On average, 71% of shopping carts are abandoned. This observation is the chief concern among ecommerce retailers. But progressive online merchants and those companies which support them are tracking many online shopping behaviors to better align their services with new consumer trends. One of the key questions to answer is why consumers behave the way they do so they can determine how to incorporate digital media at crucial times to influence buyers' decisions. By uncovering a buyer's specific informational or emotional needs during the purchase process, digital retailers can brainstorm how to deliver the right content at the right times to fulfill them. These online shopping behaviors interest all savvy retailers. To aid in this quest, this article combines data from seven studies analyzing online shopping behavior over the last two years and provides business ideas for capitalizing on these trends.

online shopping behavior

Online shopping behaviors of your potential customers is important to monitor. Responding to this can take a number of forms ranging from creating special versions of sites for mobile, to using different approaches for qualifying traffic to the site in the first place.

Online Shopping Behavior Observations And Online Business Recommendations

In order for online merchants to keep attuned to online shopping behavior and constantly communicate with your consumer base, more observation of customer behaviors is necessary. Using the appropriate diagnostic tools (such as your analytics software, and doing the proper optimization of landing pages and using AB or multivariate testing) is certainly a wise practice. In, addition, exploring the following areas will aid your efforts to unravel the complexities of the shopping consideration process and use them to your advantage.

Short Attention Spans

When customers enter keywords into their favorite search engines, they don't have the patience to sort through pages of results. According to a 2010 online shopping behavior study of adults between the ages of 18 and 34, 73% of consumers only look at their first page of results. Twenty percent will weather the search to the second page, and only 7% will follow through to the third. People shop online for convenience. They expect search engines to efficiently deliver results. If you don't have the benefit of distinguished brand awareness (and razor sharp SEO or PPC management skills), you'll be competing with many other websites vying for first page search results.


Adhere to search engine optimization best practices. Use key search terms strategically (looking for high search usage but low competition) to push your name to the top of the search results. You could also use a pay-per-click campaign to direct traffic to your website through more identifiable brands. Ultracart's UltraROI (Return on Investment) program combines multiple advanced tools to optimize your pay-per-click campaigns, including an ability to pause and resume PPC ads based on inventory levels, and being able to inject pricing into the PPC directly from your pricing database.

Distaste For Information Overload

This next online shopping behavior is a corollary of the previous observation. Excessive information delivered all at once, that is poorly organized, whether solicited or unsolicited, overwhelms shoppers who don't have the desire to sift through small print on their computer screens. If they cannot quickly find what they are looking for, they will change sites. While it's important to provide plenty of product information to assist consumers in the buying process, this preference has implications for the manner in which this content is delivered.


Consumers prefer brief product summaries when viewing merchandise for the first time. Provide these short descriptions underneath each product along with links leading to more detailed information. This organization cleans up your webpages, making them easier for users to digest information and navigate efficiently. Switch pop-up ads to stationary ones that are less intrusive to potential buyers. (Or possibly use rolling banners that they can control as an alternative.) It's best not to irritate prospects in the middle of their process of possible consideration of your products.

A Word On Luxury Item Shopping

A study conducted by iprospect.com in 2011 illustrated similar online shopping behaviors across income levels. Additionally, regardless of income level, the price of luxury items and consumer consideration time were directly proportional, meaning the more something costs, the more consideration it gets by a prospect before being purchased.


Sell a wide variety of products that will appeal to all income levels. Allow your brand to infiltrate society through large and small-ticket items. Consider selling your products on different auction sites, like eBay. This will permit you to compete with resellers. eCommerce luxury retailers must strive to fill longer consideration times with persuasive support that meets the informational and emotional needs of the consumer.

Mobile Media Usage

We live in a mobile age. Everyone and everything is connected. Mobile media's portable browsing capabilities have driven competitive pricing, allowing consumers to quickly compare prices on virtually any product sold online or in stores. But mobile devices can also service retailers by collecting data on online shopping behavior.


Emerging new technologies offer options for online retailers beyond traditional search based, web networks or emails. For example, Near Field Communication Devices (NFD) can collect data from consumers entering a proximity zone, transmitting information about them and their devices' specifications. These chips can be embedded in various types of media and products themselves. Similarly, QR codes can be printed on virtually any printed media from newspaper ads to billboards can collect and transmit data with special software used to interpret a URL to refer to a product on your website. If you have items that may be interesting to a particularly defined geographic group of buyers (for instance Super Bowl paraphernalia), you could partner with GPS services or location-based platforms like foursquare to identify when different groups of consumers are entering specific areas.

Using these more traditional mediums infused with this new highly customized data may be a way to offer special promotions to consumers previously not considering your services.
Imagine someone conducting a Google search on his or her Smartphone for bowling alleys, and, among other local businesses, your website pops up with a special coupon for bowling accessories. Or, how about partnering with a physically distributed magazine with a mini version of a catalog with separate QR codes on it? They are now embedding NFD tags into stickers which can be placed on products. This might be a great way to ensure that your site gets the accessory purchase or order if consumers know they can simply scan their existing product for refills, consumable replacements or product upgrades.

Social Media Usage

Humans are innately social. We want to communicate. We want to make connections. Platforms like Facebook and Twitter don't make people social; they simply create venues for rapid connections driven by innate human interest. According to a 2011 RichRelevance Online Consumer Report study examining online shopping behavior, Twitter boasted the highest average order value for customers who purchased through their platform. Additionally, it claimed that site traffic directed through Facebook increased 92% over 2010.


If you don't already have a social media presence, it's time to establish one. Use social media sites to showcase your company's human side by offering special discounts and contests, promoting your employees, and offering ad-enabled games and price-comparison widgets. Make all of your content shareable to increase your brand exposure. And of course, consider establishing a companion store on your social media site using an application like UltraCart's Facebook Store.

Rethink Shopping Cart Abandonment

A clickz.com survey published in September of 2011 analyzed the online shopping behavior of more than 600,000 people and 250,000 transactions to better understand shopping cart abandonment. Their conclusion: Not all abandonment is bad. They discovered that 42% of abandoned carts were left by "serial abandoners"­– those who had abandoned more than once in the previous 28 days. Interestingly, 45% of this group will buy when remarketed. This thwarts the 18% who only abandoned once. When the serial abandoners buy, they spend 55% more than the single abandoners.

What does this mean? It appears abandonment is merely a step in the consideration process for many consumers. It isn't always evidence of a brand rejection. The study also showed that 75% of abandoners will return to your site.


This online shopping behavior assessment is good news for online retailers. Email remarketing campaigns may be effective for shopping cart abandoners. Implement permanent shopping carts or carts that save products for at least 60 days. Any remarketing that entices consumers to return to your website increases the chances of making a sale by 300%.