Online shopping and gender differences

genderOnline shopping is becoming more and more common for everyone, all around the world, and although it used to be more popular with women, today men shop online just as much as women (about three quarters of both genders shop online at least once a month).

Men prefer online shopping to in-store shopping

In fact, the majority of men prefer to do their shopping online. This probably has a lot to do with the fact that men, in general, have never enjoyed traditional shopping as much as women. For them, online shopping is lower maintenance, faster and more efficient, so it solves most of the issues they find with shopping at the store or mall (it’s time consuming and inefficient). Women, on the other hand, actually enjoy the experience of shopping itself. This can be a challenge for online retailers and sellers, as they have to find a way to cater to both the male clients (who want a fast, easy and efficient experience) and the female clients (who want a fun, social and comprehensive experience).

Researching items and deals

Women also tend to spend more time browsing and shopping for deals and bargains (free shipping, discounts, etc.) or using coupons. In fact, in general it is more important to women than to men to make sure they are getting the best price available and they are willing to invest time into their price research. Men like to do their research as well, but it is less related to deals than to the features of the products they want to purchase. This could have something to do with the fact while women tend to search for specific brands (they know exactly what they want, and want to find the best deal on that particular brand), men are more interested in shopping for a particular product (and not a particular brand). That doesn’t mean they want to find the best price on that item, but rather the one that seems to offer the best quality or appears to be more compatible with their needs and what they’re looking for in the product.

Are men more desirable customers?

In addition to the growth of online shopping among men, they are actually becoming more desirable customers for online retailers and sellers for a few reasons. First of all, men tend to spend more when they shop online, and in less time. This is probably because they buy electronics and other high-priced items more often than women. In fact, while the average price of an item bought online by a woman is around $51, the average price of an item purchases online by a man is valued at around $68. Men also make faster decisions than women because they don’t like to spend too much time browsing or thinking about their purchase. This is actually similar to gender shopping behavior in stores as well (men tend to want to get in and get out, while women don’t mind browsing and enjoying the shopping experience). In fact, while the average woman takes 14 minutes online to complete a purchase, a man takes only 10 minutes.

Men are desirable customers for another reason as well: they return items less often than woman do. In fact, while women tend to return around 20% of their online purchases, men return just half of that amount. Also, if a man does return a purchase, they usually do it immediately, and sooner than women do. The average return time for a man is 21 days, while it’s 30 days for a woman.

Age and gender

Age also plays a role in the online shopping habits of men and women. Men tend to spend more than women during specific periods in their lives: when they are young (18-20) and then they are in their mid-thirties to mid-forties. When men and women are both in their twenties, women surpass men on the amount they spend online, and they surpass them again in the mid-forties to mid-fifties age range. Spending habits become more or less equal when the sexes reach their sixties.

When do men and women shop online?

Are there differences between when men and women shop online? Yes, there certainly are. While women tend to shop the most around the time of their lunch break (noon), men prefer the evening (around 7pm). Also, while women tend to shop more on the weekends or mid-week (Thursdays), men tend to do their spending on Mondays and Tuesdays, and also on Fridays. This could imply that while both sexes browse on the weekends, the men take a day or two to think about it, and then make the purchase at the start of the week. This could be partly why men have shorter transactions (maybe they visit the site more than once before making a decision which could distort results of transaction times).

Other preferences and habits

In terms of the visual and advertising aspects that men and women find appealing when browsing online websites to shop on: both sexes prefer the color blue, and both sexes do not particularly like the color orange. Females tend to like to see websites with purple, while men hate this color. Women prefer soft colors, whereas men prefer bright colors. Also, women are more responsive to email campaigns than men (twice as many women as men are directed to a purchase from a marketing email).

In terms of the devices used to shop, there are some gender differences in this area as well. While men tend to use laptops and desktop computers to shop, females tend to use their mobile devices more often than men.

Women are more likely to shop for emotional reasons (usually in the hopes of improving their mood) and their purchase of choice in this respect is usually clothes. If men shop online for emotional reasons, they usually buy food.

Another interesting difference between the online shopping behavior of men and of women is that men are more likely to leave reviews on the items they’ve purchased on the websites where they purchased them. However, women are more likely to recommend a product they like to their friends and contacts on social media.

While sites like Amazon and eBay have just about the same percentage of male and female shoppers, the website Esty has a predominantly female customer-base.

Both men and women enjoy shopping online, and do it often, although their habits and behaviors do differ. This presents an opportunity as well as a challenge for online retailers and sellers that cater to both sexes.