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Brittany Sep 2, 2021 13 min read

12 holiday shopper personas you need to be ready for in 2021

We all know that 2020 was an unusual year for holiday shopping, but it's unlikely holiday shopping patterns in 2021 will be business as usual. 

If anything, one of Covid-19's lasting impacts on our world will be a permanent change in buying behaviors. Online retail sales increased 32.4% year over year in 2020, and were already up 39% in Q1 2021. In fact nearly 1 in 5 retail purchases were made online, a 3% increase from 2019. 

Whether you're operating an online-only ecommerce store, a brick & mortar business, or an omnichannel retail model, it's more important than ever to understand what's going through your customers' minds and what major ecommerce trends are worth paying attention to as you gear up for another busy holiday shopping season. 

12 holiday shopper personas you need to be ready for in 2021 1500x875px

Holiday season 2020 challenges you need to plan for

What lessons were learned from the 2020 holiday season for retailers? Quite a few. Most notably, logistics and fulfillment became a major pain for retailers, shipping companies, and customers alike. 

  • Returns: It might be harder for customers to get to the post office in a reasonable amount of time. Not only that, but shipping providers might be backlogged getting products back to you. Be generous and fair in your return policies this year to avoid frustrated customers.
  • Shipping: Guaranteed delivery dates weren't so guaranteed with the overwhelming surge in online shopping during the 2020 holiday season. Make sure you've got your holiday shipping cutoff dates confirmed, and consider being extra safe by making those cutoffs a day or two earlier. You may also want to investigate alternative delivery options, like local couriers to fulfill from local retail locations. 
  • BOPIS: Have a brick & mortar location? Make sure you've investigated options for customers to pick up products in a hurry from their local retailer. Bonus points if you can ship products for free from your warehouse to your retail locations.
  • Tight budgets: The financial impacts of Covid are still being felt in 2021. Give customers' bank accounts a break by offering up promotions or instalment payments to ensure everyone can have a happy holiday. 

Get our ebook: The ultimate guide to personalizing buyer experiences

2021 12 types of holiday shoppers

Never mind the 12 days of Christmas. Get to know the 12 ecommerce shoppers that will be flooding your store during peak season. We've broken down who they are, what they want, and how you can tailor your site experience to entice them to convert and spend their money with you during this competitive time. 

The early birdThe early bird
Who they are: It only makes sense to look at the first holiday shoppers to hit your stores - the type of people who see Halloween candy on the shelves as a signal to kickstart their holiday hustle.
What they want: 
  • Early access to your gift guides
  • An understanding of your bestsellers 
  • Long return policies 
  • To avoid the disappointment of an item selling out!

How to tailor your site:
  • Present your bestsellers on your home page (learn more here!)
  • Use grid-style recommendations before your holiday-specific gift guides go live
  • Create a gift-worthy site experience for customers once they show an interest in gift-giving using Segmented Experiences (learn how to here!)
  • Run an A/B test promoting your gift guides early in the holiday shopping season to get a sense of how many early birds you've got 
  • Promote bundles of items that work well together in advance of your formal holiday gift guides 
The shipping-first shopper
Who they are: Once these customers find something they want on your site - possibly before they even start browsing! - their second click is more than likely going to be on your shipping policy. Customers concerned about shipping want to know what options you've got, how fast it'll get there, and what your shipping cutoff times, whether they're shopping well in advance of the holidays or cutting it close. 
What they want: 
  • Free shipping! With the exception of big-ticket items, if you don't offer it, you'll more than likely lose them 
  • Multiple shipping options based on cost and speed 
  • BOPIS options 
How to tailor your site: 
  • Promote your shipping policy on your site's hello bar, pop-ups, and PDPs
  • Include a countdown for how many days are left to get guaranteed delivery 
  • Provide free shipping promotions or spending threshold incentives and promote them in the cart (ideas on how to do this here!) 
  • Use LimeSpot's Segmented Experiences module to promote your shipping policy front and center to customers who have visited your shipping policy page
The self-gifter

Who they are: We often focus on gift givers during the holiday season, but remember that about half your traffic is logically going to be people browsing for themselves, especially on sites they already shop on. Whether they write a formal multi-store list, drop a few hints to family members, or create a wish list on your site, you want to make the gift inspiration on your site equally inspiring. Let's not forget that they might also end up snapping up a couple of must-have items before the holidays hit anyway (we're not judging!) 

What they want: 
  • Generous return policies in case they treat themselves to something someone else buys them
  • Gift suggestions specific to them
  • Super covetable items they can't resist picking up for themselves
  • Wish list functionality
How to tailor your site: 
  • Use LimeSpot's grid-style recommendations to serve up a selection of products tailored to your customers' past buying behavior 
  • Add Recently Viewed boxes to the bottom of every page to remind shoppers of items they were interested in so they can easily add them to their wish list 
  • Use You May Like recommendation boxes on PDPs to give even more inspiration for items a customer may want to buy for themselves 
The big spender

Who they are: The holiday season is like The Olympics for some shoppers and big spenders are on the hunt for the most fabulous gift ideas they can scout. Money is no object, but customer service is imperative. This shopper is busy checking names off their list and it's up to you to make sure they have a sublime spending experience. Big spenders have actually increased during the Covid-19 pandemic, as many people are finding their spending curtailed in other areas (travel, entertainment, clothes) and have more in the bank to spend on gifts for loved ones. 

What they want: 
  • Excellent and clear shipping and return policies 
  • Social proof to make them feel confident in their purchases
  • A shopping experience that surprises and delights them
How to tailor your site: 
  • Add in recommendations to your Ajax shopping cart to top up average order value
  • Integrate your 'Most Popular' or 'Trending' recommendations with a reviews platform to highlight what items are beloved by customers
  • Promote your one-of-a-kind gift ideas in a Featured Collection
  • Present last-minute offers in the cart and at checkout (Shopify+ and BigCommerce only)
The cutback Covid customer

Who they are: The reality is, Covid has harmed more people's financial situation than it has helped. For the second year in a row, many consumers may find themselves exercising more self-restraint than usual for the holidays. This could mean less money spent per person, or less gifts bought, period. Make this price-sensitive group feel valued and they'll happily return once their bank account is in better shape. 

What they want: 
  • Wow gifts on a restricted budget
  • Free shipping
  • Easy extras and add-ons that won't break the bank
How to tailor your site: 
  • Create a collection of your price-savvy items and spotlight it on your home page using LimeSpot's Featured Collection boxes
  • Provide low-cost cross-sells and upsells in the cart or at checkout (checkout recommendations available with Shopify+ and BigCommerce only) 
  • Include 1:1 personalized recommendations on PDPs that prioritize cost to help customers find things in their price range (learn how to target products better here)
  • Offer installment payments through popular platforms like Klarna, Afterpay, or Sezzle
  • Promote an 'essentials' collection that can be dressed up with gift packs or even gift wrapping (ex: basic tees over sparkly sweaters or a vitamin multi-pack) 
The thinker

Who they are: Millennials may have spearheaded the movement to be more conscious shoppers, but their influence has spread up to older generations, and is becoming the standard for Gen Z. Whether it's supporting the 'Buy Local' movement, seeking out stores with legitimate sustainability policies, or shopping with BIPOC businesses, this shopper's focus is to put their dollars behind businesses they actually care about backing. 

What they want: 
  • Clear and proven commitment to a cause or stance 
  • A connection to your brand, founder, or owner 
  • Social proof that your brand is trustworthy
How to tailor your site: 
  • Segment customers that visit your brand content pages and prioritize content related to their interests on your PDPs using Segmented Experiences
  • Create a Featured Collection that appears on the home page and focuses on products related to your brand promise
  • Include a callout on your PDPs that speaks to how each product supports your brand promise or charitable initiatives 
  • Spotlight third-party validation that your social policies are legitimate
  • Integrate LimeSpot with the reviews provider of your choice to highlight your top-rated products
  • Offer the opportunity to make a donation at checkout (you can use LimeSpot to present this as an upsell!) 
  • Promote your Giving Tuesday activities prominently 
The loyalist
Who they are: This one's easy! Your most loyal shoppers are the people who come to you time and again for gift inspiration; a holiday rarely passes where they aren't at least browsing, if not buying from you. However, it's important not to take your most loyal customers for granted. Make sure their holiday experience is just as memorable and enjoyable as their regular shopping trips to retain those customers for the even longer-term.
What they want: 
  • A personalized shopping experience
  • Rewards and bonuses for being a loyal patron
  • Free shipping 
How to tailor your site: 
  • Place recommendation boxes in the customer account center so they can see fresh new gift ideas while checking up on their existing orders 
  • Integrate LimeSpot with the loyalty program of your choice to highlight the potential loyalty rewards a customer can get with your recommended products 
  • Present offers, messages, or collections to customers based on their loyalty program tier using Segmented Experiences 
  • Promote and host special events for different segments such as livestreams or classes 
The cautious explorer
Who they are: Think of this persona as the opposite of your loyalists. They are new to your store, and might even be newer to online shopping overall. They may also be concerned about an uncertain future in terms of their personal spending or income. This customer persona is much more likely to leave your site and explore elsewhere before committing to a purchase. Give them the warmest welcome possible so they trust your brand above others, even if their shopping journeys take them elsewhere.
What they want: 
  • A clear understanding of your shipping and return policies 
  • A guide to your bestsellers
  • Free shipping
  • Money-back guarantees
  • Third-party certification (ex: TrustPilot)
  • Warranties
  • Easy return policies
How to tailor your site: 
  • Present your bestsellers on your home page and collection pages (learn more here!)
  • Link to your return policy on all PDPs
  • 1:1 personalized recommendations presented high up on PDPs (box placement tips here)
  • Create a curated collection of gift ideas on a budget
  • Include Recently Viewed boxes on all pages to make their return visit seamless 
The social butterfly
Who they are: Social proof is key for this type of shopper. They'll likely land on your site from social media, whether it's an ad or a sponsored post you build with an influencer. Once they're on your site, they'll want to know others are loving and using your product. 
What they want: 
  • Lots of (trusted) reviews
  • Third-party verification that your site is trusted
  • UGC
  • Curated Collections
  • To know what's trending on your site
How to tailor your site: 
  • Create a custom landing page for customers arriving from an influencer's link, including their review, photos, and discount code, using Segmented Experiences
  • Integrate LimeSpot recommendations with the reviews provider of your choice to spotlight star ratings on products 
  • Curate your collections to promote products recommended by influencers for customers that have arrived from a social referral, using Segmented Experiences
  • Promote Trending products on emails or on-site 
  • Use pop-ups to spotlight items beloved by influencers or your top-rated products
  • Highlight the loyalty points your shoppers will earn on recommended products when you integrate LimeSpot with your loyalty program 
  • Host virtual pop-ups or influencer livestreams on-site and promote them to audiences that have arrived on your site from an influencer
The procrastinator 
Who they are: Hey we've all been there - you look at the calendar and suddenly it's a week (or less!) before Christmas and you realize you've got pretty much no time to shop. Or worse, you actually did shop in advance, but that item you preordered or picked up from abroad seems to be showing no signs of actually arriving in your mailbox and you're pinched to find a replacement gift. No matter what, these shoppers need a great gift idea and they need it fast.
What they want: 
  • Expedited shipping options
  • BOPIS options
  • A shortcut to finding the best products for them
  • Gift cards
How to tailor your site: 
  • Promote your Trending products on the home page to help last-minute shoppers find your top-selling products right here and now 
  • Include a free shipping progress bar in your cart (smart tips on how to do this here!) 
  • Promote shopping guides to point them in the right direction 
  • Use grid-style recommendations or curated collections to provide a tailored collection of your top gift ideas tailored to a what a customer is showing interest in 

The discount and deal hunter
Who they are: Some people are going to put price first, not because they're on a budget, but because they simply don't want to pay full price. They will stalk your site daily until the price is right, and are the most likely to convert when you present them with an offer. 
What they want: 
  • Savings! 
  • Early access to your sales and promotions
  • Not to feel 'cheated' once they buy an item
  • Good return policies
How to tailor your site: 
  • Promote a Featured Collection on your home page and product pages that highlights items currently on sale
  • Use Segmented Experiences to promote coupon codes to audiences that show an interest in your promotions
  • Present a discount or early access opportunity in an email signup pop-up 
  • Offer a price adjustment policy
  • Create an interactive experience that turns bargain hunting into a game 
The clueless 
Who they are: Plain and simple, your clueless shopper is flying blind. They're likely completely unfamiliar with your brand and need a helping hand to point them in the right direction. What's the right amount to spend? What products will someone love? You're their shopping sherpa! 
What they want: 
  • Helpful gift guides
  • Detailed product descriptions
  • 'Sure thing' gift ideas
  • Clearly specified policies (returns, shipping, etc.) 
How to tailor your site: 
  • Present your Most Popular and Trending Items on the home page to give clueless shoppers a fantastic first click
  • Promote 1:1 Personalized Recommendations like Frequently Bought Together or Related Items at the top of PDP pages
  • Include recommendation boxes at the top of your collection pages 
  • Use one-click bundles to boost AOV from every PDP

Get our ebook: The ultimate guide to personalizing buyer experiences

Are you ready for the 2021 holiday shopping season?

We're here to help. Install LimeSpot's 1:1 Recommendations today (if you haven't already) to level up your personalized shopping experience. Or book a demo with our team to get the lowdown on our entire personalization suite. 


Already a client? Our Support team is always here to help you get your site up for success this holiday season. 





Brittany is LimeSpot's Enterprise Marketing Manager who loves all things ecommerce, optimization, and writing - making her the perfect guru to walk you through even better ways to use LimeSpot's personalization suite.