Blog: Stages of the buying process

In this text, we will focus on the psychology of shopping behavior and how it can be utilized for more effective marketing and sales. Shopping is not just a matter of basic needs but also of hidden emotions and motivations that influence our decisions.

  • Published:
    16. October 2023
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In this article, we will explore the psychology of shopping behavior and how it can be effectively utilized for better marketing and sales. Purchasing decisions depend not only on basic needs but also on hidden emotions and motivations that influence customer choices.

Imagine a typical autumn day when people are looking for winter coats. Their decision is not just about necessity but often driven by emotions like the fear of cold. We shop for higher principles, passion, or personal beliefs, and to initiate this process, we need something that motivates us – for example, an advertisement offering a discount on insulated coats until a certain date.

Customers don’t buy just out of need but primarily due to emotions and passion. To lead a customer to purchase, we must evoke the initial impulse to action, which can be achieved through advertising, often offering discounts in our region.


1) Shopping Impulse

The shopping impulse is the first step in the shopping process. In this phase, the customer realizes they have a need that needs to be satisfied. This need can be physical, like the need for food or clothing, or emotional, like the desire for self-realization. The shopping impulse can be triggered by various factors, such as:

  1. Immediate need: The customer realizes they need something they don’t have. For example, if you lose a shoelace, you suddenly need to buy a new one.
  2. Inspiration: The customer sees or hears about a product or service that interests them. For example, when you see an advertisement for a new mobile phone, you may feel the impulse to buy it.
  3. Emotions: The customer feels happy, sad, or frustrated and wants to buy something to feel better. For example, when you achieve a specific goal, you may buy a gift as a reward.

Merchants can use these factors to evoke shopping impulses in customers in various ways, most commonly through:

  1. Direct advertising: Advertising can show customers that they need a product or service.
  2. Inspiration: Merchants can inspire customers to make a purchase by providing them with creative and engaging marketing materials.
  3. Emotional factors: Merchants can target customer emotions to evoke feelings of happiness, satisfaction, or self-realization. The shopping impulse is a crucial step in the shopping process. Eliciting shopping impulses in customers is the foundation for overall sales success.

2) Information Search

Information search is the second step in the shopping process. In this phase, the customer gathers information about various products and services that could satisfy their needs. Customers seek information from various sources, with the most common being:

Online sources: Customers often search for information on the internet, where they can find reviews, comparisons, and other information about products and services. Personal sources: Customers may also consult with friends, family, or experts. Commercial sources: Merchants can provide customers with information about their products and services through advertising, websites, or sales representatives. How to facilitate customer information search?

On the other hand, merchants strive to facilitate customer information search. They use various methods for this purpose, but all information should be:

  1. Easily accessible: Merchants should provide customers with easy access to information about their products and services.
  2. Clear: Information should be well-organized and easily understandable.
  3. Useful: Information should be helpful and relevant to customers.

3) Comparing Products Before Purchase

In this phase, customers compare different products or services to find the most suitable one for their needs. When comparing products, customers use various sources, most commonly:

  1. Price comparison websites: Price comparison websites allow customers to easily compare prices of products or services from different stores.
  2. Reviews: Product or service reviews provide customers with insights into the experiences of other customers.
  3. Specifications: Product or service specifications offer information about the technical features of the product or service.

Here are some tips for customers when comparing products before purchase:

  1. Define your own needs: Before comparing products, it’s important to define your specific needs. What exactly do you need? Select relevant products: Compare only the products that are relevant to you.
  2. Consider important factors: When comparing products, focus on the factors that are essential to you, such as price, quality, features, or brand.
  3. Read reviews: Read reviews to familiarize yourself with the opinions of customers who have experience with the product. Comparing products before purchase can help you gain information about which product or service you would choose.

4) Quality vs. Speed in Shopping Urgency

Today, there is a vast array of products and services available in the market. This can be an advantage for customers, but it can also be a challenge. On one hand, customers have a wide range of options; on the other hand, it’s challenging to navigate all the information.

One of the main factors that can influence a customer’s decision to make a purchase is speed. Some customers need to acquire a product or service as quickly as possible. This can be due to, for example, needing a product or service to address an urgent issue or simply wanting immediate access to it.

On the other hand, some customers are willing to wait for better quality. These customers are often willing to invest more in a product or service to ensure that it fully meets their needs and that they are satisfied with the purchase.

How to decide?

What factors do customers consider when deciding whether speed or quality is more important to them?

  • Speed: If a customer needs a product or service as quickly as possible, speed is likely more important to them than quality. In such cases, it’s important to select a merchant that offers fast delivery or their preferred carrier.
  • Quality: If a customer is willing to wait for better quality, quality is likely more important to them than speed. In such cases, they will carefully consider various options and choose a product or service that meets their needs.

When is speed more important than quality?

Speed is more important than quality in the following cases:

  1. When a customer needs a product or service to address an urgent issue.
  2. When a customer wants to have immediate access to a product or service.
  3. When a customer has a limited budget. When is quality important, and when is speed?

When is the quality more important than speed?

Quality is more important than speed in the following cases:

  1. When a customer wants a product or service that fully meets their needs.
  2. When a customer has enough time for shopping.
  3. When a customer can afford to invest in quality.

Speed and quality are important factors to consider when making a purchase decision. It depends on the specific situation which factor is more important to the customer.

5) Merchant Selection and Making the Purchase

Comparing products and considering factors like speed and quality before making a purchase represents an important step in the shopping process. Once a customer decides on the product or service that best suits their needs, the most crucial phase begins: selecting the right merchant who offers such a product or service.

Merchant Selection

When choosing a merchant, the customer considers several factors, including:

  1. Price: Prices of products and services may vary among different merchants. Customers compare prices to find the best possible offer.
  2. Quality: The quality of products and services can also differ among different merchants. Customers read reviews to learn about the experiences of other customers.
  3. Experience: Some merchants have more experience than others. Customers are more likely to choose a merchant with a good track record in selling the product or service they want.
  4. Support: Some merchants offer better customer support than others. Customers take into account the level of support that is important to them. Making the Purchase

If a customer selects a merchant, it’s time to make the purchase. There are several ways to make a purchase, with the most common being:

  1. Online: Many merchants offer the option to shop online. This is a convenient way to shop, allowing customers to make purchases at any time and from anywhere.
  2. In person: Many merchants have physical stores where customers can shop in person. This allows customers to try out the product or service before buying. Merchant selection and making the purchase are essential steps in the shopping process. Customers carefully consider their options to ensure they acquire the product or service that meets their needs.

6) Post-Purchase Satisfaction

After purchasing a product or service, the post-purchase satisfaction phase begins. Customers expect that the product or service will meet their expectations and needs. If it doesn’t, it can lead to unpleasant experiences and a decrease in trust in the merchant.

To ensure customer satisfaction, a merchant can take several steps, such as:

  1. Quality product or service: Providing a high-quality product or service that fulfills the customer’s expectations.
  2. Communication: Maintaining open and clear communication with the customer can help address problems or questions and contribute to a positive experience.
  3. Customer support: Offering fast and efficient customer support in case of issues or questions can strengthen customer trust.
  4. Satisfaction monitoring: Measuring customer satisfaction and gathering feedback helps identify areas for improvement and address specific customer issues.
  5. Loyalty programs: Creating a loyalty program that rewards customers for their loyalty can encourage repeat purchases.

Customer satisfaction is a key element of business success. When customers feel satisfied and have positive experiences, they are more likely to become loyal customers and recommend the business to others.

In Conclusion

Understanding the psychology of customer shopping behavior can be key to success for website operators, e-commerce businesses, and other small entrepreneurs. Customers don’t only buy based on rational needs but also on emotions and motivations. Eliciting shopping impulses, facilitating information search, considering factors like speed and quality, selecting the right merchant, and caring for post-purchase satisfaction represent all the essential aspects of the shopping process.

The ability to view shopping from the customer’s perspective, respond to their needs, and offer quality products and services can help small businesses build strong customer relationships and achieve success in the market.

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