From one-day-only sales to free shipping to countdown clocks, online retailers have a variety of ways to reel you in, get you to load up your cart, and spend more than you had planned. You’ve seen these tactics before and you’ll see them again, so how can you actually online shop and stay on budget? According to Jason “Retailgeek” Goldberg, host of the top-rated e-commerce podcast, The Jason & Scot Show, you should “be a hunter, not a gatherer.” That means having a specific purchase in mind before you head to a website. “Don’t go to sites looking for ideas. That’s like shopping in a supermarket when you are hungry.” Read on for nine common tactics that online retailers use to get you to spend money; many are very similar to how offline stores trick you into spending more.
“Free shipping remains the most effective tactic for e-commerce,” says Goldberg. Retailers understand that offering up free shipping is a draw. That’s why you’ll often see messages like, “free shipping with a $35 minimum purchase” or “next-day delivery on orders of $50 or more” on various retail sites or promotional emails. Getting shoppers to hit a spending threshold – oftentimes by adding things they don’t really need to their carts – and waiving shipping costs helps companies increase sales. “Most people would rather spend more money buying things they don’t need than pay for shipping costs,” money-saving expert Andrea Woroch told Business Insider.
According to Business Insider, the scarcity principle – pressure that gets shoppers to buy something if they think it will sell out soon – is a legit way that retailers get you to buy. The sense of urgency creates an undeniable call to action, and you wind up snapping up an item because it seems like a “must-have.” Luckily, “customers have the convenience of product reviews, inventory research and competitive pricing comparisons more so than ever before,” says Reyhle, “and as a result, this positions customers to make smarter purchase decisions.” Just because an item might be selling out on one site doesn’t mean it’s not available somewhere else – or that inventory won’t be replenished soon.