website optimizations based on these types of shoppersWebsite optimization needs to be intentional. Just as shoppers at brick-and-mortar retailers are unique, so are ecommerce shoppers. Each part of the ecommerce website is important to the site’s overall success – product listings, visual layout, ease of navigation, checkout procedures, etc. However, different types of shoppers rely on different parts of the website in order to consider their interactions (and hopefully purchases) satisfactory. Understanding the different types of buyers, and tailoring your website accordingly, is an important part of increasing sales.

In the Nielsen Norman Group’s Ecommerce User Experience report series, five types of shoppers were identified, and each was found to have different needs for online shopping. Website optimization should focus on appealing to them. The five types of shoppers are:

  • Product focused
  • Browsers
  • Researchers
  • Bargain hunters
  • One-time shoppers


Product Focused Shoppers

Product focused shoppers generally know exactly which item they are looking for before they even sign on. They have done all of their research, and now just need to find their desired product. The item they are looking for may be something that they have already purchased in the past. This type of shopper is not looking to browse the website, but just find the product, make sure it’s the right one, and buy it. They sometimes don’t even read the description, they just quickly scan names and images to locate the item.

Goal: Provide website optimization that allows the shopper to make a purchase quickly.

These website optimization elements appeal to the product focused shopper:

  • Clear and detailed images of products
  • Descriptive names of products
  • User-friendly search function that makes it easy to find desired items and to select the right one from search results
  • Access to previous orders for quick reorder
  • Streamlined checkout, making it easy to get in, buy, and get out



Browsers are not at all like product focused shoppers. They often don’t have a specific item in mind when they visit a website. They are looking for something that captures their attention and inspires them to make a purchase. Browsers are people who are likely to spend time on your site, using it as entertainment and to get ideas for what they might like to buy. Although they don’t always make a purchase, there is opportunity to turn browsers into buyers. If they have a positive experience looking around your site, they are more likely to return to it when they are ready to buy. Browsers often develop favorite sites that they visit often to see what’s new, popular, or on sale. They want to see what has changed since their last visit to the site. Social media usage is often high with browsers, up to 16% of these shoppers purchase products that they see posted by their friends on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and other sites.

Goal: Provide a website that allows the shopper to be inspired.

These website optimization elements appeal to browsers:

  • Descriptive listings of products
  • New, popular, and on sale inventory listings that are accessible through links and product recommendations
  • Provide sharing widgets so browsers can share about products they like on social media



Shoppers who are researchers are interested in collecting information about a purchase that they may make today, but may not make for weeks or even months. They typically are looking to get the best product, for the best price, with the most convenience, reliability, and a good return policy. Researchers may gather information from several sites before making their purchase, so it is important that your website conveys a message of trust and knowledgeability about your products.

Goal: Provide a website that is consistent and trustworthy.

These elements appeal to researchers:

  • Detailed and accurate descriptions of inventory and product availability
  • User reviews are essential to researchers
  • Easy comparison between items
  • Shopping carts that are easily edited and recovered, like those offered by WooCommerce


Bargain Hunters

Bargain hunters are looking online to find a good deal. Once this type of shopper finds a good deal on a website, they will likely return to it for future purchases. These shoppers are incentivized by sales and discounts. In fact, bargain hunters are willing to spend larger amounts of time on a specific site than other shoppers, sign up for newsletters and coupons, and post to social media in order to get a great deal.

Goal: Provide a website that offers deals and discounts.

These website optimization elements appeal to bargain hunters:

  • Displaying sale prices and discounts alongside regular prices (strikethrough pricing is perfect for bargain hunters)
  • Sale, discount, or clearance sections on the website
  • Easy coupon redemption
  • Automatic discounts when certain criteria are met


One-time Shoppers

One-time shoppers are usually looking to buy something that is out of their comfort zone. Shoppers buying gifts for someone else are sometimes one-time shoppers, especially if the item is not something they are accustomed to buying. This type of buyer needs user-friendly navigation on the site, detailed product descriptions and images, and easy checkout.

Goal: Provide a user-friendly, knowledgeable website.

These website optimization elements appeal to one-time shoppers:

  • Easy website navigation
  • Detailed descriptions and images of products
  • Trustworthy company information
  • Guest checkout

Appealing to all types of customers is essential for your ecommerce business to be successful. A well-rounded website, that incorporates the above aspects into its design, will encourage shoppers to buy, no matter what their type.

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