The Ten E-Commerce Shoppers from Hell (And Beyond)

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“Hello? Is it me you’re looking for?”

Lionel Richie (c. 1984)


Companies know that to make the most out of your marketing budget, they must take a long hard look at who their target audience is. It is easy — almost too easy — to say that your target market is the masses. But even commodity goods like toothpaste has a specific market and its own party of decision-makers.

In today’s multi-synchronous, fast-track digital economy, it's tougher than ever to properly define, understand, and reach out to your target customers. Technology is sandwiched between the buyer and the seller during e-transactions, and this slight disconnect often leads to hilarious and at times perplexing customer behaviors. Perhaps, you too have had the pleasure of entertaining a few of such customers listed in our “Ten E-Commerce Customers from Hell”. Sound familiar? 

1. The 'gan-cheong spider'

Person delivering parcels
(Image: Maarten van den Heuvel on Unsplash)

This shopper lives in a world where they can't fathom why it is so impossible for the things they buy online yesterday, at 2 am, to reach them by today at 8. In the morning. And no, they didn’t pay for express delivery.

2. The 'I’ve changed my mind'

Person sitting at computer

(Image: Austin Distel on Unsplash)

They've ordered and paid for the item but changed their mind 20 minutes later. Now they want the product in a different color. And size. And the shipping method. And they want you to make the change now, like Thanos, in a snap of a finger. Oh wait, they just changed their order again.

3. The ‘pay H&M, expect Hermes’

A giftbox

(Image: David Everett Strickler on Unsplash)

Everyone loves a good deal. But let’s be fair. It's a $9 sweater. It's not going to be packaged in a box, wrapped in soft scented tissue paper, delivered by a convoy serenading you.

As the idiom goes, “if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.”

4. The 'I want a refund'

Hand holding money
(Image: Jp Valery on Unsplash)

They insist that the product comes damaged upon delivery and demand for a full refund, including the delivery fee. They know that most retailers won't go through the hassle of taking back a slightly damaged good. It's a win-win. The buyer gets their money back and a usable product that's only “somewhat scuffed”. Allegedly. 

5. The 'I VIRAL YOU'

Person screaming at phone
(Image: Icons8 Team on Unsplash)

"How dare you treat me like this! I will viral you on Facebook! I also will post on hardwarezone and Reddit. Nobody will buy from you anymore. You wait. I VIRAL YOU." Sounds familiar?

6. The ‘I own you’

(Image: Chuttersnap on Unsplash)

They slide the seller a DM on Instagram at odd hours of the day and badger for an immediate reply. They find it hard to understand why sellers are not dedicating their body and soul to their customers. After all, the business should exist only to serve them and them alone. Right?

7. The complain novelist

Phone showing facebook
(Image: Joshua Hoehne on Unsplash)

Writes a 400-word complain on Facebook without paragraphing orspacesbetweenwords and, detailing their “traumatic ordeal” with the (somewhat) flair of a movie scriptwriter, never mentioning how they may be at fault too. When called out by the company, they take to penning another 400-word essay about how they're being victimised, rallying for online support. AND HOW DARE THE COMPANY DEFEND THEMSELVES! The customer is always right!

8. The 'why-s and why not-s'

Person pointing at reader
(Image: Adi Goldstein on Unsplash)

"The other person sells the same thing as you, lei. Why yours so expensive?"

"I saw someone sell the same thing as you. Why theirs buy one get one free, but yours don't have?

"The other seller got give free delivery. Why you don't have?"

The other companies are selling the same product, right? So…

9. The free gift ‘auntie’

(Image: Cull & Nguyen on Unsplash)

Trawl the aisles of a huge supermarket on a weekend and you will spot a select few shoppers who often linger around promoters giving out free samples of a new product they're peddling. It is these very same people who often expect (nay, demand!) free gifts from retailers with every purchase. “Buy two don’t have free gift ah?"

10. The MIA

Person looking out of a window of train
(Image: Amine Rock Hoovr on Unsplash)

With the advent of Carousell, missing buyers are getting more and more common. One minute you could be chatting, agreeing on a fair price, setting up a meeting date and time, and suddenly, the replies stop! Leaving you with a chat room filled with “Hello?”, “Still keen?”, ”???”.


We share in your pain of dealing with customers in this age and time. The truth is, you cannot choose who you get as a customer but you can certainly select who you want to target your marketing efforts towards. A clear and concise understanding of who best suits your brand's philosophy will go a long way to winning over the right customers. They will eventually be the best brand evangelist you can have.

If you need help figuring out who to keep as a customer, do have a look at our blog post, “You Cannot Please Everyone: How to Know Who to Cut Off

Written by Miranda Yeo

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