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Website tricks to make you buy


5 sneaky ways shopping websites influence your buying habits.

A lot of us purchase goods online without thinking much about it, but it's important to know websites can use certain tactics to influence consumer behaviour online, which means you could end up spending more than you bargained for (or end up on annoying email lists at the very least).

Here are 5 red flags to be aware of next time you go to checkout your cart.

1. Websites that… force you to register

You’ve found a product online that you like the look of – only to find your screen suddenly obscured by a pop-up offering you a discount if you register. Sound familiar? The ‘force registration’ tactic is often used and sometimes the site will use language to manipulate you into taking up their offer. If you do opt in, you’ll score the discount, but probably a flurry of never ending emails from the store too. Be sure to check the terms and conditions of any product offering a free trial as you may be debited a reoccurring fee if you don’t opt out within a certain period.

2. Websites that… hide information

Have you ever filled a trolley with items at an online store, then abandoned the cart because the shipping was more expensive than the goods you were buying? Obviously, this is annoying when you’re excited about the products you’ve selected, and websites know it – so they may hide shipping info or not disclose important details until the very end after you’ve gone through the process of adding in your details. The expectation? By that point you’ll already be sold on the goods and even if you’re annoyed about the additional cost, you’ll still continue with the purchase.

3. Websites that… sneak products into your basket

It doesn’t matter whether you’re ordering a bunch of flowers online, booking flights or shopping for electronic goods or stationery – some sites may add products to your basket via pre-selected boxes. For example, insurance might be added to the shopping cart, or accessories for IT goods. Shoppers may have to manually ‘un-check’ these extras – or unwittingly pay for them.

4. Websites that… create urgency

Fear of missing out can trigger users to hit purchase if an item appears to be in high demand. For example, say you spot an ad in your Facebook feed for a new product that’s only available online. You click through and find that there are only a certain number of products left, or that there’s a limited sale on the item. These messages are designed to make you purchase more quickly. Some sites will even have a ‘sold out’ message to entice you to register so you get alerted when the product is ‘back in stock’.

5. Websites that… use site activity to influence your behaviour

You’re thinking about buying new swimmers and you’re notified that someone else has just bought the same item! Or, the hotel room you’re thinking of booking has had 119 people looking at it in the last 24 hours. There may also be enthusiastic, strategically-placed testimonials telling you just how great the product, hotel, restaurant you’re considering is. This tactic can be used by sites to try and influence you into buying by describing the experiences and behaviour of other supposed users to the site, but it is difficult to verify the authenticity of their statistics or testimonials.

This article is intended to provide general information of an educational nature only. Information in this article is current as at the date of publication. Any links to third party websites are for your information only and we do not endorse their content.

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