What Kind of Shopper Are You?

iStock photo
iStock photo

What is your shopping style? Are you a window shopper? A wandering shopper? A systematic shopper? Or do you avoid brick-and-mortar shopping all together?

I have been watching people shop for years. Many years ago, I worked at a trendy store in the mall. I learned a great deal about shopping styles as the years passed, and as I shop now I consider these shopping styles routinely when I am shopping.

A long time ago, I went on a business trip with several colleagues. Since there was not much to do in this small town, we went to a local mall and shopped. My colleagues enjoyed their shopping so much that we returned to the mall the next night, to reconsider items that they had not purchased the night before. They were classic wanderers, zig zagging through the mall at every turn, taking an extensive (by my terms anyway) time to look in windows, only to then wander into the store. In my eyes, it was a frustrating experience, although my colleagues loved it.

As a systematic shopper through and through, if I do shop at a mall, I am very organized. I usually look at the mall map before I arrive at the mall to park next to the closest store I am interested in visiting. I have a list on my phone and I systematically check things off as I go. I use one of two methods:

  • Walk as far as I need to down the entire mall on one side of the mall.
  • Walk as far as I need to down the entire mall on one side of the mall, with the exception of a few zig zags if I am comparing items from 2 different stores.

I typically quickly make a measured decision choosing (color, style, etc.), although I have considered my potential choices ahead of time.  I always check the return policy when I buy and then return the item if I find something better – thereby minimizing chances of a return trip to the mall only to find the item I was considering was gone.

Here are the shopping styles I have observed:

The Wandering Shopper: These shoppers take their time, have no systematic plan, often enjoy shopping for the experience of it in and of itself. Wanderers may also lose track of time easily because they are “in their element”. It may take an extensive time to make a choice between a color, style or another criteria. Once they have made their initial choice, they may move their chosen item to compare with a similar item in the store.

The Window Shopper: In the most strict sense, window shoppers gaze into windows, but never venture into the store. A sub-category of Window shoppers are also there for the experience, but often don’t allow themselves to go in the store unless certain criteria (e.g., seeing sale signs, catching a glimpse of a friend inside the store, a store with prices within a particular price point) are met.

The Social Shopper: Although these shoppers are in the stores under the guise of shopping, the true intent of the visit is to interact socially with other people in the mall or with themselves as a group.

The Impulse Shopper: These shoppers don’t plan a thing; they just get in the car and go shopping. They may purchase items large or small without a plan of where to put the item in their home or whether or not they need it. These shoppers typically enjoy shopping.

The Bargain Hunter: This shopper prides themselves in finding the best bargain possible. Using coupons, buy-one-get-one-free (BOGO) offers, early bird specials, you name it. These shoppers also carefully consider the frequent shopper awards they amass and add to their savings. They may also do some fancy footwork by using different credit cards to gain additional points, miles or other discounts. The most dedicated bargain hunter may pre-plan with fellow bargain hunters to maximize savings among both parties, such as sharing a BOGO offer or other savings.

The “Buy Local” Shopper: One of our favorite ways to shop here at Scoutie Girl, these shoppers emphasize buying local, handmade or from small businesses. As more small businesses are now delivering to our doorstep or through commercial carriers, this method is easier than ever. Please check out my favorite go-to small business, Wildly American Soap Company.

The Online Shopper: Avoids brick-and-mortar shops at all costs. Dedicated online shoppers may even buy staples such as groceries, paper goods, or meat in this manner.

The Systematic Shopper: Plans out the route with great care so as to avoid backtracking, plans time effectively by capitalizing on staggered store hours and prioritizing the shops that open first. Tries to take the most efficient or least labor intensive time out of their shopping experience.

Not only did my experience in retail help me identify with different shopping styles, I also believe my affinity for being a systematic shopper is because I often did my own shopping at the mall within strict time constraints, either on a half-hour or hour break.

Of course, all of these shopping styles can have a few characteristics from each category, but typically each shopper will find that one category defines their shopping experience overall.

How is this helpful, you may ask? Apparently many of my friends are aligned with a different shopping style than I am – and these styles may or may not be compatible. Being aware of this makes the shopping experience less frustrating to both parties, because we just approach the shopping experience differently. And now that I have this sketched out, it also helps me to sometimes say, “Why don’t we meet for coffee when you are finished shopping?”

What is your shopping style? Do you have a friend with a considerably different shopping style? Are there any other shopping styles you can identify with? What shopping styles or characteristics would you add?

One thought on “What Kind of Shopper Are You?

  1. I am enjoying this book so far. You got the window shopper and wandering shopper down. This describes my mother to a tee. I like to wander my way thru a mall or store myself, if I have time. But more often then I have a goal in mind and go for it.
    I am excited to read the rest of the book.
    Thank you for writing this book and your love of helping those of us who don’t know what they are doing.

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