4 Types of Shoppers and How to Appeal to All of Them

Align your sales strategy to your customers – and their shopping behaviors.
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Each customer has their own unique shopping strategy — evolve your tactics to match theirs. (Photo: MintImages/Shutterstock)

Retail is an ever-changing landscape. As consumers change the way they shop, business owners must adapt their sales techniques to new consumer behaviors. Whether customers are pre-shopping online, buying on impulse or chasing down a deal, knowing how to cater to each shopper type can help boost your bottom line.

Here are a few examples of common types of customers you may see in your store and tips on how to adjust your sales strategy for each.

The bargain hunter

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According to Naomi Coleman, creative director of Access by NKC, bargain shoppers value their money over their time and are willing to spend time searching for deals before making a purchase. (Photo: Naomi Coleman)

This person has spent a significant amount of time hunting down deals, scouring coupon books and looking online for promo codes.

These consumers “value their money over their time, as sometimes bargain shopping can become time consuming and involve patience,” said Naomi Coleman, creative director at retail PR firm Access by NKC. “Bargain shoppers often tend to wait for the end of each season or holiday for leftover stock.”

Couponing and price-matching can be an effective strategy for these shoppers. Discounts and promotions are the best way to lure them into your store, so make sure they know when you have a sale going on.

“Bargain hunters won’t be satisfied unless they believe they are paying noticeably less than what others are paying,” said Bruce Sanders, consumer psychologist and author of “Retailer’s Edge: Boost Profits Using Shopper Psychology.” “In fact, bargain hunters’ decision to purchase a product can be largely based on a surprisingly low price, even if they don’t need the item right now.”

And since these people love a deal, invite them to join your customer loyalty program. This can help them feel that continuing to shop at your store “pays off.”

The informed consumer

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Like bargain shoppers, informed shoppers value their money or time and spend hours studying online reviews before deciding to make a purchase. (Photo: Igor Kardasov/Shutterstock)

While almost all shoppers do some research before they buy, it pales in comparison to the thorough investigation of the “informed shopper.” They have studied consumer rating sites and online reviews to learn as much as they can about the product or service they’re looking for.

Like the bargain hunter, informed shoppers know how to get the most for their money, said Coleman. “However, you’ll find that the informed shopper will sacrifice spending money when it comes to quality. Informed shoppers will research all products; if it so happens that a certain brand is more expensive, but products have proven to be long lasting or have a better warranty, they may opt to spend more money, where the bargain shopper is most concerned with immediate savings.”

To help this type of shopper pull the trigger on a purchase, Coleman said to give them all the information they need to make a decision. “Create demo videos to explain products, include article reviews from influencers and other outlets and monitor your customer reviews. The informed shopper looks for all of this information before a purchase.”

If this customer comes into your physical store, have your “ammo” ready. When they ask you to compare your product versus a competitor’s, you should have an arsenal of reasons why your product is the superior one, citing examples and specifications.

The impulse buyer

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Impulse shoppers make purchases when they see things they want, regardless of price. (Photo: imtmphoto/Shutterstock)

“Impulse buyers value time over money, spending as they see things they want, regardless of price,” explained Coleman. According to a study from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, impulsive buying generates an estimated $4 billion in the U.S. each year.

To appeal to this buyer type, point out products that are unique and novel. Placing these items at the checkout counter and finding opportunities to upsell will allow you to play to this shoppers’ impulsive nature. This is exactly the kind of shopper most likely to “give in” and make the purchase.

Taylor Burre, owner of Southern Aquatics Local Fish Store in Roswell, Georgia, said that targeting these shopper’s impulsive nature works. “When we have items or even tanks set up at the counter, people are immediately drawn to them. They either came in for something different or nothing at all, but end up [leaving] with something that was on the counter.”

The online shopper

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To appeal to online shoppers, create a small business website that is efficient and easy to use. (Photo: Blend Images/Shutterstock)

Whether tied to their smartphones in a store or scouring the web for product comparisons, this consumer is always online.

“The online shopper will take their time [researching] online before making a purchase,” said Coleman. However, unlike bargain hunters, online shoppers are more concerned with saving time than money. “They are not always looking for the sale, but will research brands with least problematic products to reduce the risk of returns.”

Since so much of their buying time is spent on the web, online shoppers want your small business website to be as easy to use as possible. Give them robust search functionality, and offer the ability to filter and sort by color, style, etc. Be sure to include detailed product dimensions and descriptions. The goal here to get these shoppers to what they want in as few clicks as possible, so focus on making your site straightforward and user-friendly.

Keep in mind, these “shopper types” are labeled somewhat fluidly. An online shopper may also indulge in impulse purchases, for instance. Just make sure you’ve got your bases covered and know how to respond to different consumer behaviors if you want to effectively raise your bottom line.

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