The real question on retailers’ minds is, why do customers choose to buy something? If they could get into their heads, their lives would be a lot easier, as they would be able to clearly see what impacts a buyer’s purchasing decisions.

Although the consumer may not do it deliberately, they are being influenced by a huge range of factors when they are making a purchasing decision. Some of these factors the retailers can influence, and some of them are outside of their control.

These factors may be different for each individual, with each person creating mental shortcuts to help them make a choice: to buy or not to buy. Let’s take a closer look at some of the key factors.

  • Culture - Culture can influence what a consumer is looking to buy and could be described as a set of preferences and ideologies of a particular community. At a very early age, buyers understand what sort of choices others in their community are making, and it is very likely that they will be influenced by these decisions.
  • Colors - Colors have much more of an impact on a buyer’s purchasing decisions than a retailer might think. Although people obviously prefer different colors, colors come with universal meanings that we are only subconsciously aware of. For example, bright colors such as yellow and red are used to indicate sale items, blue instills a sense of trust, and black a sense of luxury.
  • Shipping - Studies have shown that the cost of shipping significantly influences a shopper’s decision, and this cost can account for over 50% of shoppers abandoning their carts. When given the choice, most people would rather increase their order amount to qualify for free shipping. This makes free shipping one of the most successful marketing tools available to online retailers.
  • Return Policy - In addition to shipping costs, many shoppers also take into consideration the price and method of return. Obviously, if an online company offers free returns, then customers are more likely to take the risk and buy a product. Similarly, if there is an easy returns process, this can have the same effect.

These are just a few of the many things that will influence a customer’s purchasing decision. The process is a complicated one, and retailers should gather as much information as they can in order to market their products effectively. The infographic below shares more detail.

Josh Wardini is Editorial Contributor and Community Manager at With a preliminary background in communication and expertise in community development, Josh works day-to-day to reshape the human resource management of digitally based companies. When his focus trails outside of community engagement, Josh enjoys the indulgences of writing amidst the nature conservations of Portland, Oregon.