Why online shops don’t want you to give buying
a minute’s thought

(and what you can do to combat it)

Why online shops don’t want you to give buying a minute’s thought (and what you can do to combat it)

Speed is everything for both online and real-world retailers. They know that every second, and every click, that comes between you and getting your mitts on that coveted widget equals lost sales for them – and money not spent by you.

One industry term for it is ‘slippery’. From the second you see that must-have pair of pants online to the moment you realise that your bum looks no smaller than they did in the old ones, every step of the process is optimised to create a journey as slick as a trip down a waterslide.

The Amazon ‘1-click’ button is one example. One impulsive click, and that book, gadget or T shirt could be winging its way to you – almost as quickly as the money gets sucked from your bank account.

Amazon has taken impulse buying into the real world too. Its “Amazon Go” company store pilot in the USA lets employees walk in, grab stuff from the shelves and walk out again. Tracking of who buys what is done with sensors, cameras and the shoppers’ mobile phones. Payment is automatic and invisible.

In the US, at least, Amazon also lets marketers put 1-click shopping into your home or office – no computer required. Amazon Dash is a collection of physical buttons you stick around your home, connected to your wifi network. Click the button and you’ve just ordered some soap powder, printer ink, coffee, or whatever that particular Dash button is configured for. While the lack of Amazon’s “Prime” same-day delivery service here means Dash isn’t available in Australia, the imminent launch of an Amazon distribution centre here means it won’t be long before we’re hitting the Doritos, Heineken and Durex buttons rather than heading down to the shops (all three of those are live on the platform at the moment, by the way).

It’s clear then that the world’s biggest online retailer sees impulse as a key to getting hold of your money. What can you do to turn the tables on that?

Give it the overnight test.

This is good advice for lots of things, but more so when it comes to controlling your spending. That dress / book / pair of shoes will still be there tomorrow. If you still love it in the morning, go for it.

Go easy on the lube.

Online retailers make their sites slippery for them, not for you. So when a site (or your browser) helpfully suggests it “saves credit card details for next time” just say no. That way, your next potential purchase will take minutes, rather than seconds … and maybe you just won’t bother.

Don’t be afraid to pull out.

Just because you put something in your virtual trolley doesn’t mean you can’t park it in a virtual aisle and leave it there. And here’s a bonus: some sites will try and win your business back by emailing you later (if they have your details) with a discounted offer on the stuff you almost bought … which sounds to me like a very good reason to keep those retail impulses under control.

Vaughn Davis
Vaughn Davis

Vaughn Davis is a smart cookie who lives in Auckland and has a goat farm. An actual goat farm. He also has The Goat Farm, which is an ad agency and doesn't involve any actual goats. He writes monthly for Credit Simple and you can find him @vaughndavis.

All stories by: Vaughn Davis