What's true in showbiz also applies to ecommerce. In order to succeed, you must understand your audience.
To stay ahead of any surprises, you’ll want to understand how the demographics, personalities and spending habits of each vary across each ecommerce destination. In this blog, we’ll break down several types of buyer personas across Amazon, Walmart Marketplace, eBay and Google.
Keep in mind that depending on your product category, region and other factors, your audience could be segmented even more. For example, you may find that spending habits vary depending on whether someone shops on desktop or mobile (or even via smart devices), and that your West Coast buyers gravitate towards different products than your East Coast ones.
This blog is just meant to give an overview of personas, which are not only important when you’re deciding which products to sell and where, but also how you sell them.
What Are Buyer Personas and Why Do They Matter?
‘Buyer persona’ is a common term in marketing speech. Marketers will often create fictional avatars—like a Digital Dave or a Savvy Spender Sue—alongside biographies to represent different types of people in their audience.
This fosters a deeper, more personal understanding of your consumers. Rather than viewing buyers as one general group, personas get you into the practice of identifying their varying motivations depending on their profession, lifestyle—or in this case—their preferred shopping site.
By knowing what each persona expects out of a product like yours, you can start to write content that resonates more deeply and identify the best marketing opportunities for your brand. Ultimately, personas help you to boost conversion rates. They help you to graduate from a one-size-fits-all approach and seize the opportunity that ecommerce presents, especially as online sales are skyrocketing to never-before-seen heights.
Amazon Buyer Persona
For starters, Amazon.com is (as we all know) the farthest reaching ecommerce site in the U.S. Even after the COVID-19 pandemic struck and disrupted its supply chain, the company saw a 25% surge in online sales, its fastest recorded growth in at least six quarters.
Many buyers flock to the platform through force of habit, brand recognition, tech synergy (Amazon Echo) and the allure of shipping benefits granted by their Prime subscriptions (there are around 112 million Prime subscribers in the U.S.).
Despite offering some of the most competitive prices, Amazon’s buyer base is one of the most diverse and high-spending. In fact, Epsilon found that high-spending Amazon shoppers spend two times more than the average consumer across all retailers and channels in its database.
This, of course, is no accident. It is the product of Amazon’s investment into a wide range of industries and an ecosystem centered around good customer experience. More recently, Amazon sought to expand its lower-income customer base after the onset of Covid-19 through the sale of food and everyday items. It also made moves to attract those on the other end of the spectrum with the launch of Luxury Stores. While more is left to be seen with these initiatives, below are some of the most defining qualities of Amazon’s general buyer base:
- Demographics: Shoppers who spend the most on Amazon tend to be 45-64 years old, married with kids and college-educated.
- Buying power: More than half of shoppers have a net worth of more than $500,000. The average Amazon shopper has higher annual household income ($84,449) than the average Walmart consumer ($76,313), according to another survey. Prime members in the U.S. spend an average $1,400 per year. By contrast, non-Prime members spend an average of $600 per year.
- Motivations: Sixty-four percent of shoppers cite price as a core reason why they shop on Amazon, while 60% cite free shipping and 52% cite convenience. At the same time, most of those shoppers are willing to buy elsewhere if the price is comparable and free shipping is still an option. Among Prime members specifically, 88% say that free shipping is factored into their purchase decisions. Beyond shipping, consumers ages 18 to 44 cite Amazon video and music as key benefits, while those ages 45 and older cite reading and credit cards.
- Habits: Most Amazon serarches are unbranded (78%), indicating that shoppers are conditioned to value the product over the individual seller.
- Notes: Epsilon itself identified several types of relevant audience segments: Amazon loyalists, or buyers who aren’t fans of shopping and often default to Amazon; convenience shoppers, or those who prefer shopping on Amazon because it’s fast but aren’t necessarily married to it; and bargain hunters who instinctively check for deals online but may still purchase in stores.
Recap: Who Buys from Amazon?
A wide range of people. But the biggest spenders tend to be older and more established with high expectations for price (a.k.a. they must feel like they’re getting a good, competitive deal), quality and customer service (including a convenient shopping experience and fast shipping), although often looking for a product type rather than a single brand.
Walmart Marketplace Buyer Persona
It’s said that the demographics of the average Amazon and Walmart shopper are nearly identical, except for their annual household income. But Walmart itself reports that it’s online audience is starting to look different than its in-store audience; more than half of Walmart Marketplace buyers are from medium-to-high income households as opposed to predominantly lower-income.
While price is still a motivating factor, Walmart.com is emerging as a popular destination for folks across the board who want to find one, reliable place to shop for everything they need. To that end, Walmart has a leg up in groceries as well as its omni-channel presence.
As more consumers are staying indoors and may be working irregular or longer hours, Walmart is able to offer a slew of buying options, including buy-online-pickup-in-store, curbside pickup and same-day grocery deliveries.
The company also launched Walmart+, a Prime-like membership program, that includes free delivery for orders over $35, discounted fuel price and other perks. This move places it even closer to Amazon in the ranks, and aims to widen and secure its customer base.
- Demographics: The average in-store Walmart shopper is 46 years old and lives in a rural area. Meanwhile, Walmart reports that over a third of its online shoppers are between the ages 23 and 38, and more than half are married or partnered with kids.
- Buying power: The average in-store Walmart shopper earns ~$76,000 per year in household income. By contrast, more than half of Walmart.com buyers are homeowners of medium-to-high household incomes, according to Walmart.
- Motivations: Discounted prices and the promise of a good deal are driving factors for purchase on Walmart. Online grocery sales drove a majority of Walmart’s recent ecommerce growth, though Walmart's 2019 list of top-selling items online indicates that household items attract plenty of attention, too.
- Habits: More and more buyers prefer the convenience of BOPIS (buy online/pickup in store). While you can’t necessarily offer this as a marketplace seller, most marketplace items can still be returned in stores.
- Notes: Though Walmart Marketplace is relatively new, buyers expect the online shopping experience to reach Amazon-level convenience (enter: TwoDay Shipping, Walmart+ and Walmart Fulfillment Services). At the same time, they may have even higher expectations in terms of the quality and assortment of brands offered by Walmart, given its roots as a big-box retailer.
Recap: Who buys from Walmart Marketplace?
Buyers tend to be even more price sensitive than Amazon shoppers, but the platform's customer base is growing more diverse with rising expectations for brand quality and assortment.
eBay Buyer Persona
While Walmart took its seat as the second largest ecommerce retailer in the U.S., eBay still boasts 182 million active users worldwide and celebrated the highest quarterly growth rate (26.3%) it has seen in 15 years in Q2 2020.
Over the years, the company has cultivated a loyal, friendly customer base with its wholesale pricing strategy. It attracts demographically diverse customers, thanks to the broad spectrum of new and used items it supplies (you can find everything from cars to shoes), in addition to several pricing formats (auction, fixed-price, classifieds).
The pandemic has only added to eBay’s prominence. In fact, eBay says it's seeing many new and returning customers "who on average spend more per buyer than in the past" during this time of social-distant shopping. The home and garden, electronic, fashion, auto parts and collectible categories have been seeing the most growth. In the days to follow, the company says it will invest more into its mobile app and “non-new and seasoned” products to boost customer retention.
- Demographics: There are slightly more male (57%) than female (47%) shoppers on eBay, with nearly a third falling into the 35 to 49-year-old age group. The next largest segment is ages 50 to 64 at 29%, followed by 25 to 34 at 18%.
- Motivations: Buyers are price-conscious and savvy bidders who seek both new and used items unavailable on other channels, like collectibles. They’ve previously been described as “enthusiast buyers” and “value seekers” who also find value in older models of products. They are not necessarily “efficiency buyers” that seek competitively priced in-season inventory; some scour eBay for particular, niche products that, again, may not be found in many other places.
- Habits: Shoppers are increasingly purchasing through their mobile devices. They additionally emphasize and value seller ratings, potentially even more than on other marketplaces, when making final purchasing decisions.
- Notes: The days of eBay existing as solely a channel for consumer-to-consumer transactions, or even third-party resellers, are long gone. Brands like Dyson and adidas have set up shop on eBay to sell overstock or refurbished items at discounted prices.
Recap: Who buys on eBay?
eBay attracts niche buyers who put value over convenience. They’re concerned by the reputation and trustworthiness of third-party sellers, partially as a result of eBay’s roots as an online auction house. In more recent years, they’re growing more accustomed to finding branded items on the marketplace, though they’re likely to be drawn more to refurbished, discounted than they are to new, fully priced ones.
Google Shopping Buyer Persona
It’s harder to pinpoint one general audience here, as Google’s Shopping properties span almost everything that Google owns. Between your Shopping ads and Buy on Google listings, your listings could essentially appear in front of any of Google’s billions of monthly visitors. Who you actually reach depends entirely on your product category and your target vertical. So, instead of defining a buyer persona here like we have been, here are a few things to keep in mind.
P.S. Raise your hand if you’re confused by all these terms. This dictionary of ecommerce-related Google terms can help.
- Google Shopping listings can appear on a variety of Google surfaces, including the Google Shopping tab, images, maps, search and lens. You’ll therefore want to track which devices and platforms your shoppers are coming in from, as it could be a combination of these surfaces.
- Buyers on Google are not necessarily committed to buying the product online. Many may complete their purchase in stores—Google even promotes this by displaying nearby stores for products listed in its Shopping destination.
- Google reports that 75% of surveyed shoppers say they’ve used a Google product to help with their shopping.
- Over a third of shoppers say they’ve purchased a product they discovered on YouTube.
- Nearly 35% of all product searches start on Google, many of which are for comparison research. Aside from price, brand name, availability, location and color are other commonly searched-for attributes. Searches range from daily essentials to clothing and pricier home goods. It’s also worth noting that Amazon now surpasses Google; nearly half of U.S. internet users start their product searches on Amazon.
- Search queries of the “is __ worth it?” format have increased by 80%, according to Google.
Recap: Who buys from Google Shopping?
These customers are likely to be comparison shoppers searching for product availability online or in-stores. Shopping Ads may appear in front of users who are searching for “how tos” or definitions related to a planned purchase, too, and may not necessarily be looking to make a purchase immediately or on Google.
No two ecommerce channels are exactly alike. The audience makeup may vary more than you think between channels, so you’ll want to do your due diligence and avoid taking a copy-and-paste approach when selling on multiple channels. If you need help managing your listings at scale and regaining time to operate more strategically, holler at us! Zentail is designed to simplify multichannel listing, pricing and more, so less of your energy gets wasted on tedious, day-to-day tasks.