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Running an eCommerce Business

eCommerce Essentials: What Influences A Customer's Purchase Decision?

eCommerce Essentials: What Influences A Customer's Purchase Decision?

by John Larkin

John runs the blog here at eCommerceLift and is a verified Shopify Expert. Interested in an initial growth consultation? Click here

8 years ago

eCommerce Essentials: What Influences A Customer's Purchase Decision?

Unlocking the mysteries of consumer behaviour is an interesting yet never-ending endeavour. Marketers and academics for years have tried to establish why certain customers purchase particular products and shun others even if they have almost indistinguishable characteristics. With an abundance of customers and companies now migrating online, a new wave of research has emerged trying to establish what influences customers purchase decisions within an eCommerce setting. To save you from reading a multitude of marketing journals and studies, we have put together a list of the 6 essential factors that most influence a customer’s purchase decision online today.

Customer Reviews 

It's no surprise that with the numerous online resources catered towards providing product reviews this is one of the key influences on customers purchase decisions. Customers place a lot of stock in what other customers think. In fact it has been reported that up to 90% of customers report that online reviews have influenced their purchasing of a product, a huge figure.

The numbers become even more fascinating when looking at specific online sectors. High-involvement, expensive or more complicated products such as electronics are particularly susceptible to customers searching for reviews as it is stated that 40% of online consumers wouldn't even consider buying an electronic product without reading reviews first.

Many eCommerce stores are now integrating reviews into their website to help placate customer’s unease and show what other customers think. Apps such as YotPo that easily assimilate reviews into eCommerce website can help build trustworthiness, encourages engagement and allows customers to see how valuable your eCommerce store could be for them.

Ease of Checkout 

Issues with checking out can be a massive factor in customer’s decision to purchase. In fact with 70% of shopping carts being abandoned, the problem is running rampant in the eCommerce world. Issues such as overly complicated checkouts, having to give unnecessary information, lack of payment options and hidden costs all have a negative effect on a customer’s purchase decision, making them say “thanks, but no thanks” to your eCommerce store.

Simple steps can be done to help appease customers and impact their purchase decision. Simplifying your checkout process, making all information readily available and easy to understand are all factors will influence customers purchase decision in a positive way. 

Store Layout

It has long been established that the environment and layout of a physical store has an immense influence on what customers buy. Numerous studies taking place have suggested that layout is one of the most influential aspects when customers are making a purchase decision.  It is clear to see when walking around your local supermarket that it has been designed a certain way. The bread is all the way in the back so you have to walk past every isle and the junk food is right at the checkout so you impulse buy some chocolate. All of this “real world” knowledge is now being placed into the eCommerce world as your stores website layout can be a major influence on customers purchase decisions.

It is essential for eCommerce stores to think about how customers view and use their website and make adjustments accordingly. eCommerce merchants must make their stores as ergonomically friendly as possible while also using opportunities to show customer products and information that is inviting and interesting. Using resources such as Clicktale are very helpful as they aim to access where your customer is going on your site and what they are viewing on each page. Remember though, this is an ongoing process. Customers can get bored or complacent so eCommerce stores must continually access, analyse and reconfigure their websites to make it stimulating to customers so decide to buy.

Social Media 

Social Media has become one of the most ubiquitous tools that eCommerce stores use to influence purchase decisions. By posting content that appeals to customer’s interests and lifestyle no other online platform can be used so readily by a merchant to influence customers. Research has shown that a massive 78% of customers say that companies social media impacts their purchases.

eCommerce merchants aren't the only ones who can influence customers on social media. Consumer’s peers also are swaying what they buy. One study even estimated that 77% of social media users admitted that online commentary by other users changed their minds about purchases. 

With these stats clearly demonstrating the power of social media over customers and their decisions of buy, eCommerce businesses must fully embrace social media and make it as effective as possible. Continuous updates about products and goings-on, customer engagement and monitoring of comments are all a necessity to gain those extra sales. 


Reports have suggested that personalisation and tailoring are large influencers of consumer behaviour. Stats indicated that up to 86% of shoppers said that personalisation of a shopping experience influenced their purchasing behaviour. Luckily eCommerce is a highly customisable shopping form that can easily be tailored towards specific customer’s needs.

Little touches such as loyalty schemes that are personalised towards one consumers particular needs prove to be an effective form of customisation. In addition targeted advertisements and product recommendations are also proven to be valuable for both the consumer and the merchant. By showing customers products they are interested in based on previous consumer behaviour can be a powerful tool to make a customer more attracted to your store. 

Before eCommerce and the online world, to compare prices customers would usually only investigate one or two retail stores as it was too time consuming or not feasible to research and contrast the price of the product they wanted in each individual brick and mortar store. Now, however, with a few clicks customers can gather and compare numerous prices given by numerous merchants in a matter of minutes. This has given customers unprecedented control and is highly influential on their decisions to buy.

With 80% of consumers surveyed proclaiming that pricing is an important factor in their purchase decision, it’s obvious that eCommerce stores must remain competitive when it comes to pricing. Research and market analysis about who your competitors are and what pricing they are offering is indispensable information for every marketer and manager in eCommerce as it is the key to saying competitive and getting customers to purchase at your store. 

What influences customer purchase decisions is an interesting aspect of marketing and consumer behaviour. eCommerce merchants must recognise the reasons why their customers are or are not purchasing to full understand their customers and to grow as a business.  

Check out these Stats:
90% of customers report that online reviews have influenced their purchasing of a product
40% of consumers won't buy an electronic product without reading reviews first

78% of customers say that companies social media impacts their purchases
77% of social media users admit that comments by other users influence their purchases

86% of shoppers said that personalisation of a shopping experience influenced their purchasing behaviour

80% of consumers proclaim that price is an important factor in their purchase decision


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