Gender optimisation: how women and men shop online

What user groups like to shop at your online store? Who are the personas you are optimising your shop for? Have you considered what it means if the majority of your users are male or female? True, gender stereotypes are reductive and users notice when they’re not taken seriously. But the majority of men and the majority of women do share similar preferences when it comes to shopping online.

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Before making assumptions, it’s always best to check the most recent studies and statistics to find the best way to appeal to each gender. The good news is we’ve already looked at (and digested) the latest research for you, and we’ve even condensed the basics into this handy blog post.

Men spend more money

Although women tend to spend more money than men on fashion, men have a greater overall monthly spend at £686 vs. £475. This may be caused by men having more disposable income than women, who are generally in charge of household budgets, but could also be due to women spending more of their money offline. Studies suggest that women are multi-channel shoppers, switching between bricks and clicks. Women’s budgets are slowly shifting from offline to online, so online retailers do have potential to acquire that ‘lost’ revenue.

Women spend more time

We'll be exploring the male and female approaches to online shopping in-depth later in this series, but they can be summed up respectively as ‘utilitarian’ and ‘hedonistic’. For a man, online shopping is a simple task that needs to be finished quickly so that he can move on to more enjoyable things. He’ll buy the first suitable product he finds, while a woman will spend time hunting for the perfect purchase. This perfectionism stretches to budget, too, as women are much more likely than men to spend ‘somewhat more’ than they’d originally planned to get their hands on that ideal product.


woman taking the long explorative route to a purchase, man the short quick route


Women enjoy exploring your website

Men tend to shop alone and know exactly what they’re looking for when they land on your website. Women are more likely to shop for other people as well as themselves and can be enticed to explore your site based on social media adverts and recommendations from friends. They’ll do their research before they make their final purchase, spending time reading reviews, comparing rival products, and asking for opinions. They’re more likely than men to buy something that’s been reduced (74% vs. 54%), and will go out of their way to find a bargain.

Men are more likely to shop on-the-go

While both genders tend to prefer shopping from their laptops, men are more likely to shop on their mobile (45% vs 34%). Interestingly, this figure fluctuates. Men were the original pioneers of online shopping, but were overtaken by women when online shops started to optimise their stores for tablet users. Although men are back in the lead now, this could easily change in the future if mobile shops become better optimised.


man on the go with bike, woman on sofa with coffee


Most shops are still geared towards male customers

Although things are starting to change, most ecommerce sites are laid out in a way that’s more attractive to the utilitarian male shopper – it’s easy to find what you’re looking for and get in and out without spending too much time on-site. While keeping your ecommerce site easy-to-navigate is definitely important for your conversion rates, it’s also important (and better for SEO) if you include inspirational content to keep your hedonistic female shoppers coming back. This could include visual content that can be shared across social media, aspirational blog posts that encourage visitors to daydream about your products, and key information telling customers exactly why they should buy this particular product.

Considering gender optimisation

Giving your target group the best possible experience is one of the main ideas behind ecommerce web design, so tailoring customer journeys for specific genders is something to consider. When you’re defining your target group, gender is just one of several characteristics to look at, along with age and occupation. Depending on what you’re selling, gender could be a major factor in the design of your webshop. This approach doesn’t need to be homogenous, either – some online shops apply different gendered approaches to specific categories and products within one website.

Find out more: optimising your ecommerce site for each gender.

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At Mercurytide we believe in making e-commerce work for everyone, the customer and the business. That’s why we have developed an ecommerce approach to rapidly deliver everything you’d expect from an e-commerce website, but fully bespoke to match all your needs.

If you want to know a bit more about how we can help you optimise your ecommerce site for your target audience, or just chat about how we can help you to increase conversations overall,

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