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Ecommerce Growth

The psychology of an online shopper

It is crucial for businesses to make sure they understand and appeal to their target audience when they communicate with consumers.

The psychology of an online shopper

The decision-making process in the human brain

When people decide whether or not to make a purchase, they follow the same decision-making process: the Nicosia Model.

Developed by professor Francesco M. Nicosia in 1966, this model outlines four key phases that consumers work through when making decisions:

Phase 1: The Process Attitude Formation

This phase encompasses the relationship between the information that a business communicates with its target audience and the actual attitudes of each individual shopper.

When a business markets a particular product, shoppers react positively or negatively to this marketing based on their own personal experiences and beliefs. This means it is crucial for businesses to make sure they understand and appeal to their target audience when they communicate with consumers.

During this phase of the decision-making process, consumers are determining their attitudes toward a business and its products based on the information they receive from the business and from the market in general when shopping online.

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Phase 2: Evaluation

The next phase in the Nicosia Model is when the consumer searches for information about a specific product. They do research, weigh their findings, and use that information to evaluate whether or not a specific product from a specific brand will be able to meet their needs.

Phase 3: Customer behavior

If the consumer is satisfied with a particular product, he will be motivated to make a purchase and become a customer. Even though during this phase, the consumer actually buys a product from a business, it is still not the end of the decision-making process.

Phase 4: Feedback

After a customer is able to use or interact with the product he purchased, he will have feedback that he will use to inform future purchasing decisions. For instance, he might decide that he would rather not make a purchase from a certain business again if his experience with a product is subpar.

If the consumer shares this feedback, it can also help businesses provide better products and better service to future customers. They can use this input to shape the way they develop and market their products so that they see better results in the future.

Understanding the steps of this decision-making process can help marketers learn the best ways to help consumers make decisions that are favorable to their business.

Ethical shopping

Now more than ever, consumers are considering ethics when they shop online. The eCommerce market is seeing a rise in the conscious consumer, and businesses that want to stay profitable need to make sure they are keeping these conscious shoppers in mind:

Conscious vs. Unconscious shopping

There are two main types of shopping that businesses need to factor into their marketing strategies: conscious and unconscious shopping.

Consumers who engage in conscious shopping:

  • Typically prefer to buy from sustainable brands
  • Buy less than other shoppers
  • Are more willing to buy second-hand products or shop your closet
  • Value quality over quantity
  • Shop with a list or a clear goal in mind
  • Set a budget when shopping

Consumers who engage in unconscious shopping:

  • Are easily influenced by sales
  • Shop when they feel bored, tired, hungry, lonely, or upset
  • Don’t set a time frame for shopping
  • Shop with family and friends influencing their purchasing decisions

Unlike unconscious shopping, where consumers often make purchases simply because a product is on sale or based on their emotions, conscious shoppers take more effort to reach because they care about where their money goes.

What affects the decision-making process?

There are many factors that influence a consumer’s decision-making process. eCommerce businesses that want to successfully market their products toward consumers and improve their bottom line need to consider how consumers’ brain processes elements like the colors, sounds, business signage, logos, and smells. It can, both directly and indirectly, shape the online shopper’s decision-making process.

Here are some key factors that businesses need to consider when they try to convince consumers to buy their products:

How the human brain works

It is important for marketers to have an understanding of how the human brain works to process information if they want to attract and maintain the attention of their target audience.

For instance, research shows that people remember 10% of the things they hear, 80% of the things they see or do, and 20% of what they have read. An eCommerce business that attempts to market their products using text-only ads or one that fills their website with endless blocks of text will not find as much success as one that incorporates videos, images, and interactive elements to their website and their marketing.

The human brain thrives on visuals. People are able to process visuals 60,000 times faster than text, and 90% of information sent to the brain is visual.

As a result, businesses need to make sure that include visual elements or their websites and in their marketing strategy.


Colors can also influence shopping decisions for different types of shoppers. Considering the fact that 93% of consumers value visual appearance and colors above other factors and colors can increase brand recognition by as much as 80%,  eCommerce businesses need to be aware of what every color means and how different colors affect online shoppers.

Here are a few color psychology insights businesses should note when crafting their websites, logos, and advertisements:

  • Yellow. This color is youthful and optimistic, and it is great for grabbing attention quickly. Businesses should consider using this color for pop-up advertisements.
  • Red. Red creates a sense of urgency. This color is great for advertising sales, limited-time offers, or any deals where consumers need to act fast. For this reason, red (as well as orange) is a color that appeals to impulse shoppers.
  • Blue. There is a reason why many security officers and banks wear the color blue. It is a color that is associated with trust and security. Businesses that need to show consumers they are trustworthy should consider using this color. Blue often appeals to consumers who shop on a budget.
  • Green. Green is a color that is easy for the eyes to process, giving it a relaxing effect. This is a good color for businesses to use in areas on their website where they want consumers to read carefully or linger for a while.
  • Orange. Like red, orange is also an intense color that promotes action and urgency. This color is good for call-to-action buttons and for emphasizing other actionable steps.
  • Pink. Pink is effortlessly feminine and romantic. eCommerce businesses whose target audiences consist of women or who sell products that are considered romantic should incorporate pink into their websites.
  • Black. Black represents power and respect, and it is a color that is both sleek and chic. This color is great for eCommerce businesses that sell luxury products or products from luxury brands.
  • Purple. Purple is rich, soothing, and relaxing. This color is effective for selling products related to beauty, health, and wellness.


While it might seem insignificant, the sounds and music associated with your brand or used on your website can also influence consumer shopping.

For example, playing classical music in a wine store encourages consumers to buy more expensive bottles of wine.

Music is especially important for online businesses to consider when they set up their customer service hotlines because consumers who hear music they enjoy tend to feel like they are waiting for shorter periods of time than people who do not hear music they like.

As you choose your customer service hotline music, note that when it comes to consumer music preferences, 17% of consumers like pop music, 10% like rock, 6% like R&B and hip-hop, and 9% like jazz and the blues.


While eCommerce businesses do not have the same signage as traditional businesses, their business logos and headings are just as important when it comes to influencing consumers to make a purchase.

Considering 68% of consumers believe a business’ signage reflects the quality of its products and services, it is crucial for eCommerce businesses to invest time into creating the perfect logo.

eCommerce businesses should also focus on the words they choose to use for any slogans or advertisements they will associate with their brand. For instance, posting a sign that says “sale” will increase the likelihood of consumers visiting a store, and using the word “guaranteed” will make consumers 60% more likely to buy a product.


While eCommerce businesses are not able to use smell to reach online shoppers, there is no doubt that this element plays a significant role when it comes to influencing decisions for consumers shopping at traditional brick and mortar stores.

Here are a few ways that common scents influence shoppers:

  • Talcum powder. This scent evokes feelings of safety, security, and nostalgia.
  • Peppermint and citrus. These smells make people feel more alert.
  • Lavender, vanilla, and chamomile. These scents are relaxing, restoring, and peaceful.
  • Barbeque and smoke. These scents make consumers feel like the room they are in is smaller.
  • Apple and cucumber. These scents make consumers perceive a room as larger.
  • Leather and cedar. These smells make people think of expensive or luxury goods like furniture.
  • Freshly baked goods. This scent makes people think of making larger purchases like buying a home.
  • Floral scents. These smells make people shop longer and spend more money.
  • Pumpkin pie and lavender. This combination of scents can be arousing to men.

When businesses use these smells in their stores, they can help encourage consumers to browse certain products and make purchases.

Online Shoppers’ Decision Making

Just like traditional brick-and-mortar businesses, eCommerce businesses need to know how online shoppers tend to make their shopping decisions.

Here are a few of the key consumer decision-making factors eCommerce  businesses should consider:


87% of consumers make purchasing decisions based on the price of a product. Businesses that want to increase their profitability need to make sure they offer competitive pricing.

Return policy

68% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase if there is a free or flexible return policy, and 48% of shoppers say they would shop more with businesses that have simple return policies.


80% of consumers are more likely to buy products from businesses offering low shipping costs and fast shipping. In fact, 53% of consumers are willing to switch online retailers for low-cost shipping.

Brand reputation

A brand’s reputation and trustworthiness influence the shopping decisions of 67% of consumers. eCommerce businesses need to show online shoppers they are trustworthy by focusing on improving their brand reputation and adding verification tools and reviews to their site.

Sales and discounts

71% of consumers make purchases based on sales or discount offers. eCommerce businesses should make sure to advertise their sales effectively so that consumers will visit their site and make a purchase.

Website navigation

Consumers want to be able to find the products they need quickly. Simple site navigation influences 64% of consumers’ shopping decisions.


 71% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase from an eCommerce site with a variety of product options in stock.

Targeted products

53% of consumers look to buy from businesses that offer a tailored selection of products. Consumers want products that they will find relevant and useful, and they do not want to be inundated with products they cannot use.

Trustworthy reviews

68% of consumers make purchases based on reviews they see on a website. eCommerce businesses should incorporate reviews and consumer feedback on their website.


46% of consumers are more likely to buy products from businesses that have mobile-friendly webpages, and 40% of mobile users went to a competitor’s site after having a poor mobile shopping experience.

Website design

92% of consumers are influenced by website design and visuals. Considering the fact that 90% of shoppers say that videos aid in their decision process, it is vital for eCommerce businesses to incorporate video on their websites.

Types of shoppers

There are seven main types of shoppers, and each one has different online shopping habits.

The Bargain Shopper

These shoppers have one mission: to get the best deal. They wait to buy products until they can find sales offering the best possible prices, and they use coupons and discount codes when shopping online.

Roughly 80% of consumers are considered “price-conscious.” These bargain shoppers are typically part of the millions of shoppers who make plans to shop on Thanksgiving weekend and Cyber Monday.

The Researcher

These shoppers do their due diligence before making a purchase, and they are definitely not impulse buyers. About 81% of shoppers fall into this category as they make sure to conduct research online before buying anything.

The Man on a Mission

This type of shopper is goal-oriented and online shops to buy a specific product to fulfill a specific need. These shoppers want to be able to find exactly what they are looking for quickly and without any hassle.

The Impulse Buyer

The complete opposite of The Researcher, these shoppers allow emotions to dictate their purchasing habits. Whether they are bored or upset or lonely, these shoppers buy before thinking. This type of shopper is very common with approximately 84% of all shoppers claiming to have made impulse purchases at some point in their lives.

The Negotiator

Encompassing roughly 20% of all consumers, this type of shopper is known for trying to get the best deal possible through negotiation. Their main goal is to get a business to lower its price on a product so that they can “win” every time they make a purchase.

The Loyalist

These shoppers like to buy from brands they know, love, and trust. Several shoppers fall into this category with 75% of shoppers belonging to up to 10 loyalty programs.

It is imperative for eCommerce businesses to know these types of shoppers so that they can adjust their marketing strategy to appeal to their target audience.

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