Interview with Janey Pillay, Dis-Chem Pharmacies
15th March 2017
The psychology behind online shopping behaviour
15th March 2017
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What makes people buy online?


Online shopping has seen increasing interest over the past 10 years, and keeps growing, especially in South Africa with access to more affordable internet and mobile devices. We have seen the appearance of a plethora of online stores recently offering services and goods from loans, insurance, books and home furniture to sport equipment, travel, games, beauty and fashion). But what makes people buy online? What can we do as publishers to help potential customers in their decision-making process?

Let’s go back to what we know about shopping behavior and more precisely, online shopping.

The literature on the subject agrees that there are different dimensions that could motivate a person to buy online (Science Direct & Diva Portal). The attitudes of prospective customers towards these dimensions will determine the probability of these users to buy online.

– Utilitarian Dimension: convenience, variety seeking, and the quality of merchandise, cost benefit, and time effectiveness

– Hedonist Dimension: happiness, fantasy, escapism, awakening, sensuality and enjoyment

–  Ease of use: Working site, user friendly site

– Perceived Risk: financial risk, product risk, non-delivery risk, time risk, privacy risk, information risk, social risk, etc.…

– Trust and Security

According to a traditional consumer decision model, consumer purchase decisions typically start with need awareness, then information search, alternative evaluations, decision to purchase and finally, post-purchasing behavior (MagScholar).

Once the potential customer has decided to start looking for an item, their research might take them to various online shops as well as specialised blogs, peer review and comparison sites. Once they gathered all the information they need, they will more than likely decide to go back to a site they have visited previously. If an online shop offers enough product information, is user friendly, manages to minimize the client’s risk perception (credit card fraud prevention, information theft for example), offers free delivery, a good return policy and secure transactions, there is a good chance that the sale will happen.

As a publisher, you can leverage this information and intervene in the buying process at the right time. By providing accurate information that is easy to read and writing reviews on specific products, you might just give the last push to a potential buyer who will click on your affiliate link and decide to buy on the advertised website.  It might also be important to check the advertiser’s site before and make sure you are promoting the right online shops, corresponding to your readers’ standards. A good way to test an online shop is to make a purchase yourself as you will be able to write about your experience and decide not to advertise the site if it was a bad experience for you.

If the experience was satisfying, you will be able to give all the details your readers will appreciate like website usability, pricing, payment security, delivery and returns.

By knowing your readers, providing accurate content and information that your readers want and need, you will have a better chance to convert and generate sales for your campaigns.

Best of luck!

Caroline Pourteyron – Head of Operations

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