The act of "window shopping" has moved from an afternoon at the mall to an afternoon of web browsing from home, or mobile web browsing on the go. It's not surprising.
Online shopping in Canada is rising in popularity for a number of reasons -- as more retailers realize the market value of an online presence, we're seeing more and more products available for purchase online.
Retailers are also recognizing the value of exclusive offers and online deals to drive sales. And let's not forget how accessible the "World Wide Web" is to the average consumer. Whether you access the internet from work or home, on your mobile device or via free WiFi at one of ten coffee shops down the road -- any road -- Internet accessibility has created an era of constant browsing, which is a behavior that is changing the landscape of "the consumer."
As someone who works in the business of eCommerce, I have noticed some interesting online shopping trends that put the buying habits of the online consumer front and centre. More specifically, the online shopper often falls into different profile categories, a handful of which I'll outline below.
(1) The Avid Shopper
Online shopping has created an accessibility that wasn't available previously, having access to millions of products ready for purchase at your fingertips. This has created a shopper who is online everyday bidding and buying from their favorite retailers and online stores.
These early-adopters have been shopping online for years and know all the trade secrets. They know which sites have the best shipping rates, the best customer service, the best deals and the best return policies. In fact, most of their shopping is done online. Their friends call them a "shopaholic" but really, they're just savvy shoppers who are ahead of the trend when it comes to online or mobile shopping, which I believe is the direction of all future commerce.
(2) The Emotional Shopper
We all know the phrase 'retail therapy.' An emotional shopper is someone who splurges to fill a need -- they buy because they're upset, stressed out or just plain bored. Whatever the reason, the instant gratification of hitting the checkout button and the rush of excitement that comes with receiving a purchase is usually enough reason to do it again.
(3) The Impulse Buyer
Online sales and exclusive offers feed the impulse shopper, and there's certainly no shortage of that when you window shop online for your next spend. This shopper gets trigger-happy when they browse a sale and see "1 item left in stock" -- the sense of urgency drives the purchase and regardless of whether it's a need or a want, this person can justify it. Retailers have caught on to the impulse buying trend and now have a number of sales tactics used to appeal to this buyer including: A smart sidebar that features "other items you may be interested in" based on what the customer has previously browsed or purchased. This tactic is similar to the point of sale displays in-stores that showcase a bunch of smaller, affordable items next to the cash register. If there's a way for the retailer to maximize on an impulse purchase, they will.
(4) The Deal Hunter
Deal hunters are a special type of shopper because finding the deal drives their compulsion. They are always in the know about a sale and are probably subscribed to every online newsletter that exists. Deal hunters are strategic, patient and a little bit adventurous because they know that everything eventually goes on sale and they're willing wait even if it means possibly losing out.
(5) The Casual Shopper
Relating to my last post, there are many casual shoppers who are still on the fence about buying online. Many have made an occasional purchase online, but not before weighing the risks, doing their research and educating themselves before hitting the checkout button. They are the opposite of an impulse buyer. A casual shopper is usually a smart shopper, always having money saved for a rainy day.
With the evolution of eCommerce comes the evolution of the online buyer, so what can we learn from this? Great eCommerce is agile eCommerce. As more dollars continue to go into online spending, it's important to pay attention to the buying habits of the online consumer.
The list above is not exclusive to one type of shopper. In fact, many people can possess multiple shopping traits so let me ask you this: what type of online shopper are you?