Setting up an online shop has become extremely easy, but making it efficient and helpful to your visitors takes more effort. You need to make sure that your online shop is not only visually appealing, highly functional, and easy to navigate, but also truly compelling. It should provide offers that your customers can't refuse and showcase those offers in a way that makes customers enjoy the shopping experience.

Your customers are the heart of your business, so putting their needs and habits first is precisely what will help you grow and be successful.

One of the greatest advantages of an online shop is the ability to extend your reach globally; but, to effectively accomplish that, you must know your target customers' needs and shopping habits and behaviors. Because those needs and habits are continually changing as a result of ever-evolving technology, keeping up with the pace of change and understanding them has become more essential than ever.

To design an online store that will entice your target demographic and compel them to return, you need to keep their habits at the forefront of your mind. Read on to learn how you can make your store stand out and truly appeal to visitors.

1. The Differing Values of Men and Women

The online shopping habits of men and women differ significantly; so, depending on the product types you offer, you should carefully consider the gender of your target demographic.

For instance, women tend to expect a social and comprehensive shopping experience with visuals, reviews, and forums, and they are highly responsive to discounts, sales, coupons, and marketing emails. They also tend to search online for products they may need in the future, but they are not strangers to impulse purchases as well.

Men, however, generally want a simple shopping experience, and they are not as into discounts and coupons. They want detailed product descriptions, customer reviews, and a straightforward shopping experience. Unlike women, they tend to engage in shopping right when they need a particular product, and they often buy the first workable one they find rather than spending time researching other options.

2. Multi-Device Browsing

Consumers today increasingly use their smartphones and tablets to search for products to buy online, especially as mobile devices are becoming more capable of enabling seamless user experiences and providing excellent convenience.

That's not to say laptops and desktops are dead and gone. People switch devices frequently during the day: Fully 65% of consumers start their product search using their smartphones but complete their purchases using their laptops or desktop computers.

Therefore, although you should definitely have a mobile-first strategy when designing your online shop—your website should be responsive and mobile-friendly—you shouldn't forget about meeting the needs of desktop and laptop users.

3. Pre-Purchase Research Habits

Before making an online purchase, 85% of consumers conduct research, according to a 2017 survey by Salesforce. They check out customer reviews and ratings, testimonials, forums, social media posts, comments, and various comparison websites.

Why? Because consumers tend to rely on other people's experiences with brands. They simply want to make sure the brand is credible and reliable.

What does that mean for your online shop? You should provide testimonials and encourage customer reviews on your website, and you should deliver seamless experiences across all channels to capture the attention of online shoppers who conduct pre-purchase research.

4. Millennials and Rebates

Millennials will often choose a rebate rather than a discount.

Instead of cutting your prices or creating special offers of instant discounts, try offering rebates that will provide your customers with great savings opportunities and also give them high value, which is essentially what they are looking for in the first place.

5. Gift Cards vs. Direct Payment

More and more people are using gift cards to pay for their online purchases, as they deem the cards safer than direct payments, especially since cybersecurity threats and identity fraud have become major issues.

One study on shopping habits of Millennials found that 64% of them believe that gift cards are safer than any other digital payment method, and 66% of them believe that gift cards prevent identity fraud.

That is exactly why you should offer gift cards, as well as other alternative payment methods, such as PayPal. However, you should also make payment easy and secure for customers who prefer direct payments.

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Not all online shoppers are the same, of course. To understand them better and improve your chances for increasing sales, you should monitor their habits and keep up with the fast pace of changing trends.

Keep the above five customer habits in mind when designing your online shop so you can effectively meet the needs of your consumers and make your shop stand out.

Speaking of standing out, one more tip: make sure that your design elements are top-notch so they grab and hold the attention of your online shoppers. And one of the most important design elements is your logo: It represents your brand's unique identity. So, if you haven't already, design a truly memorable logo that people will instantly recognize you by.

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image of Anja Skrba

Anja Skrba is a content creation manager for FirstSiteGuide, an educational website that provides tutorials and guides for creating, growing, and maintaining your online presence.

LinkedIn: Anja Skrba

Twitter: @AnjaSkrba