Men and Women Shop Differently Online. Here’s How to Market to Them

September 18, 2014 Rieva Lesonsky

mobile shopping

When you think about the typical shopper on your ecommerce site, do you assume it’s a woman? That could be a smart guess considering that women control as much as 85 percent of the average U.S. household’s spending, according to some reports. But the typical ecommerce shopper is nearly as likely to be a man as a woman—and if you’re talking about mobile shopping, men dominate.

Arecent report by BI Intelligence report analyzed data about ecommerce and mobile shopping from several organizations. Here’s what they found:

Last year 57 percent of U.S. women and 52 percent of men bought something online. However, men are more likely to make purchases on their smartphones and tablets than are women. More than one-fifth (22 percent) of men made a purchase on their phone last year, compared to 18 percent of women. And 20 percent of men made purchases on tablets, compared to 17 percent of women.

How do men and women behave when it comes to mobile shopping? There are some important differences.

Men have far less patience than women with poor mobile shopping experiences. Issues such as navigation problems, slow Internet connections and too-small screens are more likely to make men give up shopping on their mobile devices.

Women, in contrast, typically give up making a purchase not because they’re frustrated with the shopping experience on their mobile device, but because they can’t decide what to buy. Nearly two-thirds of women, compared to about one-fourth of men, say they like to browse a lot before making a purchase on a tablet. The study refers to this as “classic shopping behavior,” and any husband who’s ever been dragged around a shopping mall as his wife looks at black shoes in 20 different stores, only to leave empty-handed, can certainly relate.

On the other hand, when women do buy something on a mobile device, they’re savings-savvy about it. Women are 43 percent more likely to seek sales or discounts when shopping on mobile devices. Perhaps as a result of women’s frugal behavior, men in the study spent more than women, on average, when they purchased items on mobile devices.

Looks like this trend isn’t going away: The study found that Millennials spend more online than any other demographic in the study, despite having lower income. In addition, among teenagers, boys are more likely to report using ecommerce than girls, with 86 percent of teenage boys and 76 percent of girls saying they shop online.

How can you use this information to improve your mobile marketing and mobile shopping experience?

  • Make sure your website loads fast on mobile devices, especially if you sell products that appeal to men—they’ll be even less likely than most people to wait around. While you’re at it, ensure that checkout is quick and easy.
  • Consider offering more sales and promotions on products that women buy, and keeping men’s items full-price or offering fewer sales.
  • If you sell female-oriented products, make sure the mobile experience lends itself to enjoyable browsing, with multiple pictures of products, plenty of reviews and even videos of items being used or worn. The more information women have, the better.

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Author information

Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at, follow her on Google+ and, and visit her website,, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.

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