Designing Experiences for E-Commerce Shoppers

The Nielsen Norman Group has identified five types of e-commerce shoppers:

Product-focused shoppers know exactly what they want. They only want to locate the product, confirm it’s the right one, and buy it. Some don’t even look at product descriptions at all – a quick look at the name and picture confirms that the product is the right one and they’ll buy it. Their goal is speed – get shoppers to the right product, let them know it’s the right product, and take them to checkout. For this shopper have:

  • Clear identification of each product through descriptive names and clear product images
  • An effective search that makes it easy to quickly locate items of interest and to pick the right item from the search-results list
  • Easy access to previously purchased items for simple reorder
  • A streamlined checkout to get shoppers in and out as quickly as possible

Browsers want to see what’s new, what’s popular, and what’s on sale. They are interested in the latest items, the latest deals, and what other people are buying. Related items and suggested products help them navigate the site, leading to new areas or new products. Top-selling products, popular products, and top-ranked products can all attract browsing shoppers. Consider the opportunity for word-of-mouth marketing as well, by letting shoppers easily share their “finds” with friends. For this shopper have:

  • Listings of new, popular, and sale products
  • Easy access to new inventory through related links and recommended products
  • Ability to share information about products they like

Researchers are collecting information about products and prices. They may visit multiple sites to gather information before committing to a purchase. If researchers see that your site offers detailed product descriptions, excellent support, and clear navigation, they’re more likely to buy from your site. Ensure your site has:

  • Clear and detailed product descriptions
  • Definitions of unfamiliar terminology or product features, in context and written in easy-to-understand language
  • User reviews
  • Easy comparison between products
  • Easy-to-edit shopping carts that retain products between visits

Bargain hunters look for the best deal possible. Send coupons, offer discounts, and give these shoppers free shipping with minimum purchases to attract and retain them. Make it easy for them to find and purchase the best deals by:

  • Displaying sale items alongside full-priced inventory, as well as providing a clear section for discounted items
  • Listing product prices and associated discounts and savings
  • Allowing easy coupon redemption or applying discounts automatically when criteria are met

One-time shoppers are visiting due to a one-time need. They are often gift-card recipients, gift-card buyers, or gift buyers. A main complaint of one-time shoppers is site registration. The One-time shopper has the same requirements as your First-time shopper so ensure that you always have:

  • Clear site navigation
  • Complete product descriptions
  • Clear and trustworthy company information
  • Checkout without registration

For your e-commerce shopping experience, determine who your greatest value target customer is and design your experience for them. It is good to understand these general types but you will want to do your own research on your specific target customer to design an experience that enchants them.