Why Women Shop Online

Do women shop the same way online as they shop offline?  Do they have the same needs, questions, buying process?  Is what’s most important to them offline also what’s most important to them online?

Not all women love to shop.   But there are certainly quite a few who do.   There is something unique about actually being in a store, feeling, touching, trying on, getting new ideas.   There’s something about that environment that women truly enjoy.   

So – for the women who truly love the shopping experience – if they shop online instead of offline, there is usually a reason for it.   There is something that the online experience offers that the offline does not.   There is a reason why she is on the Internet and not in a store.   Understanding what that reason is is absolutely key for making your site successful.

So what are the main reasons women shop online?

         To save time

         To get a better selection

         To research a product

         To get a better value

         Anonymity

         Logistics – i.e.  there isn’t a branch of the store near her, she’s buying a gift and it’s easier to buy and send online than buy offline and have to wrap it and go to the post office. 

Here’s an example:  Heather wants to buy a bikini.   

Any woman will tell you bathing suits are notoriously hard to fit – you really must try it on to see if it’s going to work or not.  So why would Heather, much less any other woman, buy a bikini online?

To save time.   Heather is crazy busy.   She does not have time to drive all over town to God knows how many stores trying to find a bathing suit she likes.  Online she could hit 5 stores in a matter of minutes.  She can’t do that offline.

To get a better selection.  Heather is big on the top and small on the bottom.  Regular bikinis that come in sizes of small, medium, large – don’t work for her.  The bathing suit bottoms are too big and the tops are too small.  By going to a website like Victoria’ Secret that sells tops and bottoms separately AND sells tops by bra size (so she knows exactly what size to get – no guessing)  she can get a better fitting suit.  PLUS she has a way wider selection to choose from than a regular store.   

Anonymity – Heather is a slightly larger woman.   She is somewhat self conscious about buying a bikini and doesn’t want some size 2 sales woman to give her that “ohmigod you are NOT taking a bikini into your dressing room” look.  She can also try it on in the comfort of her own home so any unintentional screams of horror will terrorize only the cat instead of shoppers in departments 4 doors down.   

In order to gain these three benefits of shopping online, Heather is willing to put up with the hassle of perhaps having to return something that doesn’t fit.  NOTE: Make it really easy for Heather to return a product – have pre-filled out shipping labels so returning something is as low-hassle as possible.

Understand these motivations for shopping online – especially the saving time option.   Help her get to where she needs to go quickly.   When she shops online, she has a specific task in mind.  Help her accomplish it easily.   Women are not patient online.  They will not browse for hours exploring every nook and cranny of your website.  She is in a different buying mode.  She is task oriented. 

Putting the milk at the back of the grocery store may make sense.  She is forced to walk through aisles of stuff that may not be on her list, but that she will hopefully put into her cart.   Making it a little more difficult to accomplish her task in a store makes some sense in that she isn’t likely to abandon her task, walk back to her car, and drive another 15 minutes to another grocery store to see if their milk is easier to find.

But online, that strategy can backfire.  She can’t find what she wants easily – you send her through lots of stuff she didn’t come for first?   One click and she’s in the next store in half a second.     

Take the time to understand your customers and how their buying process online is different from their buying process offline.   Understand how and why she uses the Internet and accommodate her online buying needs.   

This entry was posted in How women use the web, Marketing to women done well, Stereotypes of women in the media and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Why Women Shop Online

  1. Thank you. It never ceases to amaze me how many sites I get onto who have kinks and quirks in their conversion process. The other day I was trying to register for a 3 day spa vacation contest at BC’s famous Wickinninish Inn on the Clear FM radio website. What a nightmare. Unbelievably so when you figure they are probably the number one listened to station in Vancouver. I, being their number one target audience (female boomer) tried three times and was dead-ended every one. The ONLY reason I kept trying is I would like nothing better than to take my mom (mother of female boomer) there with me.

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  4. Angela says:

    I LOVE to shop online! I don’t have time to google promotional coupon codes or anything like that, so I use http://www.dealtaker.com Their deals are always good and they have the full list of current codes. By the end of the year, I have a ton of deals to give for Christmas presents and I know I saved a TON! Occasionally, I’m looking for something in particular and it’s not on sale. Then I use http://www.pricetaker.com and that lets me see where it’s online the cheapest and any codes I can use. Saves me a TON and now I don’t have to buy bikinis in the store anymore, either 😛

  5. bhawna says:

    read ur article..i am a research scholar from gorakhpur(INDIA) studying the impact of online and teleshopping on women.wud like to know abt your opinion or any of your studies on this topic.i would appreciate your cooperation.
    thanking you
    bhawna

  6. Women like going to the stores to shop and search for the things they need.But nowadays when we don’t have so much time it’s normal that more and more women start shopping online.This way they save time and can do something else in this time.

  7. Lip-Sticking says:

    We Are The Net: Women Online

    Women outnumber men online. So reports tell us. This is not news. What women do online isn’t really news, either. We research family health. We compare products and visit comparison shopping sites. We shop. We connect via our blogs. We socialize. Ah! T…

  8. Nicky says:

    Selling online to women is very difficult. Women like to touch and hold items. If they could they would pick up every item in a shop.
    My company SPIN-VR is helping to create a medium that makes online shopping for women more interesting and tries to bring the online shopping experience closer to the experience of shopping in a store. We create virtual products, that customers can ‘hold’ online. It brings the customer closer to the object and allows for better decision making about choosing items.

  9. Helping women in finding great products is like helping men to pickup beautiful women. This is indirect connection with a sense of transparency.
    See, women want products that will improve their lifestyle. Something that will help them to relax, feel better about themselves and gaining confidence.
    In contrast, most men suffer unpredictable consequences when they cannot have the women of their dreams for some reason. But when they get it, it is the same result of satisfaction when women find great products on-line.

  10. Helping women in finding great products is like helping men to pickup beautiful women. This is indirect connection with a sense of transparency.
    See, women want products that will improve their lifestyle. Something that will help them to relax, feel better about themselves and gaining confidence.
    In contrast, most men suffer unpredictable consequences when they cannot have the women of their dreams for some reason. But when they get it, it is the same result of satisfaction when women find great products on-line.

  11. Well, for me, the only reason why I go online shopping is to save time. I am such a busy person. I don’t have time to shop offline. Anyway, I enjoyed reading your post. Thanks for sharing this informative post.
    -seff-

  12. thanks for this great write up. Now I know why its so important to have the product in the “front of the store” when selling online.

  13. The main reason why my girl loves shopping online is that it saves a lot more time, and it’s pretty convenient. I also like shopping online because the items are delivered right at my doorstep, and rare items from online auctions can be found

  14. Blakbutyinmi says:

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    If they approach the subject site Nonone.com – Adult community
    Section page of the company http://nonone.com/pages/
    Section services or products http://nonone.com/marketplace/
    I apologize if you wrote the wrong topic.

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