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Online shopping: beware you are being tricked

Online shopping has become the trend; especially in the COVID era, many newbies are drawn to this easy, at-home shopping habit. Those who have already been shopping online in the pre-COVID times now rely on online shopping for almost everything.

What could be easier than getting your groceries, clothes, and essentials with just a few touches, but hold on! Are we just shopping for obliged products or are we falling bait to the digital shopping’s outwit? Is online shopping, thrusting us to spend more than we have the wherewithal for?

Online shopping: do you really want it?

How many times have you bought things online on the impulse of the moment and later regret it? You are not alone, nearly everybody has fallen into this trap multiple times. The problem becomes more serious with people who keep on buying futile products despite being in debt.

 A former social media influencer and blogger, Lissette Calveiro’s story dictates a story that shows us the dark side of online shopping and the glamour world. The obsession to fake an “ideal” life and impulse online buying led the influencer is a debt of $10,000.

Calveiro, says “constant online shopping for a closet that enabled me to ‘never repeat an outfit’ for a picture, endless açai bowls, and brunches and a need to feed my newly acquired travel bug without consideration of the potential risks of being in debt – all to show off to my newfound followers”.

The above story is not exclusive, millions of people fall into this trap every now and then. But what is there in the digital shopping that attracts us to buy vain things?

According to the charity, Money and Mental Health, on an average every eight adult spends more than they can bear on online platforms; also, every one of four products people buys but they don’t actually need. The most vulnerable to over purchasing online, are people who had some history of mental health issues.

What makes online shopping so compelling?

While visiting the supermarket for a few stuff, we always end up buying a lot more, which we don’t even need. What is the reason behind this over-shopping? These are the retailer’s trick, which at a psychological level propel our brain that makes us feel we are missing out good deals.

When we shop online, these propelling gets more intense because of the following reasons:

Limited availability trick

What makes sales voguish? the fact that they will be live just for a limited time. This limit alarms our brain to catch the deals before they end. The retailers make use of these alarms in our brains, and sugarcoating the deals with ‘free shipping’, ‘ hurry only a few left’, ‘free gifts’, which makes the deal furthermore compelling.

Ads and reviews

Have you ever noticed, if you search for a product online, it will keep haunting you everywhere until you buy it? These are ads. This is another trick used in online marketing, which shows you the product over and over again on every website you open. Reviews of products also play an important role in this game, highlighting good reviews by customers, makes us want that product even more.


Scrolling through lots of things is exhausting, so in order to outshine their products or websites, online marketers, use different tactics. Usage of different font sizes can make a huge difference in customers’ decisions.

“Subconsciously your mind will pick it up. And because it’s a little bit bigger, you will naturally pay attention to it. Therefore you feel that you like this product – but it has nothing to do with the product”; says Kate Nightingale, a consumer psychologist, the British Heart Foundation.

Easy and varied payment options

Online payment, with just one click, makes buying stuff online very easy, which avails customers to buy without any hassle, therefore they end up buying more every time.

no-cost Easy Monthly Instalments (EMI) though is an excellent alternative for those who are not capable of paying large sum at once; many times it also creates a problem. We sometimes end up buying things like expensive gadgets, vehicles, furniture etc that we might not actually need; and thus we end up in debt.

How can we be saved?

Online marketing tricks aim to compel consumers to spend more money, sometimes more than they can afford. Such leaves the vulnerable under huge debts which could further lead to deadly outcomes. These immoral business techniques if changed could surely create a safe online shopping experience for everyone.

One suggestion to do so by MMH is, adding more friction to the online buying procedure. As says Nightingale, “How many times did you drop your potential purchase because you were standing in a long queue?”

We the consumers on the other hand are equally responsible for keeping us safe from online shopping exploitation. Word to the wise, thinking before every purchase, using a debit card instead of a credit card, being aware of the compelling ads; are a few things that can keep us safe from falling bait to the online shopping traps.