3 Things I Learned About E-Commerce This Independence Day

By Scott

As a life-long marketer who loves learning about human behavior – especially “shopping” behavior – I find parties and similar get-togethers fascinating. They give me the opportunity to spend time with people who come from diverse backgrounds who tend to look at the world in very different ways than I do. This past weekend was no exception, and in between chowing on hot dogs and flag cake at the several BBQs I attended – I asked a lot of questions. Here are some of the things I learned.

1) There are people who actually ENJOY browsing email promotions!

“Jill” told me that she carves out time almost every day to sort through the 20 or so promotional e-mails that she receives from online retailers to “see what’s new,” and “to see what’s on sale.”

2) “Price” shoppers can be very savvy

“Bill” makes many of his online purchases over a several week period, and rarely buys something spontaneously. Once he knows what he wants to buy he will open a spread sheet, and will browse dozens of e-commerce sites. He records the price that each store sells the products for and he signs up to their newsletters. After several weeks he browses his inbox for promotional offers from those stores, updates his spread sheet, factors in the cost of shipping, and buys from the store who gave him the best deal.

3) When buying from “unknown” companies, shoppers may Google the name of the company in search of “red flags”

“Jackie” is not afraid to buy from online retailers she has never heard of before, and in fact she prefers to buy from specialty stores rather than “big box” stores. Over the years, however, she has made it a practice to open a new window before she completes a purchase to run a Google search of the name of the online retailer she is about to make a purchase from. She doesn’t spend a lot of time “investigating” the company, but she does skim the first page of results to see if any “red flags” jump out at her. One big red flag is when she searches for the name of the company, and only a few relevant results come out. She said, “I assume that means they are very new and have no track record,” or that “they are not savvy enough to care about their reputation.”

In closing: The next time you’re at a weekend party, consider doing some research of your own. Ask people what they like to buy online, and ask them to share their experiences doing so. Not only is this good fodder for a casual conversation, it serves to remind you that shoppers are more than numbers that show up in your analytics program. They are individuals with very unique needs and behaviors.