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Just over 1% of a retail website's users generate as much as 40% of its revenues according to research by customer experience software firm Qubit, which analysed 123 million website visits and identified four key types of online customer. This article is copyright 2013 The Best Customer Guide.

The research found that while 1.06% of total visitors generated an impressive 40% of an average web site's income, there are a combined 20% of web site visitors who will never make any purchases at all.

As a result, the study identified four key types of web site visitor:

  1. Sofa Surfers
    More than one in six website users (17%) visit web sites regularly, but never purchase. Their regular viewing times (of 9.00am-11.00am and 1.00pm-5.00pm) suggest that they might be stay-at-home mothers or non-working individuals with plenty of time on their hands during the daytime. They are twice as likely as the average site visitor to be surfing using an Apple device, using the Safari browser, and to be using a tablet. Geographically, these users tend to come from urban areas.
  2. Big Spenders
    This core of loyal website fans make up only 0.03% of total users, yet they account for 30% of online revenue. Intensely loyal to their chosen retailers, they visit their preferred sites 300 times more often than the average user. They're 20% more likely than the average to be using a tablet, but are 10 times less likely to be visiting using a smart phone. These users shop from 1.00pm to 3.00pm during the day, but will also spend up to 20 times longer than the average user surfing between midnight and 4.00am.
  3. Basket Cases
    The 'basket case' comes to a site and fills their shopping basket, yet never completes their purchase. They represent only 2.46% of users, but generate no revenue at all for retailers. They tend to use Google's Chrome browser, which has a younger user base that's happy to shop around, perhaps explaining their bizarre online window-shopping behaviour. These visitors are largely nocturnal, with their web usage focused between 7.00pm and 3.00am.
  4. Speedy Shoppers
    Making up 1.03% of users, this focused few customers generate 10% of total revenues, making them the second most valuable type of online customer. These users visit a site and make a purchase with seemingly little consideration, spending very little unnecessary time researching products first. They are 18% more likely than others to be using a mobile device, and tend to surf using either the Internet Explorer or Chrome web browsers.

By breaking down online shoppers into these different personas its easy to see where retailers should be focusing their efforts. For example, sofa surfers and basket cases both show all the expected traits of profitable shoppers but, without a proper analysis of web site visitors, retailers would never know that they are simply giving nothing back.

"By understanding what people are doing on your site, and whether or not they're going to turn into paying customers, you can make better informed decisions about where to invest your marketing budget. Conversely, it's vital that you encourage and embrace your big spenders and speedy shoppers, because these tiny segments are most likely driving a massive percentage of your revenue," concluded Qubit's CEO, Graham Cooke.