E-Commerce: The Importance of Website Design

By Christopher Zoukis

Many affluent customers are influenced to make impulsive purchases of luxury goods or services by a number of factors. Why? Because even though they are rich, they are still human and they sometimes feel insecure, need acceptance, and desire recognition. According to research done by User Interface Engineering (UIE), impulse purchases made by affluent customers account for 40% of all online purchases. In determining what motivated such purchases, UIE made a fascinating discovery. Price was not the explanation. The explanation was found to be the way the website was designed.

UIE defined impulse buying as any spontaneous purchase. In other words, the online shopper bought something they had not intended to buy. Prior to the UIE research, most marketers believed the primary motivation for impulse buying was attributable to price. This belief was based on previous surveys done by The Yankee Group and Ernst & Young. Both surveys asked buyers why they made spontaneous purchases. Of those surveyed, 75% stated that a “sale price” had motivated them to buy something they had not planned on buying. Free shipping motivated 49% of online shoppers to make an impulse purchase. The conclusion was obvious: online shoppers made unexpected purchases because of perceived savings. Impulse buying was price-motivated.  Image courtesy masternewmedia.org

UIE disagreed with these results and decided to do their own research. Rather than asking people why they had made impulsive purchases, UIE observed people as they actually shopped online. UIE’s reasoning was that if online shoppers were actually making spontaneous purchases, the behavior should be discernible.

The results? Of affluent online shoppers, 34% made impulsive purchases, and spent 39% of their money on the impulsive purchases. Only 8% of the impulsive purchases could be traced to the price of the items bought. In other words, very few of the affluent shoppers were motivated by price when making impulsive purchases.

What did motivate the purchases? The UIE study indicated the primary motivating factor was awareness. When the affluent shoppers saw an item, they became aware of it. Awareness led to impulsive buying.

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