Understand Shopper Personalities and Increase Sales

by Stephanie Taylor Christensen on June 24, 2011

Customer traffic (whether virtual or in the flesh) is critical to any retail business. By the same token, customers who leave your site or shop before they whip out their wallet contribute as little to growth as having no customers at all.

You can experiment with promotions, and draw some conclusions about what might keep them coming back. Or you can get scientific: SteelHouse, a California-based start up specializing in the emerging field of behavioral commerce, recently came out with a helpful guide for small businesses marketers with its “Top Ten Shopper Personalities List.”

The idea is that with real insight into what makes your customer tick, you can transform browsers into buyers, increase conversion rates and sales, and ultimately obtain that Holy Grail: the customer for life.

“A short term revenue growth strategy (and familiar fallback) for SMBs is to try something and see if it sticks,” says SteelHouse CEO Mark Douglas. “The more sustainable solution is to find out who your ideal customer is, find out what motivates them, then give them what they want, where and when they need it.”

All online shoppers fit into one or more of these ten categories:

1)     Distracted Shopper – I often begin the checkout process, but don’t purchase.
2)     Premium Shopper – I only buy premium name brands.
3)     Determined Shopper – I am always on the lookout for an offer.
4)     Active Shopper – I am always browsing, but incentives close the sale.
5)     Free Shipping Hunter – I only buy if the offer includes free shipping.
6)     Thrifty Shopper – I like to buy used or refurbished items.
7)     Loyal Shopper – I only purchase if I can join a rewards program.
8)     Methodical Shopper – I browse for an exact product using site navigation.
9)     Impatient Shopper –If I don’t find the item immediately, I look elsewhere.
10)   Wish List Shopper –I add everything I am interested in to the shopping cart to see what the total price might be — but don’t always purchase.

By spotting your customers in the categories above, you can use basic Google Analytics data to better understand how to close the first sale and keep them returning for more. If your analytics indicate fairly frequent cart abandonment rates in the checkout process, you’re likely dealing with a “wish list” or “active shopper” that you could reel in with incentive offers before they disappear. A fairly high percentage of repeat visitors who don’t finalize their purchases might indicate that you’re dealing with “determined shoppers” on the prowl for a special deal.

Your marketing approaches will still of course involve a fair amount of trial and error. But soon enough, you’ll understand why customers are drawn to your business — and what will keep them coming back.