When we talk about how our customers behave online, it’s easy to divide them into two groups – seekers, who come to your website without much in the way of an agenda, and buyers, who have a specific intent that’s brought them to you.
A buyer knows what they want. How exact their knowledge is, can vary.
Some buyers are thinking in broad, sweeping terms when they begin their search. For example, a buyer might need an impressive piece of jewelry to serve as the perfect holiday gift, or someone to help them fix whatever’s wrong with the garage door opener, or a summer camp that’s not completely booked already. And sometimes buyers know precisely what they want – the only grain-free, cruelty-free, all-organic food their dog will eat, delivered in small bags because the big bags go stale too quickly.
The more precise and focused a shopper is when they begin their search, the more important convenience becomes to the online experience. Our pet parent has zero interest in any other type of dog food, because this is the brand their dog eats. They buy the same food over and over and over again. This is a habitual buying behavior.
For other examples of habitual buying behavior, think of anything that Amazon lets you subscribe to. Everyday essentials that are sold this way include things like trash bags, laundry detergent, and diapers.
Think about your business. Do your customers have habitual buying behaviors related to your business? We look at the data for the answers. Paying attention to how a customer comes to your website, what page they come to, and what actions they take upon reaching that page can reveal patterns of customer behavior. If we see a significant percentage of customers coming directly to a product page, rapidly adding that product to their shopping cart and checking out, it’s a good indication that there’s some habitual buying going on.
The data may show your customers aren’t engaging in habitual buying behaviors. Their route to purchase isn’t short and direct. Instead, we see website visitors spending time exploring your website – as evidenced by doing things like watching videos or reading blogs, as well as going between different product pages or even categories before they make a decision. These buyers may not even make a decision on their first visit to your website. They may visit your website and your social media several times before taking action. That’s because they’re making a complex purchase – which is defined as being expensive and emotionally important, with complicating factors like budgets and timelines to consider.
Every business is different. Your customers may be primarily habitual buyers. Your customers may be exclusively complex buyers – real estate and car sales are great examples – or your business might serve a mix of both types of buyers. Your data is going to have these answers for you.
Once you know what the situation is for your customer audiences, you can use this knowledge to refine your website design. Streamlining the path to purchase for the habitual buyer is good customer service and demonstrates you’re listening to them. Honoring the complex buyer’s need for information to make better purchasing decisions always pays off. Integrating both approaches into one website is a balancing act made easier with the use of data.