How can understanding different types of online shoppers’ personalities help your business

Part 1 of a series of 4 posts on how understanding the on-site behavior of your customer – their attitudes, expectations, desires and needs - can help you improve their online shopping experience and the success of your digital business.

Just as the boutique or deli owner can read the expressions and moods of their walk-in customers, so can online retailers decode their customers’ digital body language. How? Clicktale has identified six recurring patterns of behavior, or specific “online personality types” that businesses can tap into to address that type’s unique needs and better understand online consumer behavior.

Using the 6 behaviors of online consumers to improve your chances of selling to them

1. The Wish Lister – encourage them

Who is this? She has “there-are-so-many-things-I-want-but-know-I-can’t-have” syndrome. The Wish Lister devotes lots of time and effort to picking items she wants and putting them in her shopping cart, but never buys them.

What causes this behavior? Unlike a “real-life” shopping cart, the user can add and remove items at any time. Those items will remain in the cart even if she leaves the site. She almost feels like she owns them, serving as consolation for the fact that she can’t afford to buy them.

How can you influence their purchasing decision? Encourage the Wish Lister to complete a purchase and get to check out by discounting one or two of the items in her cart between visits. Greet her return with a pop-up window announcing, “It’s your lucky day! Your selected item is on sale.”


When leaving an item in your cart on Zappos.com, you receive an email tailored to the Wish Lister. In it, Zappos busted the myth that I have some sort of ownership over the items in my cart by reminding me that stock is limited and somebody else could buy “my” shoes.

2. The Brand-Oriented Visitor – get emotional

Who is this? He cares deeply about staying up to date with the latest trends and buys based solely on the fact that a product is considered a top brand. His online interaction centers on playing with the product, switching its colors, and examining its different accessories.

What causes this behavior? He’s an impulse buyer. The trigger for his purchase is emotional arousal, so he tries out different colors and accessories to imagine how it would feel to own the product. He gives less weight to rational decision-making parameters like price and ease of use.

How can you influence their purchasing decision? Communicate with his emotional side. Hide product information behind tabs rather than making him read through detailed information that may cause him to second-guess the purchase. This encourages impulse buys.


Burberry has perfected their user interface for the Brand-Oriented Visitors shopping for leather bags. Their site allows users to play with different colors and see how they would look carrying such a bag on their shoulders. The product description and details are available to those who want them, but they are hidden so as to not interfere or cause the visitor to second-guess the purchase.

3. The Rational Visitor – give details

Who is this? Her two-step purchasing decision process involves (a) rejecting options that don’t meet her most important criterion - usually price - and (b) using cost/benefit analysis to choose from the remaining alternatives.

What causes this behavior? She relies on objective observation and factual analysis to make decisions. Logic is her basis for action.

How can you influence their purchasing decision? Provide all the information she needs to make a calculated decision. Offer detailed information about, for example, the comparative features of different smartphones.


Samsung speaks to Rational Visitors on their siteby comparing their flagship product to that of their competitor.

4. The Maximizer – limit yourself

Who is this? He is obsessed with making the absolute best choice out of all available options. He reads through every single product listing from the top to the bottom of the page before making his selection.

What causes this behavior? The Maximizer is excessively worried about making a bad purchasing decision. He often becomes so paralyzed with anxiety that he doesn’t buy anything. When he does, he generally feels a bit frustrated with his decision.

How can you influence the purchasing decision? Intelligently limit the number of options presented, using such methods as filtering, limiting each row to five items, and providing a default or “suggested” purchase.


Amazon optimizes for Maximizers by offering many filtering options, showing “Top Rated” items and “Most Wished For.” For example, Amazon narrows down the options shown to Maximizers shopping for transparent tape and offers these suggestions.

5. The Satisficer - filter

Who is this? He is the opposite of the Maximizer. He chooses the first product that satisfies his minimum or immediate needs. He starts at the top of the page, begins scrolling down and immediately stops and purchases he finds his match.

What causes this behavior? The Satisficer doesn’t want to waste hours looking for the best possible option. So, he acts when his criteria are met.

How can you influence the purchasing decision? Offer filters that allows him to drill down to the relevant options. Arrange listings by brand, purpose or mood.


When shopping Fab.com for sunglasses, Satisficers can narrow the options by price range, designer, product features, and color. This way, they can quickly find the sunglasses they are looking for, make a purchase, and continue with their day.

6. The Hesitator – be rewarding

Who is this? She fills out an online registration form or places desired items in a shopping cart, only to have second thoughts when reaching the call-to-action (CTA) button. She spends a lot of time clicking on different tabs and hovering over the CTA, as if waiting for the site to persuade her to click.

What causes this behavior? The Hesitator wants to avoid risk and tends to be confused by too many choices.

How can you influence the purchasing decision? The Hesitator needs all the rewards she can get to carry on with the purchasing process until she finally checks out. She must be completely convinced she’s making the right decision. Use positive wording, for example, the subscription page might welcome her with “You are one step away from joining our high-level community”.

Smart businesses are understanding the need to read and respond to their prospects’ digital body language that is revealed through online activities such as browsing behavior, click-through rates, hesitation, scrolling and more. Tracking this behavior enables companies to quickly identify their buyers’ psychological needs and better assist them through the decision-making process.

In the next post in this series, you can read about how differences in the cognitive styles of men vs. women can impact your online business, or you can download the white paper now. To read more about this topic and to download all four white papers in this series, click here

Interested in how Clicktale can help you improve the customer experience on your website, mobile site and apps, for all buyer personalities? Request a demo.

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