Like a lot of workaholics, I do most of my shopping online. Who has time to do a weekly Costco shop to buy toilet paper and laundry detergent, when I can buy them with a click of a button and within the comfort of my home office? But the convenient one-click buying power has a dark downside – it’s way too easy to go overboard. When I go online to buy my dog a Christmas sweater, I innocuously purchase a few best-sellers suggested by Amazon that I’ve been dying to read. But it’s not entirely my lack of self-control that is to blame. Online retailers employ sneaky marketing tricks to get you to add more to your virtual shopping cart. So what’s a clicking consumer to do.
Fight back with these strategies.
Coerced by “cookies.”
Known in the advertising world as “retargeting” or “remarketing,” this sneaky online advertising tool allows products that you search for to “follow” you all over the internet like a stalker ex, popping up in ads on most websites you visit.
Fight back: Clear your cookie cache every few days. Sometimes retails lure in new online shoppers with lower prices, so clearing your cookies can also trick a retailer into thinking you’re a new shopper, allowing you to have a lower price on an item the next time you need to purchase something. Your other option? Go to Google and download the cookie opt-out plug-in. Then you can browse without being bullied.
Your favorite websites know you – a little too well.
Online retailers like to push you to buy more by suggesting products that go with your purchase. Chapters, for instance, recently suggested that I add additional books by the author whose book I just purchased. And because the suggestions are based on your previous shopping or searching history, they can make suggestions that are actually pretty alluring.
Fight back: Stay strong and resist adding to your cart! If you’re still tempted, put it in your basket, but give yourself a 48-hour waiting period before you buy. Studies have shown that this is long enough to allow dopamine — the neurotransmitter that, among other things, goads us into impulse buys — to dissipate, making us a third less likely to buy.
Limited-time-only deals or deal-of-the-day type offers create a sense of urgency among consumers who feel like they absolutely must take advantage of the offer before it expires, regardless of whether the item or service was something they specifically were searching for.
Fight back: Ignore, ignore ignore. Instead of jumping at every flash sale, look for coupons only when it’s time to make a purchase. You can access online promo codes from freeshipping.org, or you can create a separate email address that receives store coupons and deals, this way you’re not tempted by them on the daily.
Remember, there’s the stuff you need and then there’s the stuff you want. And then there’s the stuff you didn’t even know you wanted but because Amazon has recommended it for you, you’re now in grave-danger of blowing your monthly budget on something you could live without.
Use these tips and put your credit card back in its holster.
Comparison shop – Don’t be a sucker when you see a price tag. You’re online! Shop around and see who has the cheapest prices. Don’t forget to factor shipping costs into your pricing – if it’s cheaper to pick something up in person, head out and pick it up!
Don’t shop bored – The silliest purchases happen when you probably shouldn’t have been shopping in the first place. If you’re bored, don’t automatically sign on to Gilt and start redecorating your living room. Instead, hit the gym or call up a friend.
When in doubt, leave the site – On the fence about whether you should buy something or not? Add it to your shopping cart but don’t check out. If you decide later that you must have it, go back and purchase it.