The phrase “online consumer behavior” describes the process of online shopping from a consumer’s perspective. It is often described as the study of trends, including the influence of online advertising, consumer willingness to click on links, the prevalence of comparison shopping, among others. The decision-making process of an online consumer is often very different from that of a consumer in a physical store. Companies are increasingly studying online consumer behavior in order to adapt their sales and marketing strategies to appeal to the Internet purchaser.
Online sales have increased all over the world, with more and more shoppers looking to the Internet before they head out to malls or other stores. In order to remain competitive, many companies are electing to devote at least some of their marketing capital to the online space. Companies decide many of the finer points of online sales, including advertising strategies, page layout, and ease of website searching by analyzing online consumer behavior.
The field of online consumer behavior can be broad. Most of the time, theories in this field are posited by economists or market analysts who specialize in consumer analysis. Companies hire some consumer analysts on a contract basis to provide tailored advice. Others work for independent market analyst firms, for think tanks, or in academia.
In many respects, the study of online consumer behavior is the study of the intersection between online consumers and online businesses. Analysts look at how consumers respond to various aspects of an online business, and compare the factors that led to a consumer either making a purchase or leaving the website. The consumer psychology of making purchases online is usually a major part of an analyst’s considerations, and analysts often conduct market segmentation studies based on gender, age, and relative sophistication.
Online consumer behavior can also be forward-looking. Behavior studies can tell businesses how consumers are responding to ads and site layouts, but they can also predict how consumers will respond to other future campaigns or web features. Market analysis in the online space often leads to innovation. Businesses develop new advertising campaigns, and come up with different ways to reach potential purchasers based on behavioral statistics.
Sometimes,the way corporations use behavioral data are straightforward, such as sponsoring links on certain sites or optimizing home pages to appear more readily in search engines. Increasingly, however, market responses are more tailored to the consumer individually. Social networking promotions, interactive homepages, and special offers for subscribers of e-mail or messaging updates are all examples of ways in which online consumer behavior has influenced the modern retail world.