Five Types of E-Commerce Shoppers

The Nielsen Norman Group has done extensive research with people shopping online and identified five main types of behavior: product-focused, browsing, researchers, bargain-hunters, and one-time shoppers. Each customer type benefits from a different online experience:


Product-focused shoppers know the exact product model and options they want. They want to easily find the item they are looking for, add it to their cart and checkout. One look at the name and product image and they are ready to go – they may not even look at the product description.

An effective search tool and streamline checkout is the best way to help these shoppers.


Browsers are curious, killing time, and casually checking out things. They are interested in what’s changing.

For these shoppers, include links for “new arrivals”, “popular” and “sales” items.


The Researcher’s goal is to gather information on products – prices, feature comparisons, reviews, etc.

Convert Researchers to Buyers by ensuring they get the answers to their questions with thoughtful, relevant content and detailed images. Comparison charts to show how you are different (better) can help you earn their trust.


Bargain-Hunters are looking for savings and a good deal. They will put in the extra effort to get more savings like signup for newsletters and find coupon codes.

Include ‘discounted items’ on your product pages, show the savings amount, automatically add discounts and make it easy to apply coupons.

Bargain-Hunters may overlap with other types of shoppers.

One-Time Shoppers

One-time Shoppers may belong to other type of shopper, too. They may have received a gift card to a place that is new to them or are looking to buy a gift card for someone else that they don’t typically go. These customers have never been to your site and don’t expect to return.

Provide site navigation that easily display your range of products and allow them to checkout as a guest without needing to create an account.

Here’s a checklist of some of the things you can do to support all five types of shoppers:

  • An effective search tool
  • Site navigation that easily display your range of products
  • Highlight “new arrivals”, “popular” and “sales” items
  • Thoughtful, relevant content and detailed images
  • Comparison charts
  • Include ‘discounted items’ on your product pages and show the savings amount
  • Automatically add discounts and make it easy to apply coupons
  • A streamline checkout process that allows guest to checkout without needing to create an account

Sherwin, Katie. 5 Types of E-commerce Shoppers. Nielsen Norman Group.