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Consumer Buyer Behaviour: Part 2 The online consumer decision making process

The online consumer decision making process is influenced by many external and internal factors. The diagram below highlights all aspects of the consumer decision making process in a general sense:  

Decision Making Process
Decision Making Process

When it comes to the online consumer decision making process I think we can simplify it into two major steps. The first is the screening of accessible products to figure out which ones are worth considering. The second is being able to compare products chosen in step one in order to decide which one you actually want. Let’s apply this two step process with an example to better understand it.

Online consumer decision making process - Step 1

Imagine you are looking to buy a new coffee machine online. Your first action might be to simply google it, by typing in: “buy coffee machine online” into your browser.  You find yourself with an overwhelming amount of options.  The way Google presents these options is not necessarily appealing for everybody. Even if you are able to specify your search, the recommendation agent (which allows consumers to more efficiently screen the set of alternatives available within an online shopping environment) and comparison matrix (which is designed to help consumers to make informed comparisons among those alternatives) on the Google shopping platform is limiting, compared with other websites. The article, Consumer Decision Making in Online Shopping Environments by Häubl and Trifts stipulates consumers that do not find a product appealing within the first seconds - whether it is because of the product itself or the way it is presented - will quickly go to another website.


coffee machine google
coffee machine google

You are probably thinking about going to check these coffee machines on Amazon or eBay now am I right? so let's check out these alternative shopping channels:


coffee machine Amazon
coffee machine Amazon
coffee machine eBay
coffee machine eBay

As you compare the different shopping channels, you can definitely notice the layouts and pictures on Amazon and eBay are of much better quality than on Google. This eases the screening of accessible products and makes the first step of online shopping much more comfortable for the consumers. Easing the first step reinforce consumers’ trust: they think they’re in the right place, making well-informed and therefore empowered choices

“Trust creates comfort, and comfort leads to sales”.

A good layout is not the only way to establish trust in your website. Convincing a social influencer to endorse your brand is an efficient approach to make your products trustworthy. If you remember, “we subconsciously follow the herd”. Moreover, endorsements have been recognized to encourage shoppers to step outside their comfort zone. Reviews are also another mean to reinforce trust in your website.

Online consumer decision making process - Step 2

The device that is probably the most efficient to establish trust for online shopper is a comparison matrix: an interactive tool assisting consumers in making in-depth comparisons among several alternatives. If your online shopper is enabled by your website to compare products (price, size colours etc) then he/she will be convinced that you have nothing to hide. Once again you are making their online shopping experience easier, and consumers will reward you with repeat purchase!

Quick Facts

US consumers only choose consciously about 50% of the things that end up in their cart. The rest of the items in there are the result of shopping subconsciously.”Beyondphilosophy.com

“90% of people make occasional impulsive purchases, men spend more money on impulse buys than women: men spend approximately $41 per impulse buy versus $31 for women.” mediascopeinc.wordpress.com

4 summary tips...

  • Make sure your website lays out your product assortment in a well-designed visually appealing manner. It might cost you more at the beginning but it is absolutely worth it in the long term.
  • Ensure your manage your product categories and attributes well. Don't over-categorize. It can cause too much restriction and limit the amount of products a consumer can consider. Do make use of product attributes, filters or tags, which allow you to ensure you create a really strong comparison matrix
  • Invest in technologies to get reviews and make sure to post them on your website. Yotpo, TrustPilot and Feefo are all commonly used, each with their own advantages.
  • Create a suggestion box of related products for your online shopper and lay it in strategic places like the product page or cart page. Ideally you should use a product recommendations algorithm to make the suggestions as opposed to what you think the customer might like.