Xune Business Growth Insights

eCommerce Impulse Factors: What Makes Customers Buy Online

impulse factors eCommerce

We live in a world where everything is on sale, no matter what you want to buy from everyday household items to intelligent digital marketing consultants, you’ll find a deal.

So we know that price, and more accurately the impulse factor: Greed plays a major role in whether customers make a purchase. However, it isn’t the only factor and in many ways not always the most important.

Discover the main impulse factors which come in to play, their effect on the purchase journey in your quest for reaching your eCommerce S.M.A.R.T goals.


The Impulse Factors for eCommerce


The impulse factor: Greed is often more suited to subtle gradients of value than an obvious and hefty discount. The aim in deploying this in your eCommerce offering is to assist the website visitor in believing without question that your product or service offers value for time and/or money.


Life-enhancing vs currency exchange

We are all greedy for more, perhaps not a nice thought, or perhaps it’s one which is new to you. However, greed in the space of eCommerce takes the shape of whatever product or service your website visitor is actively researching. They have an idea in mind, a vision about how their life will be enhanced if only they had… more of… could make use of a…

Merchants who focus purely on monetary value when pricing their goods should not be surprised to find their websites frequented by bargain hunters and may struggle over the long term to hold at a price point which remains profitable.


Ask Yourself This Question…

“What are the main hopes, desires and immediate aspirations of the visitors who frequent your website?”

Further reading:

Why creating a buyer persona boosts your eCommerce business


Fear of Loss

Fear of loss, is greater than the need to gain. We all have an innate desire for self-preservation, and in eCommerce, a potential customer may perceive a loss as being a product which doesn’t live up to its billing, paying over the odds or even fear of missing out on a deal – enter stage right, Black Friday chaos.

Savvy merchants may seek to allay a customer’s fear of completing the transaction while also highlighting that today’s price really is the best it’s going to get for a long while.

However, caution should be exercised not to overplay this particular impulse factor. Fear is never a nice feeling to have and merchants can gain more customer loyalty by making their customers feel looked after and valued rather than strong-armed into buying right now.


Keeping up with the Jones’s


In a world where every answer it at our fingertips, it makes less sense to put in the groundwork and learn all the information this world has to offer, and much more sense to follow the majority and let crowd consensus sort the good decisions from the bad. Like it or not, we’re all followers.

To what extent varies from person to person, but keeping up with the Jones’s is by far the most effective impulse factor that online merchants should leverage. From social proof to online reviews, from user-generated content to full-blown case studies. In truth, any which way eCommerce merchants can show their customers that they are not alone in making a purchase should be explored.

Sense of Urgency

Take a moment to ask yourself the last time you made a purchase sooner than preferred in order to get a better deal, perhaps a recent holiday? Can you think of a different moment in time where you didn’t buy something and later saw that the very same item was now more expensive?

When we take a step backwards it seems absurd that we still get lured in by the promise of a sale, yet in the heat of the moment, once the choice has been made to make a purchase, any one of us would choose to buy it for less money now instead of more money later.

And, just as an aside, that deflated feeling you felt when you saw the price had gone up is one of the reasons why many customers possess a fear of loss while shopping for a bargain.


Question to ask yourself

“What are the consequences that your website visitor faces if they delay their purchase?




The UK is a nation of shoppers, eCommerce has exploded and is trending up with eCommerce companies from small merchants to multinational companies posting record numbers. Despite everyone taking to the internet in record numbers we still, as a rule, don’t like being ‘sold to’, kinda ironic considering at the moment of sale how willing we are to part with our hard earned cash.

So this presents a fine balancing act which merchants who seek to implement the Art of Impulse need to navigate. While treading the tightrope one foot seeks to put your best foot forward and request the sale with strong positive calls to actions. The other seeks to guide and advise your website visitor in a low pressure calm and assured manner, moving a curious surfer into an informed buyer.

A hard act to pull off, but one which rewards well when the right balance is struck.


Perceived Safety


According to the Guardian newspaper, in 2017. 978m global victims lost £130bn due to cybercrime. And while you can be sure that all of that was certainly not due to online shopping, there are still very present and obvious dangers for those who choose to electronically send payment details via the internet.

Small signs of trust go a long way, the little padlock denoting SSL security in the top left corner of the browser, clear and obvious declarations of how you treat their data. In the world of eCommerce, offering payment gateways such as PayPal or Klarna can help to reduce checkout friction due to low trust.




Go forth and impulse!

The words contained on this page are not merely a theory, they are truths that have been used again and again in real-world applications including showrooms, door-to-door, B2B, B2C and have merely been adapted for use online. Their existence is immediate and obvious all around us yet many eCommerce merchants are slow to put them to use, and if they do it’s through tried and tested methods rather than thinking outside the box.

Get one step ahead of your competition by studying your own website, product pages and checkout process. What things would compel you to buy and which impulse factor is being used? Set your S.M.A.R.T growth goals and then optimise your website to achieve them.

Conduct market segmentation and keyword research and try to get inside the head of your customer to understand which factors are already at play. And, those which your website visitor perhaps needs to be reminded of, how are you being perceived to the outside world, and at which points do you use the Art of Impulse.


Want a Second Opinion?

If you want us to have a look over your website, or have any other questions about how we can work together, book a time in our diary or fill out our contact form.


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