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How to attract more buying customers and less window shoppers to your online business

Whether you are an online or an offline business, you will attract both window shoppers and people who decide to buy from you. But how can you as an online business owner turn those window shoppers to loyal customers? Or, even better how can you ensure that you are attracting more actual good quality, long-term customers than not?

I have been reflecting on my own offline shopping experiences, and I realized that there are certain principles which make certain offline shops successful which can be applied to the online space.

  1. The Principle of Need
  2. The Principle of Desire
  3. The Principle of Experience

Let’s take a look at each of these from an offline shopping perspective first before looking at how this can be applied to online business.

The Principle of Need

I have a mega supermarket near where I live, it stocks more things than you or I could ever think of let alone need. I have never gone to this supermarket in order to simply window shop (by window shopping I mean entering a store with zero intention to purchase, and 100 percent intention to just look around).

There are plenty of shops that I go to just to window shop but the supermarket isn’t one of them. Whenever I decide to take a journey down there it is always with the intention to get some things that I need. I am armed with two bits of knowledge: 1) I know exactly what I want/need and 2) I know that this supermarket will be able to meet this need. Because of this whenever I go into this store, I always leave with something.

The Principle of Desire

In the UK there is a national store called Halfords, which sells bicycles and car accessories. My husband is a huge car person, so at times I have had to trail behind him as he ponders on the best wax to use and which wiping cloth will give the best finish. I would sigh as he reflects on whether he really does need a new gear knob, and cringe when he then walks over to the foot mat section.

Although he is likely to spend time in the store, there are certain things which the store does that means customers are more likely to make a purchase before they leave.

First, these stores are not on the high street; they are in remote retail parks which require extra energy and time to get to. In essence, by intending to go down to Halfords, the customer is already partly committed to buying an item or two. Secondly, because what they sell is so focused around eliciting and maintaining a particular desire/lifestyle which the customer already has, they are more likely to create a sale.

The Principle of Experience

Hubby and I went grocery shopping on Christmas Eve. Our initial thought was that we might go to the mega supermarket I spoke about above. But, as the traffic was a killer we decided to go to a different mega supermarket instead (we’re lucky like that). This happens to be my husband’s favourite grocery store, and although it’s a bit more expensive I don’t fault him because it encourages him to go shopping, and it’s easy to see why.

While I may be all about need (does it sell coconut flour), he’s willing to drive an extra mile or three to shop at this one instead. The ambience is totally different, and they actually sell fresh turmeric root! So, from the foods that they sell, the music playing in the background, their layout and choice of staff, they have created a shopping experience that pulls my husband back time and time again and encourages him to buy.

How can we relate these principles to your online business?

First, let’s look at the importance of need. There will always be things that your customer need. Do you know what they are?

Can you explain to them how what you are selling meets those needs?

I want to use an example of Costco, another massive supermarket but, their customers are business owners and companies. In essence they are selling the same thing as a normal supermarket, groceries, household stuff etc.  But in addition to this, they are also selling status (rank, position, social standing). This will attract customers who have these needs more than customers who don’t.

If we were to use Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to conceptualise those needs further, we would see that Costco is meeting the physiological and esteem needs primarily, with a little bit of security thrown in.

Ask yourself these questions:

What needs is my business meeting? How do I know this? How can my potential customer know this?

What about desire? Desire is all about emphasising the dream, goal or lifestyle of your ideal client/customer through your business. If I use Costco again, they are all about helping business owners, companies and corporate delegates get fantastic savings on their shopping. Costco’s warehouse feel elicits a sense of exclusivity and authenticity which you don’t get in normal supermarkets. This awareness of the needs of their customers allows them to appeal to their lifestyle goals and desires. E.g. “I want to feel like I’m successful. Shopping here enables me to feel like I am part of an elite few”.

So on to the last point, the importance of experience. We can already see the importance of experience and can see that it incorporates aspects of both need and desire. If I use Costco once again, there are certain things that they do which create the customer experience, such as location, requiring membership, exclusive offers and products, bulk buying discounts, in store specialised departments etc. Does your online business create an experience that supports your client’s lifestyle desires and goals?

So, here we have it, when we focus on customer needs, desires and experience we are more likely to get more customers and less window shoppers.

About the Author Florence Ukpabi

Florence (Achama) Ukpabi is a Transformational Clarity Coach who works with women who want to express themselves authentically and start living a soul-aligned life. With so much noise in the world, it's so easy to lose sight of who you are, not to mention what you really want from life and just follow the crowd. The end result is that many people end up living an unfulfilled life. She uses a blend of psychology, colour and branding work, spiritual wisdom and creative intuition to help her clients re-align with their true self and start living the life they really want. If you're a female entrepreneur who wants support to develop an authentic personal brand then visit her at

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Share your thoughts below

  • Fofo says:

    Thanks for sharing, Florence. Quite a true combination to think about. Cheers.

  • Pauline L says:

    Florence, thanks for the great insight: focus on customer needs, desires and experience. I take this away . Thanks

  • Feyikemi Oyewole says:

    Key factors – need, desire and experience. I will make a thorough review using this 3 principles. Thank you

  • Aji Michael says:

    Very useful insight Florence. Customer need and experience is paramount I agree, but it seems most people focus more on the need rather than the whole buying experience. Thank you!

  • CoachKemi says:

    I always, always love the way you write.

    I can never see the angle you come from until I read it.

    This was so well written, I wonder why you have not got a Nobel Prize yet…

    Thanks for this, Florence.

    • You are soooo funny Kemi. Thank you and so glad that it made good sense. Maybe that prize is around the corner, but thanking DJ’s best kept secret for cleaning up the text for me 🙂

  • Judy - Cut the Crap Solutions says:

    Congrats, Florence 🙂 Simple and clearly expressed. I particularly like your third principle – experience. It brings together not only need and desire – but the element of timing. Potential clients/customers buy when the time is right, which can be tricky, because it can conflict with urgency.

    Good luck! Big HUGS <3

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