E-commerce Tools & Best Practices

Love Your Customers? Learn More About What Makes Them Tick.

By: Deanna deBara | February 6, 2020

Ever wonder what lurks beneath the surface of the shopper mindset just before clicking “Buy?”

There’s actually quite a lot that goes into the purchasing process from a psychological standpoint. Here, we’ll explore just that—what drives your shopper’s purchasing decisions, what “retail therapy” actually means in the age of e-commerce, and how to tap into shopper thought processes to provide the best possible experience for your customers (and drive sales at the same time).

The Psychology Of Shopping: Why People Love To Shop

There’s no denying that people love to shop. But what is it about retail therapy that draws people in—and gets them to spend their hard-earned cash?

There are a number of physical and psychological reasons people love to shop, including:

  • It’s a rush. Shopping activates the brain’s reward centers, causing a rush of the feel-good neurotransmitter dopamine—which explains why some people experience shopping like a high
  • FOMO. “FOMO” stands for “fear of missing out,” a phenomenon which has gained serious traction in today’s social media age. And, as it turns out, FOMO and need to have it all can be a serious driver of purchasing decisions. A 2014 survey found that 68 percent of millennial shoppers will make a reactive purchase as a result of FOMO. 
  • It’s a distraction. Many people use shopping as a way to escape from challenging emotions like boredom, sadness, or loneliness—hence the term “shopping therapy.”

Why They Love to Shop Online

There are also psychological reasons why people love—and many prefer—to shop online. Not only is shopping online more convenient (especially with fast shipping and hassle-free returns), shopping online also gives you more bang for your buck when it comes to pleasure and rewards.

When you shop online, you get the one-two punch of dopamine and anticipation; you get the dopamine rush when you make a purchase, then you get to experience the anticipatory excitement as you wait for it to arrive, and then another rush of feel-good neurotransmitters when your purchase arrives. Basically, the anticipation that goes with making a purchase online increases the amount of shopping-related pleasure—which is why so many people are going digital to get their shop on.

How You Can Leverage Shopper Psychology To Drive E-commerce Sales

Now that you know some of the reasons why people love retail therapy, let’s go deeper into how you can leverage it all to increase your e-commerce sales.

Harness the power of color

Different colors inspire different actions. And when you understand the psychology of color, you can use it to inspire specific actions with your customers—and drive up sales in the process.

For example, the color red is believed to inspire excitement, which can drive purchasing decisions—making it a potentially great choice to use on product pages. Blue is thought to inspire a sense of trust—so incorporating it into your brand color palette can make you appear more trustworthy to your customers (which, ultimately, will make them more comfortable shopping with you).

The point is, color can have a direct impact on perception and behavior—and if you can tap into color psychology, you can use it to drive conversions, purchases, and sales. 

Create A Sense Of Scarcity

As mentioned, FOMO is a real phenomenon—and if you can create a sense of scarcity with your products, you can tap into that FOMO and potentially build your sales.

There’s science to back this up. The scarcity principle is one of the six psychological principles of persuasion. Pioneered by psychologist (and business expert) Dr. Robert Cialdini, it basically means that people want more of what there is less of. So, if shoppers have the impression that there’s a limited opportunity to purchase an item, they’re more likely to make a purchase than if the item was available indefinitely. On the flip-side, it’s not right to state that something is scarce when it isn’t, but if you sell limited-edition or one-of-a-kind items, this would certainly apply.

Using the scarcity principle is an extremely effective way to tap into shopping psychology and drive purchasing behavior. There are a variety of ways to leverage the scarcity principle to increase conversions on your e-commerce site, including:

  • Limited edition products
  • Limited time offers
  • Online-only deals
  • Holiday sales or products (for example, a 24-hour flash sale)
  • Using scarcity-focused language (for example, “Only a few left” or “Going, going…GONE”)

Make Shopping Easy and Enjoyable for Your Customers

Today’s shopper is all about convenience; the easier it is to make a purchase, the more likely people are to buy. 

That’s why it’s so important to eliminate any hassles or barriers to making a purchase—and make the shopping process simple, straightforward, and enjoyable for your customers.

There are a few different ways you can make your e-commerce shop as convenient and user-friendly as possible, including:

  • Getting organized. People aren’t going to spend an eternity hunting for what they’re looking for. Organize your categories, product pages, and other areas of your website (like your returns policy and contact information) in a way that makes sense for your end user—and makes it easy (and fast!) for them to find the products or information they need.
  • Making the checkout process a snap. If you want to increase your sales, the checkout process is a great place to start. Enable saved carts (which can help lower cart abandonment, especially for shoppers who like to comparison shop or think things over before making a purchase—aka the majority), provide secure payment options, and have a confirmation that summarizes the order and let’s your shoppers know their purchases were confirmed. 
  • Offering fast shipping and simple returns. Customers are going to be extremely hesitant to make a purchase if delivery is going to take a month—or if the return process is a complete headache. 

Managing the shipping and returns process might seem complicated, but it doesn’t have to be. Shippo enables online merchants the ability to provide convenient, fast shipping (domestic and international) and hassle-free returns—all without draining your budget.

The Better You Understand Your Customers, The More You Can Expand Your Business

You love your customers. And with a better understanding of shopper psychology, you can create a more effective e-commerce experience for your customers—and grow your business in the process. 

Explore Shippo today for fast, convenient and cost-effective shipping solutions.

Deanna deBara

Deanna deBara is a freelance writer based in Portland, who specializes in business, marketing, and productivity topics. When she's not busy writing, you can find her hiking the PNW with her husband and rescue dog, Bennett. Learn more about Deanna at deannadebara.com/content-marketing. 

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