Portrait of an Online Shopper: Understanding and Predicting Consumer Behavior

Feb 22, 2016

Consumer spending accounts for a large fraction of economic footprint of modern countries. Increasingly, consumer activity is moving to the web, where digital receipts of online purchases provide valuable data sources detailing consumer behavior. We consider such data extracted from emails and combined with consumers’ demographic information, which we use to characterize, model, and predict purchasing behavior. We analyze such behavior of consumers in different age and gender groups, and find interesting, actionable patterns that can be used to improve ad targeting systems. For example, we found that the amount of money spent on online purchases grows sharply with age, peaking in the late 30s, while shoppers from wealthy areas tend to purchase more expensive items and buy them more frequently. Furthermore, we look at the influence of social connections on purchasing habits, as well as at the temporal dynamics of online shopping where we discovered daily and weekly behavioral patterns. Finally, we build a model to predict when shoppers are most likely to make a purchase and how much will they spend, showing improvement over baseline approaches. The presented results paint a clear picture of a modern online shopper, and allow better understanding of consumer behavior that can help improve marketing efforts and make shopping more pleasant and efficient experience for online customers.

  • Proceedings of the 9th ACM International Conference on Web Search and Data Mining (WSDM 2016)
  • Conference/Workshop Paper