Discovery marketing and shopping

By Yuval Ginor, Apr 04,2021

Discovery marketing and shopping drives up sales and increases product exposure. While it may shorten the customers’ attention span, in the long run this segment of customers purchases a lot with a higher than average shopping cart value.
One big advantage online stores have over traditional brick-and-mortar stores is that online shopping allows customers to find exactly what they are searching for, quickly and easily.

At the same time, many online shoppers visit marketplaces without really knowing what they want to buy or any specific intent. For them, browsing an online store replaced the physical act of window shopping and especially during the COVID 19 pandemic marketplace or shopping browsing turned into an entertainment form. This type of customer, lets call him a ‘browser’ comprises a major segment in the population of online shoppers in the ecommerce world, especially in recent years.  They want to site to entertain them, discover new products, see what item catches their eye, or if there are any special promotions that a retailer may offer them. 

Defining Discovery Marketing

Discovery marketing is an ecommerce sales tactic, in which the seller leads the customer to a certain product or product range. 

The opposite side of discovery marketing is discovery shopping, when a customer just browses the store, without any particular product in mind. This customer is looking for an exciting find, or an appealing recommendation. 

Discovery marketing is somewhat like organizing your store’s front window and shelves. Instead of the direct and efficient approach that sometimes characterized ecommerce, discovery marketing caters to the traditional window shopping - taking you for a stroll, and showing you different products until a match pops up. 

Product Discovery

Discovery marketing sets you up in a position to take on one of ecommore’s most elusive objectives: product discovery. 

Leading customers through the store, to the product they want to buy, is by no means an easy task. Although ‘browsers’ aren’t looking for something specific, they tend to be reluctant to browse through thousands of products, spread over multiple categories and subcategories. And since they don’t have any specific product on mind, the search option becomes useless as well.  

The core of discovery marketing is giving customers the freedom to discover new products by providing them with relevant, not intrusive information, and the ability to easily sort through it. A site navigation infrastructure that offers a variety of attributes and value is the best way to achieve it. 

When shopping for a shirt, basic attributes, such as ‘Size’ and ‘Color’, though still important, are not enough anymore. Today’s online shoppers want to browse the materials, patterns, sleeve lengths and necklines on offer, before deciding to buy a shirt. This is due to the fact that most of the ‘’Browsers’ purchases are made on impulse and not a need, thus in order to trigger this impulse a more diverse stimuli is required. Of course this is applicable to a wide variety of different product categories. Browsing and impulse purchasing can be seen in gadgets, audio equipment, wines and even car parts and accessories. The more simple and efficient this browsing process is - the better the customer experience and site performance.

Benefits of discovery shopping

Attract more potential buyers

Offering your customers more product information and the ability to easily sort through it with attributes, will help them discover products they haven’t thought about. Attribute navigation is the most efficient way to lead customers to new or little known brands or products.  

In fact, a study conducted by Walker Information reveals that nowaday, the shopping experience is much more important for online shoppers than the price.  

Discovering new brands and products

When customers find a product they like in your store, it will lead them to develop an interest in other products you sell that might be a match for them. This will create more traffic for your store, and will surely improve the performance of your store. 

This is also the place for sellers to try more marketing tactics, such as cross-selling, by guiding the customers to related products, or to products other customers recommended. 

Collecting material information 

A well structured attribute infrastructure gives the seller a better insight to what interests customers. Attributes not only provide information for the shoppers, but also provide the sellers information about their customers’ preferences. 

Types of discovery shopping

Essential Products

In this category of products, such as everyday consumption products or food, customers come to the store with a rather clear idea of what they want to buy. That is why the use of discovery marketing in this category of products must be direct and easily accessible, so that customers can quickly get all the information they need before buying. It also should not be overdone by unnecessary dialogs - let the customer discover the product quickly and let him check out.

Novel, comfort and luxury products

This is window shopping at its online version. Rather than quickly finding what they are looking for, the customers in this category want to browse through the different categories and attributes until something catches their eye, and they want to enjoy the whole shopping experience, as if they are wandering in a real life store. 

It is important to remember, however, that there is no strict division of products to either category, because a product that may be essential to one shopper, might be a luxury for another. 

Facilitate discovery shopping

We gather a number of tips for seller to implement in their online stores, that will help them make discovering products much easier:

  • Offer multiple attributes - attributes are what help customers find what they are looking for, by allowing them to refine the results according to their own preferences. The more attributes you offer - the more options for discovery the customers enjoy. But keep in mind to offer only attributes that are relevant to the category the customers are currently in, as too many attributes, or irrelevant ones, will only confuse the customers.  
  • Optimize internal search - keep track of phrases searched by your customers and identify important keywords. This way you can avoid the dreaded “No Results” page (in case of a misspelled search, for example), and even anticipate the needs of your customers. 
  • Maintain a well structured infrastructure - attribute navigation should be easy to use and efficient, in terms of variety and relevance, but also in terms of loading time and appearance. 
  • Create category pages - these are the gateways for a whole set of items, and a great place to advertise new products, recommendations, customer reviews, special promotions, etc. Creating category pages rich with product information also contributes to your store’s SEO. 
  • Be flexible - discovery marketing can be used in several ways. You can show customers related products, or products other customers purchased also. You can rate products according to customer reviews, or shipping cost. All this information can be shown to the customers in many ways, such as widgets, pop up menus, multiple selection lists, etc. It is important for sellers to remain flexible and adjust their site to maximize customer experience. 

Other ways to improve discovery shopping 

Discovery marketing and shopping works great for marketplaces and online retail stores like ebay, Amazon, Google Shopping, as well as brand name stores.  

However, discovery marketing may be applied in through other avenues, to help you reach out to potential customers: 

  • Social media - creating a buzz on Instagram and TikTok is pretty simple, with the right photo of the products, or sponsoring an influencer to promote your store. This is a great way to introduce new products and brands, and attract traffic. 
  • Video - as YouTube has made apparent with its unboxing videos, people love watching new products. You can upload product review videos or video gift guides to the category pages, to introduce customers to new or less familiar products. 
  • Visual search - the new up and coming technology, which identifies products using only an image. This will make it much easier for customers to discover new and related products, but requires the optimization of product information in the website. 
  • Voice search - similar to visual search, only this search is conducted by a voice assistant like Alexa or Siri. 
  • Bots - As customers come to expect more personalization, they also tend to rely on automated bots for suggestions for more products.   
  • Assorted packages and subscriptions - a marketing tactic with ‘discovery’ in its essence. Assorted packages require the customers to pay a monthly fee, for a package containing an assortment of products, which the store has selected for them. This makes it perhaps the perfect method of discovery marketing, as the seller has complete control over which products the customer sees. It is also a good way to create a loyal customer base that comes to rely on your recommendations - this approach is especially relevant in foods, wines and other perishable products.


Discovery marketing and shopping drives up sales and increases product exposure. While it may shorten the customers’ attention span, in the long run this segment of customers purchases a lot with a higher than average shopping cart value.

‘Browsers’ don’t know what they are looking for, hence their use of search is limited. This puts an extra weight on the effectiveness of the navigation and facets on site. Enriching a store with product information and enabling discovery through effective navigation is a critical factor in achieving success. Same goes about data submitted to the marketplaces. If as a retailer you want this customer segment to buy your products on a marketplace - make sure the product feed you submit is complete with navigational tags and enables the ‘Browsers’ to find your and not only the competitors’ products on a marketplace.

Request a demo



    PhonePlease, indicate the full number. Ex.: +9720501234567