12 min read

What is an ecommerce researcher?

Emily Corke
Emily Corke
Senior Content Marketing Manager
What is an ecommerce researcher?

Our recent research revealed that 60% of consumers are leaving your site when about to make a purchase, to find and purchase the same product on Amazon and/ or competitors. Amongst other things, it revealed the missed sales opportunity for retailers lies in the research phase.

What’s more the research showed that 14% of consumers surveyed visit an ecommerce store everyday with no intention to buy while 43% do this once to twice a week.

The burning question here is are you tracking researchers who are likely to buy on your site? Do you know what they look like in comparison to general website visitors with no intention to buy?

Shoppers would likely define themselves as researchers until the moment they click checkout on their online shopping cart. For the ecommerce marketer though, the definition of what a researcher is needs to be slightly more specific.

That’s why we have created a new eBook, looking into defining what researchers are, how they behave and what you can do to turn them into purchasers. But we thought we would give you a sneak peek. Here is our breakdown of what is an ecommerce researcher.

Tracking a researcher’s journey

A buyer will go through a three-stage process before making their purchase.

A visitor lands on your site in a stage of awareness. They are experiencing a problem or symptoms of pain, and their goal is to alleviate it. They may have landed on your site to get some more information to define their problem.

A visitor becomes a shopper in the consideration and evaluation stage. The shopper will have clearly defined and given a name to their problem, and they are committed to researching and understanding all the available approaches. They might use your site to go through all the products that helps them solve their problem.

A shopper becomes a buyer in the decision phase. The buyer has decided on their solution strategy, method, or approach. In your case they might have decided on a product. Their goal now is to compile a list of available products, make a shortlist, and ultimately make a final purchase decision.

During each stage of the buyer's journey, shoppers employ two different modes of thought: exploration and evaluation. Google calls this researching phase the “messy middle”. The messy middle is “a space of abundant information and unlimited choice that shoppers have learned to manage using a range of cognitive shortcuts”.

First, the buyer will explore their options, expand their knowledge, and build a list of products to consider. Then they will evaluate their options and narrow down the number of choices. We can see this in the research – they exhibit a particular body language when going through this process.

Shoppers will often move back and forth, repeating this cycle as many times as needed to decide on a product.

What is important for the ecommerce marketer here is that the visitor, and in some instances the shopper, are early-stage researchers with a low propensity or likelihood to buy.  They are less likely to buy, regardless of your promo codes and discounts. However, they still value the help and guidance you would get in-store, or reading reviews of   a product.

The shoppers and buyers in the consideration and decision phases are late-stage researchers with a high propensity or likelihood to buy. They would be interested in your promo codes or delivery information as this is the decision-making information they need to go from researcher to purchaser.

What is a late-stage researcher?

A late-stage researcher is a term used to describe a buyer in the latter stage of their research and the decision stage of the buyer's journey.

The late-stage researcher has a well-defined problem and a clear understanding of their preferred solution. With a product category chosen, the late-stage researcher begins exploring their options, scanning lists of available products, and deciding which may be worthy of further consideration. Items of interest are flagged or saved but not considered in detail at this time.

Our research has shown that shoppers use the baskets (37%) and wish lists (23%) to do this. Note that this indicates shoppers are using baskets to save items on interest, not necessarily to show intent of buying.  

“Knowing the stage of researchers is critical. Not only to protect your bottom line by not handing out discounts to visitors who don’t want them, but also to improve their experience on your site and confidence that you are the brand to make the purchase with. The early-stage researcher will be frustrated by a pop up with a promo code at the wrong time, use your site to do some research but ultimately purchase the product from a site that gave them a better experience. You don’t want your onsite guidance creating too much friction thus making your site a steppingstone.” Nicholas Roberts, Director of Demand Generation, Ve Global

Navigating the digital body of a researcher

Being able to categorise and recognise the late-stage researchers amongst those still navigating the awareness phase is the next step. A researcher (visitor or shopper) will give off different signals and real-time digital cues give you the opportunity to start understanding each interaction. These are the micro-actions that show what they are looking for.

Our research has shown that buyers do the following when researching big-ticket items:

  • 52% Compare product descriptions online      
  • 21% Ask a friend or family member with experience of the product    
  • 20% Go in-store to find out more  
  • 6% Use the chat facilities on the website (More on this later)

You might not be able to track and measure a researcher asking their friends and family or going in-store for more information, but there are ways to track the most common behaviour – comparing product descriptions. Like a shop assistant would navigate non-verbal body language cues, your onsite technology and analytics needs to interpret the digital body language.

That might look like the following:

  • Exit intentions across your site.
  • Multiple stops on one or more product pages.
  • Navigating to reviews.
  • Saving items to wish lists and baskets.

Start with their goal in mind, then start to think about the type of behaviour that would exhibit on your site. Finally, work out how you are going to track it.

Product comparison is a critical activity and a necessary step in the buying process, relying on finding consistent information between products and determining the differences between them. This is where the cost of getting it wrong and confidence in the brand, price and product will create the greatest point of failure for any brand.

So, with that in mind, how are you going to stop researchers using you site as a steppingstone to others?

For more information about how Ve can help you target researchers and turn them into purchasers, download the eBook today. Or if you want to go straight to the source, request a custom website conversion audit with one of our conversion experts today.

Request a demo today