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How the Brain Shops, and Why It Likes Online Shopping

April 1, 2013

Hopefully by now, it's becoming common knowledge in our industry that our customers (mostly women) are spending their shopping time online. Instead of beating a dead horse and discussing that fact in more depth, with this blog post I'd like to explore a little more about the ‘why?' factor: Why is she shopping online?

She's shopping online for a number of reasons, but here are the top drivers:
• It's convenient and suits a busy woman's lifestyle (she can shop whenever and wherever she wants especially a work).
• It's socially connected and she can get input from her social network on all kinds of purchases.
• It has all kinds of information available at the click of a button (women hunger for information and transparency of it).

I've come across another reason - one that explains the psychology behind online shopping. Weeks ago, I came across this interesting info-graphic at GetElastic.com, about the way the brain works with shopping. It goes into the ‘pain of spending', saying that, "Spending doesn't just hurt your wallet. Studies show that it actually causes psychological pain ... [but] we can reduce the pain we feel as a result of spending by minimizing the actual feeling of spending."

To that end, why is online shopping less painful than shopping in a physical store?

According to the info-graphic, "The click of a [button] reduces the ache of paying, and you don't even need to look in your wallet." Online shopping - apart from being much easier, more convenient, and more informed than driving from store to store - also causes less pain to the customer because she can click the "Buy" button and purchase in an instant, sometimes without even opening her wallet. To compound that decrease in pain, websites and e-commerce is constantly growing and changing with the user's experience driving how they do business.

Physical retail stores and manufacturers of home décor products are too far behind this change, and it's time to catch up. Knowing that she prefers shopping online for its ease, flexibility, and lower level of pain on the shopper's psyche, manufacturers and retailers in home décor should be tripping over each other to get online and access these customers. We're not quite to that point.

It's been slow going, but more and more, I'm hearing about how leaders in our industry are recognizing the importance of bringing their brands to the online marketplace. Let's accelerate that change, and take the steps necessary to first alleviate our consumers' pain through online integration, and second, through a fantastic user experience with home décor products and ideas.