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Online Retailing – How Profitable are Impulsive Shoppers?

Impulsive shoppers are customers of online retailers that don’t think twice to buy a product online. For that reason they are targeted by most online retailers. However, the same characteristics that make behaviour of certain customers impulsive, may also affect their post purchase behaviour.

So let’s have a look at impulsive shoppers. Who they are? What motivate then? And how online retailers should manage them?

What is impulsive shopping?

Impulse shopping occurs when a consumer experiences a sudden, often powerful and persistent urge to buy something immediately 1. Impulsive shopping is part of the consumer buying behaviour process. Yet it differs from the traditional model, because impulsive shopping in contrast with ‘normal’ shopping is usually unplanned.

Who are impulsive shoppers?

How many times have you returned from the shopping center with products you don’t need or didn’t intent to buy. Similarly, when the doorbell rings and you receive a packet, and shockingly only remember then that you’ve bought something online only a couple of weeks ago.

Don’t stress, you’re not alone. It is estimated that impulsive shopping in the USA accounts for 80% in sales of certain product categories 2. Also that impulsive buying is more prevalent with new products. Here are more facts about impulse shoppers 2:

  • Gender – women tend to be more impulse shoppers than men;
  • Age – people under 35 years are more impulsive shoppers than older persons;
  • Culture – individualistic people are more impulsive shoppers than people living in collectivist cultures.

The mood and personality traits of people also affect their urge to do impulsive shopping. People with positive moods love impulsive shopping. In the same way, people with negative moods may use impulsive shopping to feel better 2. Also, people who enjoy a pleasant experience whilst shopping, tend to be impulsive shoppers 2.

A study to investigate the relationship between personality traits and compulsive shopping indicated the following 3:

  • There is a positive relationship between people with emotional instability (anxiety, moodiness, irritability, and sadness) and impulsive shopping;
  • People that are more imaginative, cultured, curious, original, broad minded, intelligent and artistically sensitive are more likely to display Impulsive-buying behaviours;

So that’s your impulsive shopper. No let’s do business with them!

Targeting and managing impulsive shoppers

If you take into consideration the traits of impulsive shoppers that were discussed under the previous heading, you may match your product, brand and content with you customer’s gender, age, culture, mood and personality.

However, to target and manage impulsive shoppers successfully, you need to know their shopping behaviour. It’s therefore very important to gather and analyse your customer’s data. Or, if you are a start-up, buy external data (customer lists) to analyse and use.

You can create a profile of your impulsive shoppers using the answers that the data provide. So, you need to communicate brands, products and content to the customers you target to trigger their urge to shop. Also important is to find out where they hang out online (social groups, Facebook pages, etc) to publish your content there.

How profitable are impulsive shoppers?

“As of now, e-commerce has already become a part of our online agenda, mainly because of how easy and hassle-free it is to go shopping online”, said Catalin Zorzini from Ecommerce Platforms.

The internet has made it easier for people to shop. Everything is so simple. You’ve got large variety products to choose from and it’s easy to compare prices.  After all, the sale is just a click away. Retailers have never had is so good…

But, there is the other side. Now the customer has received the stuff he bought online, it’s a week later, and he decided the buy was a bad decision. So, after reading the retailer’s return policy, he just do that – return the product.

And now your impulsive buyers that you’ve spend many dollars to find on Facebook, is costing your money. The solution – rather build a solid relationship with loyal customers. Loyal customers that are impulsive shoppers are profitable.

Conclusion

Every shopper is unique and therefore behaves differently under similar conditions. Nevertheless, the internet gives us the opportunity with big data and web analytics to know each customer personally and how he behaves when he is shopping.

Best is to make every impulse shopper a loyal shopper by personalizing their content and product offering.

Read also: Hi I’m you emotional customer. Can you please help me?

Notes

1 Verplanken, B. and Sato, A. 2011. The psychology of impulse buying: An integrative self-regulation approach, Journal of Consumer Policy, 34(2):197-210.

2 Kacen, J.J. and Lee, J.A. 2002. The influence of culture on consumer impulsive buying behaviour, Journal of Consumer Psychology, 12(2):163-176.

3 Shahjehan, A., Qureshi, J.A., Zeb, F. and Saifullah, K. 2012. The effect of personality on impulsive and compulsive buying behaviors, African Journal of Business Management, 6(6):2187.

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