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There’s No Accounting for Taste: How I shop online

Topic: WorkingPoint News | Comments (1)

Posted on August 17, 2010 by admin

As most of you have probably figured out by now, I am no accountant. I believe in the importance of accounting and accountants and accountancy, but it’s not really what I’m good at (thank goodness for accounting software like WorkingPoint). Revenue, Equity, Interest, Inventory, Profit all excellent accounts but not really where I excel. I’m good at building relationships (also known as community building) and I’m good at shopping.

Understanding how people shop, specifically how they use the internet to shop, is useful when you’re figuring out where to focus your valuable time in your marketing plan for your business. So with this in mind today I decided to share with you how I shop.

I am a reasonably tech savvy millenial who lives in an urban area with lots of great stores (both chain and local). Most of my indulgent spending is on meals out, cosmetics and fashion. I’m an avid fitness buff, book reader (good old fashioned paper kind) and basically a rampant consumer of media (tv, blogs, magazines, you name it). I prefer to support local businesses (2 of my favorites right now for women’s apparel are Ambiance and the newly opened Seed Store) but I work crazy hours so if I’m looking for something specific (black boots, ipod charger, locksmith etc.) I usually go online to search before I buy. I love a good deal and I’m a member of just about every group buying discount site you could possibly imagine (Groupon, Bloomspot, etc..).

The following are real scenarios from my recent online shopping. I’m hoping they will inspire you to think about how people shop and search!

The Email Sale

I open my gmail on the bus on my iphone and see the subject line: “5 pilates classes for $50 in XXXX neighborhood, 65% discount!”. I immediately click on the link (pilates classes are so expensive and this place is near my house!). I go to the site and buy the classes immediately. There have been other, cheaper deals before but in inconvenient locations. For the rest of the week I follow this deal site more than the other ones because I am so happy with the deal they provided me. I ignore the other 15 emails I get (I like deal sites!). I usually scan the headlines and delete ones that have nothing to do with me (child photography sessions? gourmet cooking classes during the workday?). I also very rarely open ones that say things like 15% off your order (order of what?).

The lesson:  With email marketing, it’s all about the subject line! Also, people like good deals, what can you offer to hook people into visiting your site over your competitors site? And lastly, can you geographically target your audience with your marketing? No matter how good the deal I’m not going to go too far out of my way for it!

The Influencer

I am reading one of my favorite beauty blogs and they recommend a product that I want to try. I click on the link they provide, and think “hmm, this seems kind of pricey plus they charge for shipping”. I decide to search for a cheaper option (and/or free shipping). I enter the product name in the search window. Google gives me a list of about 25,000 responses. I click on the top 3 that include the words “free shipping”. I whip out my credit card.

The lesson: internet shoppers tend to be savvy and will search for competitive pricing… but not too hard. Search ranking is important!

The Targeted Search

It’s fall, which means a new season, new trends and back to school sales. I want a new pair of boots. I check all my favorite bookmarked sites for trends (and possible purchases), send links to my friends for approval (both price and style) and create a list of possible purchases. This process can take weeks while I compare, watch blogs to confirm trends, and try to find something my friends will approve of…

The lesson: online shoppers research, research and more research plus they tap into their social networks. What could you do to convert a “researcher” into a sale?

The Influencer Part 2, Crowdsourcing

I am making plans to meet a large group of friends for dinner. We’ve decided we want pho. I go online to Yelp enter the search term “pho” and the neighborhood. I email the link to my friends. We comment back and forth and pick the place with the best reviews.


I need a plumber. Repeat above.

The lesson: in the social media era, popular opinion is important. I believe the masses and what they are saying online and I shop accordingly. What are people saying about you on the review sites?

The Link Share

I admit it, people send me links of cute things all the time. We read fashion blogs, pretend shop, whatever. Then we email them to our friends for approval (see mass opinion matters above). I can’t predict exactly how my friends come across these things they want to buy (no doubt it’s some combination of influencers and their own social networks) but the link share usually turns into a sale (maybe not that item but something else).

The lesson: work your social networks. Sharing is how things, stores, websites, and content goes viral. How can you encourage your network to share links to your website?

How do you shop online? How can you use your own habits to help you reach your customers?