Getting to Know Your eCommerce Customers

Whether you are planning to launch a new online store, new product lines, or an entirely new business, you need to know who your target consumers are and how to reach them.

These seven questions will help with that understanding.

  • Why do customers buy from you and not a competitor?
  • How often do they shop for the type of products or services you sell?
  • Do they prefer to buy online or in a physical store?
  • How price tolerant are they?
  • Are they influenced by fashion, price, and free shipping?
  • Do they shop using search engines, comparison-shopping sites, or because of social media referrals?
  • Are your products “must have” or simply “nice to have"?

The answers to those questions and many more should help you determine your marketing and sales strategies.

Market Segmentation and Targeting

Before you seek to understand your customers start with researching the overall size of the market for the products you are selling. It will help you identify your real target customers if you look at the whole market.

The next step is segment the market into similar buying groups. Look at submarkets by age, income, gender, location, or any number of other approaches. For example, if you are selling cosmetics - the teen segment, 20-something segment, and over-50 segment are different in their desires and their shopping habits and product preferences.

It may be difficult to acquire customers in any of those market segments if you try to attract all customers with one online store or product line. The goal with market segmentation is to group potential buyers into a segment that is likely to have similar buying tastes and habits. Even that can be challenging. But there is a lot of free information on the Internet.

You can also evaluate competitive sites already selling into those markets by analyzing their demographics, traffic, and the types of search marketing strategies that they employ.

Once you have identified discrete market segments, select one or more target markets to pursue. This process includes understanding what products those consumers are seeking, how they will shop, how much they are willing to pay, and so on.

Your target market will determine your products, site design and advertising strategies. I’ve always been a fan of niche stores that are very tightly aligned with a specific target market. You can also set up different shops within a larger store to accomplish the same thing.

Don’t forget to re-evaluate your market from time to time, as demographics and market behavior changes over time. Any major drop in business, which you see year after year, can be an indicator that you need to look at the market again.