Online Male Shoppers Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus


male vs female

Do men and women shop differently? “Of course,” answers anyone who’s ever witnessed a married couple on a trip to the mall. Typically, when it comes to brick-and-mortar retail stores, men like to get in, get what they need and get out fast. They’re not major comparison shoppers and they’re more willing to pay a little more to speed the process than they are to spend time hunting down bargains.

But does the same difference between the sexes hold true when it comes to eCommerce—and if so, how can you tailor your marketing to attract both men and women? A recent Shopzilla survey polled men and women ecommerce shoppers about their latest online purchase. Here’s some of what it found.

Men and Women’s Online Shopping Behavior

Overall, men and women’s eCommerce shopping behavior was almost exactly alike. The vast majority of purchases (87 percent for men and 82 percent for women) were made on a desktop. Next most popular was an iPad, used by 13 percent of women and 10 percent of men. All other devices were far behind.

The bulk of eCommerce orders were placed from home (84 percent for women and 81 percent for men), which kind of gives the lie to the idea that employees are spending much of their time shopping online. Just 15 percent of men and 13 percent of women had made their most recent purchases while at work.

While “showrooming,” researching products in stores and then buying them cheaper online, has gotten a lot of play in the media, 79 percent of women and 76 percent of men bought products online without ever looking at them in a store. Showrooming behavior was slightly more common among men—12 percent of men say they looked at something in-store and then bought it online from a different store, but only 9 percent of women had.

Price matters to both men and women—77 percent of women and 74 percent of men say price influenced their purchases, while 80 percent of men and 79 percent of women say they bought from the store that “offered the best all-around price” for the product in question. Both sexes also care about free shipping, with close to 60 percent saying they chose a store that offered it.

However, women are more likely to actively hunt for bargains and deals. Just 57 percent of men, compared to 71 percent of women, say the item they purchased was on sale. Women are also more likely to use coupons, with 34 percent of women using them vs. 26 percent of men.

Male vs Female: Where the Sexes Differ Online

While marketing methods such as print advertising, social media, word-of-mouth and blogs worked equally well (or poorly) on men and women, there are a couple areas where the sexes differ:

  • Women are more likely to pay attention to marketing emails. Fourteen percent of women, compared to 8 percent of men, say they first saw their most recent online purchase in an email from a store.
  • Men are more likely to find a product when “surfing around” online. Thirty three percent of men, versus 26 percent of women, first saw their most recent purchase this way.

What do these stats mean to you?

If You’re Targeting Men:

  • Consider paid search advertising: So your product pops up when men are searching or reading about related or competing products. Improve your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) so your products and website are more likely to show up when they’re actively searching.
  • If you own a brick-and-mortar store:  Combat male showrooming by ensuring your employees are well-prepared and well-versed in what you sell. Offer the option to order the product in-store from your own website for (semi) instant gratification.

If You’re Targeting Women:

  • Emails get results: With most women shopping online from home, don’t worry about sending emails during the busy part of the work day. Try emailing in the afternoon (around 3PM) to ignite her interest as her workday energy flags) and again after dinnertime when she’s likely to be settling down and relaxing.
  • Offer coupons: Whether you post discount codes and coupons on online coupon sites, on your social media accounts, on your website or in emails, use them. Women love to feel the thrill of the hunt when shopping, and tracking down that great coupon offer is part of it.

Men Mars Women Venus Photo via Shutterstock


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Rieva Lesonsky Rieva Lesonsky is a Columnist for Small Business Trends covering employment, retail trends and women in business. She is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Visit her blog, SmallBizDaily, to get the scoop on business trends and free TrendCast reports.