Six Buying Behaviors You Must Understand to Drive Sales for your New E-Commerce Shop

Your e-commerce business, whether ten years or ten minutes old and regardless of its focus, has a lot of competition. The surest path to rising above the crowd is a deep understanding of the psychology and patterns of customer buying behaviors.

In this post, we share six key points to understanding your target customer’s buying behaviors. These insights will guide your sales and website development strategies to help you understand the dynamics of customer decisions.

Understand most people make purchase decisions based on feelings rather than relying on logic or rationality.

It is, of course, important that your product makes rational sense. But don’t over-index on the quantifiable components of your product. After all, it’s emotion that often rule our purchasing behaviors. Even the most analytic consumers may not realize how their feelings are driving their buying decisions (and they’d likely never admit it) – but this has been well-studied in the field of behavioral economics.

According to a study by the Harvard Business Review, emotions are the key drivers of purchase decisions, with 95% of those decisions taking place subconsciously. That means, often without realizing it, consumers are buying products because of how they make them feel, not necessarily because of logical reasons such as price or product features.

In practical terms, this means your e-commerce business must not only focus on product quality and price but also on the emotional connection and experiences your customers have with your brand. Storytelling is a powerful tool for evoking emotions and creating a connection. You can and should share the story behind your brand, your mission, or the stories of people who benefit from your product.

Another effective approach is to highlight the emotional benefits of your product. For instance, instead of just marketing a skincare product as ‘anti-aging,’ you could position it as a tool for ’embracing your natural beauty at every age,’ sparking feelings of empowerment and self-love. Similarly, instead of just selling a watch, show how owning that watch might make someone feel successful, classy, or adventurous.

Also, remember that the customer experience doesn’t stop at the purchase. Even the after-sale service can evoke emotions. Fast delivery, a surprise discount for a future purchase, or a personalized thank you note can all create positive feelings towards your brand, improving customer retention and encouraging repeat purchases.

Understanding that people make purchase decisions based on feelings rather than logic is critical for maximizing your e-commerce sales. By recognizing this and weaving emotional connection into your marketing and sales strategy, you can influence buying behavior and drive success for your new online shop.

There is no single set of buying behaviors so you need to make sure you appeal to a wide range of approaches.

Every customer is unique, with their own set of desires, needs, and buying behaviors. They each interact with your e-commerce store in their own way, driven by individual motivations and circumstances. That’s why it’s crucial to step outside your own perspective and consider a broad range of approaches to appeal to as many potential customers as possible.

Let’s say you invented a product to address a specific problem that you personally encountered. While this gives you a unique insight and passion for your product, it’s essential to remember that your experience isn’t universal. The problem you solved may resonate with many customers, but it might not be relevant. And it’s these ‘others’ that you need to start considering if you want to expand your customer base and increase your sales.

One way to step out of your own head is to conduct thorough market research. Try to understand the varying motivations and needs of your potential customers. Identify the different segments within your target audience and explore how your product could address their unique needs. Engage in active conversations with your customers via surveys, social media interactions, or direct interviews. If you can, ask someone who is previously-uninitiated with your product to navigate to your website and narrate their experience. Ask them to describe what they’re seeing and how they think about the page. This can provide invaluable insights into their preferences and buying behaviors.

Another key component is to be open to unconventional uses of your product. For example, if you developed a product to help people organize their workspace, you might find that customers are using it in their kitchens, garages, or even for travel. Embrace this. Highlight these diverse uses in your marketing materials, product descriptions, and customer testimonials.

Finally, keep an eye on customer feedback and reviews. They can reveal surprising uses for your product that you may not have considered, providing an opportunity to expand your marketing messaging and reach a wider audience.

Remember, the key is to empathize with your potential customers. By stepping out of your own experience and understanding the diversity of customer needs and uses for your product, you can create a more inclusive, appealing brand that resonates with a broad range of consumers, thereby driving more sales for your e-commerce shop.

Customers are drawn to solutions and narratives, not sales pitches.

People are seeking solutions to their problems and narratives that resonate with their experiences and aspirations. Sales pitches might catch a customer’s attention momentarily, but it’s the solutions and stories that truly engage them and lead to a purchase.

Solutions over sales pitches: People don’t buy products; they buy the outcomes those products deliver. Your customers are not just buying an item; they’re buying a solution to a challenge they face or a means to fulfill a desire. It’s important to focus on these solutions in your marketing. Show your customers how your product can make their lives easier, happier, or more fulfilling. This approach is far more compelling than a sales pitch focused solely on product specifications or features.

Narratives over noise: Stories are incredibly powerful. They stir emotions and create a connection, making your product more relatable and appealing. Instead of bombarding your customers with sales-driven language, weave narratives into your marketing. Tell the story of your brand, share customer testimonials, or create content that illustrates the journey your product can take your customer on. These narratives add a human element to your e-commerce shop, helping your customers see your products as more than just items, but as integral parts of their own life stories.

In summary, in today’s consumer climate, a hard sales pitch can often be seen as inauthentic or aggressive. Instead, focusing on providing solutions and crafting narratives can build a deeper connection with your customers, turning them from one-time purchasers to loyal, repeat customers.

People are heavily influenced by the experiences of others.

The prevalence of the social proof phenomenon, a psychological concept where people look to the actions of others to determine their own, cannot be overstated.

Online reviews, testimonials, and user-generated content are some of the most potent forms of social proof in e-commerce. According to a survey by BrightLocal, 91% of consumers are more likely to use a business if it has positive reviews. This demonstrates the enormous impact other people’s experiences can have on prospective customers.

But it’s not just about positive reviews. Customers are drawn to genuine, authentic experiences. They want to see the good and the bad, as it gives them a more realistic understanding of what to expect from your product. This transparency builds trust and can sway a potential buyer who is on the fence.

Additionally, user-generated content, like unboxing videos, blog posts, or social media photos, can also heavily influence potential customers. Seeing your product in a real-world context, used by real people, makes it easier for customers to imagine how they might use and benefit from the product themselves.

Influencer marketing can be another powerful tool, especially for reaching younger audiences. People tend to trust influencers they follow and value their opinions, making them a potent source of product recommendations.

In essence, the power of the crowd can’t be underestimated in e-commerce. Leveraging social proof in your marketing strategy – through reviews, testimonials, user-generated content, and influencer partnerships – can significantly boost your credibility and drive sales.

Once you have someone hooked and interested in your product from an emotional level, you need to ensure you are addressing the quantifiable buying behaviors, too.

Emphasize value. Highlighting value in your product listings is of paramount importance in e-commerce. Customers aren’t just buying a product; they’re investing in a solution, an experience, or a way to enhance their lives. Your product listing needs to clearly communicate not only the features and specifications of the product but also the unique value it brings to the customer. Whether it’s saving time, providing a unique experience, promoting well-being, or offering unrivaled quality, these value propositions should be clearly conveyed. Doing so helps customers understand why your product is worth buying over other options and can significantly influence their purchasing decision, leading to increased sales and customer satisfaction for your e-commerce store.

Transparency and specificity goes a long way in establishing credibility, regardless of whether your target is more emotional or analytical in their buying behaviors.

Transparency and specificity are essential for establishing credibility in your e-commerce shop, and they also play a significant role in enhancing your SEO.

Clear, detailed, and accurate product descriptions not only build trust with customers but also provide search engines with the rich content they need to understand and rank your site. Precise product titles, relevant keywords, and detailed meta descriptions can improve your visibility on search engine result pages (SERPs).

On the transparency front, openly sharing information about your company, production process, or sourcing can create a sense of trust and authenticity, elements that can translate into customer loyalty and improved brand reputation. Moreover, search engines like Google favor sites that demonstrate high levels of experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness (E-E-A-T), further emphasizing the importance of transparency and specificity for both credibility and SEO in your e-commerce business.

Your marketing solution won’t be found in a textbook, it’ll be found by people with first-hand experience.

While theories, models, and strategies gleaned from textbooks provide an important foundational understanding, real-world application and experience often present nuances that can’t be captured in a book. The unpredictable and ever-changing nature of the market, consumer behavior, and competitive dynamics demand a flexible, hands-on approach.

Those with direct experience, who have tested different strategies, learned from failures, and iterated upon successes, possess invaluable practical insights. They understand how to adapt theoretical knowledge to fit real-world scenarios. That’s the nice way of saying, “okay, now go out there and build it!”

Drew Chapin is an early-stage business development professional whose work centers on the intersection of commerce and media especially in product discovery (formats, search engine optimization), new media, and advertising.