Bright Side

12 Ways We Can Avoid Being Tricked by Online Stores

With 1.8 billion people shopping online worldwide, there’s no wonder that retailers do their best to keep their customers happy. However, they haven’t forgotten about themselves and continue to encourage us to splurge on the things we sometimes don’t even need. And ingenious technique and the knowledge of human psychology help retailers successfully do this.

Bright Side has analyzed the marketing tricks that most online stores use and came up with a list of things you should look for to make the most of your money when shopping online.

1. Order delivery instead of picking up your order at the store.

Sometimes it’s more convenient to pick up your order at the store yourself, rather than wait for the delivery, for retailers this is a great way to increase their sales. There’s a high possibility that a customer will grab more products when they’re already at the store. It could be some additional goods that they actually need, like a protective screen for their smartphone, or retail associates can lure them into purchasing completely different products.

One of the biggest retailers said that the way they get more revenue is when customers pick up their orders themselves: on average, they sell goods that cost $20-$25 in addition to the online order. Delivery is obviously the cheaper option.

2. Read reviews, but don’t rely on public opinion completely.

Retailers gather statistics and information about their customers’ purchases and can display it on their website in real-time. For example, some online shops will show you how many people have already bought this exact product and how many have it in their carts and are ready to buy it. Even though this can provide a customer with the reassurance that the product is actually good quality, it can also make them doubt their own decisions and contribute to impulsive buying.

Customers have no way to check and see if these statistics are true and sometimes fall under social influence. Reviews can provide some great insight on the real features of the products, but don’t forget to listen to your gut and choose what is best for you.

3. Ignore a false sense of urgency.

Many retailers pressure their customers by creating the illusion that they’ll miss a once-in-a-lifetime deal if they don’t buy a product right away. They urge them to make a purchase, otherwise the discount will expire and they’ll never get such a great deal ever again. And emotional phrases like “Order now, before it’s too late” or “Only 3 are left in stock” help them with that.

This approach creates a stressful situation for a customer and triggers anxiety, making them act without thinking. Many people suffer from a fear of missing out on some things that are available to others. So they act impulsively and buy things they don’t actually need.

4. Check to see if the discount offer really is that “exclusive.”

Retailers attract customers’ attention by offering special personal deals or selling exclusive high-quality products. In some cases, these deals and promises are true and shops use these methods to boost sales, but sometimes retailers just slightly raise their prices in advance and then offer a discount. So “exclusive” deals and products may turn out to be just the items that retailers want to get rid of as fast as possible.

If you have time, it’s better to compare offers in different online shops and consider other factors that could influence the price: expiration date, delivery fee, the amount of product you have to buy at once to get the discount, etc.

5. Don’t fall for free shipping.

Most customers don’t like to pay a shipping fee and retailers know that. According to research, 93% of people are likely to buy more if there’s a possibility of free shipping. And the total value of their purchase will be much higher. People even value free shipping more than the speed of delivery: half of the respondents said they’re willing to wait a week for the products they’ve already paid for if they get free shipping.

Although free shipping is a great option if you’re really interested in purchasing certain things from this exact retailer, sometimes it makes you settle for lower-quality products or it encourages impulsive buying, since you feel like you’re already saving money on the delivery.

6. Double-check your cart before checking out.

Retailers understand that many customers get annoyed by the necessity to enter their shipping details or credit card information every time they buy something. So they try to make the checkout process as easy and convenient as possible. Some retailers provide “express checkout” where you can finish your shopping in seconds. So, many customers don’t pay close attention to the number of items they’ve added into their cart and end up paying for products they’ve ordered by mistake.

Fast checkout makes it easier to miss some details since you’re in a rush to finish your shopping. It’s better to always check your buying list several times and get rid of things you’ve added by mistake.

7. Resist the urge to buy more if there’s a “free returns” option.

Online shopping deprives customers of many advantages: they can’t touch, try on, or smell the products they’re buying. That’s why they may be hesitant when it comes to buying items they haven’t seen in real life. Retailers understand their motives and to compensate for the lack of information about the products, they offer customers free returns.

And it’s worth it: customers are more likely to make a more significant purchase if they can return the ordered items without any additional fees. In the end, many people don’t want to spend their time returning their order or just forget about it. So it’s a win-win situation for the retailer.

8. Monitor the prices.

Retailers have to constantly adjust their prices to attract more customers and follow the market tendencies. So the price of the same product can fluctuate during the day. Online stores monitor customers’ activity and make decisions based on this data. Sometimes retailers deliberately make one product way more expensive than the others, so customers get the wrong impression that the rest of the products in the shop are a great deal in comparison with this one.

If you want to buy a product at a fair price, it’s better to prepare in advance. Monitor the prices and compare similar products, especially if the item is on sale, to find affordable yet high-quality products.

9. Be careful with add-on only items.

Some retailers allow you to buy certain items only if you’ve already ordered some other more expensive products. They claim that it wouldn’t be cost-efficient to deliver only these items. While this might be true from the point of view of the company, customers often end up paying for things they don’t actually need that much.

Check to see if you can find any alternatives in other online stores that don’t require you to spend more or check out local shops. Sometimes it may be more profitable to pay a little bit more for things offline, than to pay for a product you had no intention to buy.

10. Don’t pay too much attention to the recommended items.

While sometimes it can be useful to be reminded to buy certain products, in most cases retailers just use this trick to get more money out of you. They may suggest items that are related to the products that are now in your cart or that correspond to your browsing history. These items usually don’t cost a lot and make you feel like you’re somehow upgrading the product you’re buying.

If you want to spend less, stick to your shopping list and don’t give in to the temptation to spend more than you’ve planned. If you can’t ignore the recommended items section completely, try to perceive it more as an ad than a helpful tool.

11. Limit the time you spend on online shopping.

Science says that an average person can’t concentrate on one task without any distraction for more than 20 minutes. So the longer you look for things online, the more the level of your concentration declines. And retailers can easily use that to their advantage. They offer customers hundreds of options that can take ages to look through. So after spending hours online, you end up tired and irritated and buy things you don’t need.

Try to create a wish list that contains the exact products you’d like to buy. In this case, you’ll know what you’re looking for and it’ll be easier to find a better deal without wasting your time and energy.

12. Ignore promotional emails.

Once you’ve subscribed to the retailer’s email newsletter, you’re likely to get an inbox full of letters with tempting deals and offers. Even if you put an item in your cart but didn’t purchase it, online shops may send you a reminder to “help” you finish your shopping. These emails may offer some discount, but their main aim is to get you to return back to the store and encourage you to buy at least something.

These emails can come in handy if you’re particularly interested in the items the shop is selling and want to get a good deal. But in most cases, they’re just spam that urges you to splurge more on things you don’t need.

Have you ever fallen for any marketing tricks? Do you know any other ways that shops make us spend more? Share your stories and experience in the comments.

Preview photo credit