Knowing What Your Shoppers Want Before They Do

When most people visit a digital store, they are trying to either buy or shop.

A buyer knows exactly what they want. They’ve already done their research and they’re ready to push the button and order that flat screen TV. All it takes is finding the best price and a shipping deal that will have it at their doorstep in time for tomorrow’s game. Yep. Modern eCommerce has made buying a cake walk.

But Shopping is another animal. And eCommerce still has a lot of catching up to do in this department.

Shopping is that thing you do as a consumer when you know you want something, but you just aren’t completely sure what it is. If you walk into a brick and mortar store, a good sales associate can (almost magically) turn you into a buyer. And much of how they do it is by anticipating what you want before you do. This is based on a combined knowledge of what they are learning about you and the store’s inventory.

For example, you’re greeted by a sales associate when you walk into an apparel store. You ask her about flannel and mention you’re heading on a ski trip. After showing you just a couple of options, she knows that you prefer earthy colors over bright, you’re a size medium, and even though you’re on a budget, you like nice things. Within about sixty seconds, the associate has figured out what items in the store’s inventory will get you excited (a charcoal cashmere scarf that’s on sale, a brown flannel shirt, a pair of thick socks, etc.). She knows what you want before you do.

Can eCommerce do this?

The answer is yes, but most digital stores aren’t coming anywhere close. While they’re crushing it in the buying department, they are missing the boat when it comes to helping shoppers. It’s actually very possible today for digital retailers to know what their shoppers want before the shoppers themselves do. This isn’t mind reading techniques or mysticism, we are simply using data. Data that’s sitting right in front of you. The key is to know how to leverage this data in real time and respond to it with content and merchandise that’s right in line with what will get each of your specific shoppers excited at the individual level.


Stafford McKay

Stafford is the former Director of Content at Reflektion. He’s passionate about eCommerce Marketing, Technology, and Lake Michigan. When he’s not writing content, he can be found out on the water in the 1938 Chris Craft he shares with his family.