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Unraveling Human Nature in eCommerce: Hunters, Collectors, and the Art of Online Discovery

Updated: Mar 21, 2023

While hunters are driven by the need to find the desired item immediately, casual collectors are more open to exploring a variety of products along the way. Category searchers prefer to go directly to a specific category page, but are open to viewing a wide range of relevant products. LEARN now, how to create satisfying shopping experiences for both types of shoppers.


Find Your Perfect High-Waisted Jeans or Vintage Dior Bag in the Blink of an Eye - The eCommerce Search Reflects Your Human Nature

When shopping online, it is common to use words like "hunt" and "scour" in search of desired items. After all, this is related to our basic instincts as hunters and gatherers.

Whether we are looking for the perfect pair of high-waisted jeans or a vintage Dior handbag, the ability to find the right product quickly is essential. On the other hand, when we are just browsing, we are looking for an engaging and inspiring experience.


For brands and retailers, understanding the human nature of shoppers is key to creating a product discovery experience that delivers a great customer experience and drives conversions. With eCommerce constantly evolving, it is critical to provide customers with an unforgettable shopping experience, whether through fast and efficient search or through an engaging and inspiring browsing experience.

So whether you are looking for the vintage handbag of your dreams or a pair of high-waisted jeans, know that technology is on your side. Try it now and enjoy an online shopping experience that perfectly matches your human nature!

Meet Today's Hunters and Gatherers Our ancient ancestors, the hunters and gatherers, had different methods of obtaining food. At times, depending on where they were located and which animals were nearby, they would go out to hunt animals. When hunting, success depended on staying focused on the target and acting quickly. At other times, they would gather fruits and wild plants that could provide sustenance.


Although our methods of obtaining food on a daily basis have changed dramatically since that time, the mindsets and instincts we have when searching for something we want or need remain largely intact. Even when shopping for non-essential items, such as the beloved vintage handbag, those instincts come into play.


In the eCommerce world, hunters and gatherers look like this:

The shopper with a mission: These are the "hunters" who know exactly what they want - say, the blue dress they saw their friend wearing last night at dinner. They are already inspired, ready to spend, and don't want to be disappointed. The casual browsers: These are the "collectors. They are comfortable with a slower pace of product discovery, are open to more discoveries along the way, and are looking for inspiration. The category scanner: These are the ones who want a certain type of product, say, new running shoes, but are less specific when it comes to attributes such as brand, color or style. Think of them as the "more relaxed" version of the mission-driven buyer.


Each of these buyers has the same goal - to buy the right product for them. However, each individual also has distinct expectations and standards regarding the discovery experience that leads them there.

While hunters want to be immediately connected to the item they want, casual browsers are more open to discovering a variety of products along the way. Category searchers will go straight to a specific category page, but are open to viewing a wide range of relevant SKUs.


Moreover, it is rare to find a shopper who fits exclusively into one of these categories. Today's consumers alternate between hunter and collector tendencies, depending on their contexts and needs at the time. As a result, brands need to be prepared to provide an amazing product discovery experience for all shopping styles at any given time.

Discover the Tactics of 21st Century Hunters and Gatherers


Our ancestors, the hunters and gatherers, used different methods to obtain food. They hunted animals and gathered wild fruits and plants, depending on the location and available resources. Despite significant changes in modern methods of obtaining food, our instincts and mindset when we search for something we want or need remain largely intact. These instincts come into play even when shopping for non-essential items, such as a desired vintage handbag.


In the eCommerce world, modern hunters and collectors fall into three categories:

  • Shoppers with a mission: These are the "hunters" who know exactly what they want and don't want to waste any time. They are already inspired and ready to spend, and aim to find the right product without delay.

  • Casual browsers: These are the "collectors" who are comfortable with a slower pace of product discovery, looking for inspiration, and open to discovering new possibilities along the way.

  • Category explorers: These are the ones who have a general idea of what they are looking for, but are not very specific in terms of brand, color or style. They look for a wide range of products within a category.

Each category of shoppers has its own shopping style, expectations and standards for the product discovery experience. Hunters want to find the desired item quickly, while casual browsers are open to discovering new possibilities. Category explorers seek to find a variety of products within a category.


It is important to note that many shoppers do not fit exclusively into a single category. Modern consumers switch between shopping styles according to their needs and interests at the time. Therefore, brands need to be prepared to provide an amazing product discovery experience for all shopping styles at all times. Discover the tactics of modern hunters and collectors to provide an enjoyable and satisfying shopping experience.


Providing highly personalized product recommendations Modern consumers, who are increasingly aware of their profile and preferences, expect truly personalized product recommendations. When search results feature product listings that perfectly match the shopper's style, taste and context, shoppers feel more engaged with the brand or retailer. In addition, providing accurate recommendations is more likely to inspire shoppers to click on an item, add it to their cart, and make a purchase.


Focus on optimizing the user experience Online consumers are impatient and want to find what they are looking for quickly. Therefore, one of the main goals of an e-commerce site is to eliminate dead ends. Nothing interrupts the shopping experience like a dead end. If shoppers don't find what they're looking for, aren't inspired, and find no reason to continue browsing your site, they will quickly abandon it. Therefore, optimizing the user experience is key to keeping visitors engaged and increasing the chances of conversion.

You can still keep them engaged and interested with some effective tactics.

Increase your chances of keeping your customers around, even in challenging situations. If the product the shopper wants is out of stock, don't worry.


Adding a "buy similar" option is a smart way to introduce shoppers to other SKUs that match the style and context of the originally desired product. This strategy helps keep the customer's attention, as well as increasing the chances of purchase. You can also use "buy the look" recommendation carousels, which connect shoppers to other items complementary to the originally desired product. These accurate and relevant recommendations can be inspiring enough to convince the shopper to make an additional purchase.


By using these tactics at critical times, such as on error pages or with no results, new product discovery keeps flowing, which increases the likelihood of converting casual shoppers into collectors. These options are important for maintaining the energy of your online store and ensuring that customers remain engaged and happy. Remember, it is always easier to keep a satisfied customer than to attract a new one.

The Development of People-Focused Product Discovery.

When considering product discovery, the most crucial aspect is: does the experience match the way today's consumers shop?

Put another way, product discovery must be designed to adapt to the ways in which we humans naturally search for desired items. It should always support us when we are clear about what we are looking for and inspire us when we only have a general idea of what we want.


Companies and retailers that achieve this will enjoy the benefits of exceptional customer experiences, increasing sales and building a reputation for genuine understanding of their customers' needs.


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