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User Gratification: The Digital Dopamine for E-Commerce

E-commerce and the digital experience have adopted higher standards that have been dictated by the most successful online retailers——these retailers have set a precedence that online shoppers have come to expect and other retailers have had to follow. In 2015, E-commerce sales were 341.7 billion dollars annually with an increase of 14.6% from 2014.

However, is our relationship with E-commerce so surface level or are their physical responses we have to shopping online? Hong Shao, a staff writer, from Forbes, states that digital dopamine is a big contributor to our love for e-commerce. Dopamine, a chemical in the brain, is associated with a positive feeling that comes from a certain experience. Experiences, such as hearing the sound of our mobile device, the ping of an email, or the sound of a chat are all experiences that are associated with positive feelings in the brain. The next time your device gives you a notification try and notice your mood and see if it has been elevated? User gratifications describe the active approach individuals make to satisfy their specific needs from the consumption of an online or media product.

Users on E-commerce websites are no longer considered passive audiences they are active in a sense that they know what properties they specifically expect to use and see when they are visiting a website. Active audiences are individuals who do not receive information passively, they are actively involved with the content and apply them to their everyday social contexts. Affordances are the capabilities a website that is given to a user. Affordances of a website or online business can range from having specific options while making a purchase or being able to navigate the website effectively. This is such a vital gratification for users that they expect to be able to opt-in or opt-out when purchasing a product.

When looking at E-commerce and gratification business owners should ask: Is my website providing the needs of my customers? For example, Chinese consumers, are a large market that would prefer to do all their shopping online. The key to understanding your community of consumers is having the insight to what potentially would gratify them during the purchasing experience. However, business owners should recognize that different communities and users have completely different set of needs. Engineers have the task of designing for customer gratification and anticipating what functions on a website will produce better revenue in sales. Having a proper, platform that can help personalize the e-commerce experience for your customers is a fundamental building block when building an online business.

The E-commerce market is gradually building to adapt to the concept of instant gratification. This being the ultimate dream for consumers, getting exactly what they need at the lick of a button right from their couch seamlessly. Some customers are already experiencing these types of deliverables from websites like However, some customers in parts of the country are a far cry from instant gratification. This is controlled through curbing customer expectations and providing an experience that shows exactly what they are receiving.The affordances that you apply to your website at the end of the day are providing your customers with an experience that will ensure repeat business. Furthermore, this rise of expectations has put a level of delivery expectations and options on the businesses website that are sometimes impossible to keep up with for small businesses.


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