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How to understand and influence online buyer’s behavior?

It all begins with a simple need. And why shouldn’t it? Your entire life is full of them. Little impulses pushing you in one direction or another, unique to you and your current situation.

Try to think about it. Whenever you surf the internet, you may find that you feel like clicking on one of the ads placed on the periphery of the main webpage. What gives you the urge to click on it?

Well, this is probably coming from your needs. It’s obvious that not all your needs dance on the edge between life or death – some of them are not so important in the grand scheme of things, and may be easily put aside. However, along any of your journeys as a buyer, there is always a moment when you realize you really want to purchase a product, despite its actual level of significance for you. In fact, it’s the degree of the motivation behind your click that plays a key role in influencing your personal behavior along this journey.

Abraham Maslow formulated a hierarchy of needs which splits motives according to five levels of importance. The most basic needs are located at the bottom of his pyramid and the highest at the top part.

The five levels of human needs are the following:

  •    Psychology: this first level includes all these things people need to survive such as hunger or thirst.
  •    Safety: the second level includes all things that generate a sense of security such as money or a place to live.
  •    Social needs: the next level includes relationship with others such as family or friends.
  •    Need for recognition: individual status development which involves the acquisition of prestige and respect by others.
  •    Self-fulfillment: this is the top of the hierarchy. It refers to personal development and it is the need people strive to satisfy more than any other.


Are you wondering how Maslow’s hierarchy can be of any help to your e-commerce? What is it that leads buyers to take real action once their needs are identified?

As you move up toward the top of the hierarchy, each need becomes less pivotal to survival, and more connected to the individual’s emotional well-being. Understanding this observation is essential to developing an e-commerce strategy that is capable of addressing those needs for consumers, creating perceived needs in their minds, and positioning the product as the best choice among all other competitors. This level of understanding helps you generate a long-term relationship with your buyers who, on the other hand, are driven by a sense of loyalty and safety toward the brand itself.


What do the current statistics about today’s CEE digital marketplace reveal?

Looking at European countries, although western Europe is currently the largest market for e-commerce with 53.19%, CEE (central and eastern Europe) showed an exponential growth over the last few years, currently set at 26.85% of the market.

Here are some insightful statistics regarding today’s CEE digital marketplace:

  •    55% of the population use the Internet for buying regularly, 35% irregularly, and 10% does not use the internet to purchase online.
  •    77% of the buyers prefer online stores from their own country.

The Czech population cited the following as the main reasons behind this choice:

  1. better and quicker reclamation process;
  2. lower delivery costs;
  3. speed of product delivery;
  4. higher level of trust in their stores
  •    59% of the shoppers do not consider the brand of the product at the beginning of their journey
  •    55% of the buyers consider other people’s opinion

Having an insightful statistic of your customer’s behavior may help you define how to achieve more successful interactions with them.

What are the typical stages of a buyer’s journey?

If you are not familiar with your buyers yet, you may consider conducting research to get a real sense of what the consumer feels is important during the purchasing process. This gap can be filled by simply asking yourself a few questions to put together the buyer’s journey for your company. Let’s review in detail what every stage of the buying process entails for online stores and buyers and take a few minutes to try answering the questions that follow to fully jump into your buyer’s perspective

1. Awareness stage


Potential buyers are seeking information to identify what they need or want to pursue, and to decide whether they need a specific product or service. At this stage, the buyer’s most common practice is to enter a keyword or phrase on search engines like Google, to gather more clear information about their problems or needs.

Providing detailed information about your product and services to potential buyers determines whether they will end up moving to the next stage. Keep in mind that a proper SEO strategy is the key to a successful practice here.

  •    How do buyers search for challenges or needs?
  •    How do buyers educate themselves?
  •    How do buyers decide to prioritize a challenge or a need?

2. Consideration stage

Once the buyers have successfully identified their need, they are willing to collect more specific information in order to consider all available options. The way you deliver information could make or break your chances at this stage. Things like reviews, product comparison and professional guidelines are all successful sources of information.

  •    What type of options do buyers consider?
  •    How do buyers educate themselves on all available options?
  •    How do buyers decide which option is right for them?

3. Decision stage

The buyers have already identified which option better fits their needs, and they know exactly how to address this, but they are still trying to choose the right seller.

Interesting research conducted in 2009 suggests that two key factors can help buyers decide whether to finalize a purchase:

  •    Negative feedback from other customers
  •    Level of motivation despite negative feedback from other customers (e.g., a few negative reviews for late deliveries may not be as important as a low price)

The author observes that, “when negative customer feedback is served up in a very public forum, it has great potential to tarnish the reputation of a brand and therefore any future revenue stream.”  

What influences your buyer’s motivation in CEE?

Generally speaking, the online buyer’s motivation is influenced by two different groups of factors:

  •    Intrinsic motivation (internal factors) drive our actions toward results and decisions in connection with our personal needs. You may desire a new bike to replace your older one, especially if it’s broken or otherwise unusable anymore.
  •    Extrinsic motivation (external factors) are directly driven by the environment around you, like the consequences of regulations or social pressure.

But what is it that boosts the buyer’s motivation in CEE, and why is this relevant for sellers?

  1.     Price: This is considered to be the most important factor that influences the buyer’s motivation in finalizing a purchase (within the entire CEE region, it appears to be the main reason for making online purchases). The possibility of a wide variety of price points, quick price comparison among multiple sellers, and convenience all make this an important influencer.
  2.     Others’ opinions: When searching online, buyers expect to find feedback and reviews to boost their buying motivation (55% of buyers in CEE marked this point as essential to their final decision). This also allows e-shops to increase their credibility on the web.
  3.     Trust: This is a major motivation for the CEE e-commerce market. Security is considered a real barrier against a wider acceptance of the Internet shopping experience. A few relevant examples coming from the CEE market are payment methods (39% of Polish customers prefer to pay on delivery), problems with product returns, and misuse of private information (63% of Czech buyers consider this to be essential). Trust can be acquired through transparency and offering responsive and supportive customer service.  
  4.     Logistics: Buyers are demanding. They expect a delivery plan that is not only cheap (33% in Poland), or even free, but also extremely quick.

How do these factors influence the buyer’s behavior?

All the factors above are crucial for the buyer to decide which online store they are most willing to buy from. The final decision is driven by an additional filtering process:

  •    Security: how sensitive information such as payment details and other personal information are stored in your database. This is important not only in CEE but worldwide.

What are the best practices to ensure user data protection?

  1. Use a 3rd party service for hosting
  2. Use an SSL to secure sensitive data
  3. Perform regular backups of your data
  4. Switch to HTTPS protocol
  5. Avoid storing credit card details
  •    Privacy: how personal information is made available for 3rd party companies

How to ensure a compliant privacy policy?

  1. Create a clear and concise statement of your privacy policy
  2. Make it available to visitors through links on your website
  3. You may provide a seal of approval from a privacy program to ensure the buyers of your reliability.
  •    Trustworthiness: This in particular appears to be a major barrier in CEE. This is a crucial element to generate a positive relationship with the buyer. CEE buyers tend to give more trust to local sellers (i.e., or in the Czech Republic, or in Poland, and or in Hungary).

Online buyers are becoming more aware of the risk associated with making online purchases and also of what might happen with their data online. How can you build solid trust with your buyers?

  1. Provide responsive and excellent customer support
  2. Define a clear return policy
  3. Keep all promises made on your website
  4. Respect and follow the market requirements


Understanding the consumer’s motivation may be a long-term challenge. Throughout a buyer’s journey, there are different factors alerting and influencing the final decision that drives them to an actual purchase. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Try to evaluate your current strategy and user experience from your buyer’s perspective:

What do your buyers need?

How do they wish to experience their journey as buyers?

What can you do to build a strong, long-term relationship?

CEE is a fast-growing e-commerce market. Their trust and needs must be taken care of through a deep knowledge of this environment. As a seller, taking into consideration general human factors is absolutely an additional value, but acting according to the specific needs of this market is essential.

Do Central and Eastern Europe need to build mutual trust in terms of payment method?

If so, try to be open to multiple payment methods including paying cash on delivery. They will trust and appreciate your open-minded approach.

Do your buyers have more trust in a hands-on test of your product?

Try to be creative. If they cannot physically test your product, try to be as detailed as possible, with high-quality images of your products and a complete description. Also, a clear and thorough return policy would provide additional and powerful solutions to your customers.

Do your buyers in CEE require a cheap and quick delivery method?

You may offer them an occasional promotion and discount on quick delivery methods and offer multiple options to please different markets at the same time.

Regardless of what your strategy is, try to be creative and never stop experimenting!

Author avatar

Simone Santarelli
Simone is a freelance content writer, copywriter and PR manager. His work includes contents for marketing start-up, online magazine, and his own blog. E-mail:

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