Top 5 Valuable Insights on Online Consumer Buying Behavior

E-commerce has brought about a fundamental shift in the way consumers shop.

According to research data from in 2016 “An estimated 1.61 billion people worldwide purchased goods online amounting to a staggering 1.9 trillion US dollars in sales”. This trend is getting stronger with a projected sales value of 4.06 trillion US dollars by the year 2020.

In an incessant contest for people’s attention, e-commerce enterprises today are coming up with innovative marketing and sales strategies to create customer experiences like never before. The cornerstone of these strategies is customer data, demographic and behavioral which is being leveraged through the use of advanced analytical tools to gain an in-depth understanding of the customer’s shopping behavior.

e-commerce inherently makes it easier to collect customer data compared to traditional shopping. Right from the moment a customer lands on your store website, you can track each click and page view. This data can provide profound insights into the kind of engagement your store is generating and the purchase journey taken by your customers. These insights can empower you to influence your customer’s actions by understanding the underlying motivations, attitudes, and behavioral patterns. In fact, this understanding can be a sustainable long-term strategic differentiator leading to a higher market share for e-commerce enterprises. Here is a list of Top 5 Valuable Insights from the Study of Online Consumer Buying Behavior:

1. Understanding the Consumer’s Purchase Journey

A customer’s path to purchase is rarely linear. However, for simplifying the visualization and interpretation of the customer’s shopping journey, it can broadly be divided into two sequential stages.

Stage#1: Awareness: Today a multichannel brand presence is a basic necessity and marketing efforts need to be optimized for breaking the clutter and grabbing the customer’s attention. A clear understanding of the ‘Awareness’ stage can enable you to identify high ROI marketing channels and platforms. It allows you to build a presence on contextually relevant high converting sources of traffic and get the right message to your customers for creating the best first impression.

Stage#2: Consideration: The humongous amount of user-generated content available on digital channels and social media has made it easy for consumers to access reviews, ratings, and recommendations before buying products. Consumers are empowered to research about the products, brands, and companies. Data Analytics can help you monitor the general sentiment surrounding your brand on social media and other platforms and undertake corrective measures promptly.

Stage#3: Conversion: This is the stage where the customer decides on and executes the purchase on your store website. The right store design, discounts, payment methods and shipping options go a long way in ensuring the customer does not abandon cart or exit the store midway. Data and Ecommerce analytics empowers you to create and execute real-time offers and tweaks to enhance the client’s ordering experience.

Evaluation: The purchase journey doesn’t end at the sale. With most e-commerce stores offering easy returns, the customer decisively evaluates the product post purchase and has easy access to digital channels to post opinions, reviews, and feedback about the same. A thorough analysis of feedback can enable brands to understand customer satisfaction levels, identify store improvement areas and also a potential audience for cross-selling and upselling opportunities.

2. Insights on Consumer Attitudes and Motivations

The shift to online shopping is a result of some specific advantages that online shopping offers over traditional shopping – from a customer’s perspective. We asked customers what motivated them to click and shop and this is what we got from the responses.

According to a popular survey, it has been observed that 58% of people stated that the “Ability to Shop 24/7” has been one of the top reasons for shifting towards Online Shopping.

3. Flexible Payment Options

There are a plethora of payment methods available, and local preferences need to be taken into account while finalizing the ones for your e-store. Globally, credit cards are the most preferred payment method – more consumers use credit cards than those that use Paypal and Debit cards combined. While Paypal is widely used in more developed countries and is a close second to credit cards – except Asia where Cash on Delivery and alternative payment systems (Alipay and WeChat in China and COD in India and Russia) proliferate.

Millennials are less likely than other generations to pay with credit compared to debit cards, COD or prepaid gift cards. The key takeaway is that companies need to include both cash/debit and credit as payment options to attract younger buyers and appeal to other consumers to shop online.

4. Winning the Online Consumer

While it is evident that customers are shifting to digital channels, identifying the most crucial factors that ultimately drive conversions online requires us to delve in a bit deeper. While pricing remains the most definitive factor in purchase decisions, as customers mature towards online shopping, the demand for enhanced delivery options and easy returns is on the rise. Similarly, customers expect their orders are consolidated automatically, and services are bundled as and when relevant.

E-commerce organizations need to understand what their target segment values most and continuously align their marketing and sales strategies accordingly. To take an example, behind the success of Amazon, it provides ‘Prime’ service for customers willing to pay an additional amount for quicker delivery options. Similarly Uber started accepting cash payments in India to stay in sync with the local payment habits. The following graph summarizes the most factors influencing buying decisions for online shoppers.


58% of people shared “Relatively Low Prices” was one of the crucial factors for making online purchase decisions for them.

Insight#1: Consumers prefer brands that are transparent and they can trust

One look at the top 3 points in the above figure is enough to understand that customers demand absolute transparency when it comes to pricing, shipping, and returns.

A ‘lowest price guarantee’ is by far the greatest driver for building trust as well as generating sales. Free one day or two-day shipping (or even paid options) with a dynamic view of the shipping status is also of great value to customers.

The return policy is also a key buying decision driver. In fact, an unclear return policy is the second most common reason for cart abandonment according to a survey by ComScore. The same survey states that 53% customers were satisfied when the return policy and procedure were clear and transparent.


Insight# 2: Personalized Recommendations

Gone are the days when one-size-fits-all campaigns worked. According to an article published in “Personalization plays a pivotal role in differentiating marketing campaigns in today’s cluttered digital marketing environment”.

Personalized recommendations have the capability to boost transaction rates by almost six times, 70% of brands fail to use them to reach out and convert consumers. Consumers want store owners to curate and send recommendations that are well aligned to their shopping preferences and interests. When e-tailers can present customers with smaller assortments in tune with their preferences, these customers are happier with the experience and less likely to stray.

5. Reviews and Recommendations Matter

With the advent of Web 2.0, providing after sales service and maintaining customer satisfaction levels has assumed great significance. Enterprises know that user-generated content and reviews are predominant influencers in the purchase journey and customers are easily able to differentiate sponsored content from the same. Now wonder then, reputation management and sentiment analysis form integral parts of marketing strategies of most successful enterprises today. A look at the following figure makes it amply clear how user reviews and recommendations beat most traditional media today.

Insert Graph based on below figures

81% people made their purchase decisions based on the recommendations.

To win and retain online customers, companies need to understand the nuances of their consumers’ behaviors and predict any shifts in attitudes and preferences. E-tailers will have to find cost-effective ways of providing the service and quality that customers expect while keeping prices competitive.

Predictive Analytics help you derive these strategies oriented toward your specific business goals and beat competition. ComTec provides you with the detailed and deployable solutions  that help you identify, segment your target customers and develop product offerings. You can distinctly tailor for each unique market and consumer segment to succeed in the online revolution. With us, you are guaranteed to outperform your competitors in the market. To get in touch, email us at For more details, please visit

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