crucial to attract all types of shoppers. Certain elements however, need to be implemented to help specific shoppers meet their goals, so designing a site with these user types in mind enhances the shopping experiences. Follow the guidelines above and you’re sure to have a usable site.