Impulse Buying Online
Shopping carts that the buyer wishes they had abandoned.
It should not be surprising that online impulse buying has increased during the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, but the extent of that increase is quite surprising. One survey shows that impulse spending is up by 18 to 20% on pre- COVID-19 figures. One in five shoppers is making unplanned purchases. Typically, an impulse shopper is looking for something that make them feel good or gives an emotional hit. A temporary high comes with an unplanned purchase. But that high doesn’t last long once the package has been delivered? An impulse buy gives a quick hit to the mood but a longer lasting hit to the wallet. What are the most frequently impulse purchases that provoked buyer regret?
Among the worst impulse buys made include a sweet deal on 50kilos of glitter, a set of bagpipes, ninja swords, dieting pills and a never-ending list of games, DVDs, shoes and other items laced with regret and incredulity. Impulse buying while under the influence of alcohol or enjoying the spirit of Christmas and any other spirits is fairly typical.
In Dmac Media, we know of one person who shall remain nameless and shameless, who regularly buys musical instruments while enjoying a drink or two. No, they do not play any music on any apparatus. They do have a fine collection of musical instruments though! The most popular unplanned purchases today, are clothes, shoes and take away meals.
Technology and Buying Online
As ecommerce websites become easier to navigate and purchasing is now just a matter of a few clicks, spontaneous buying has increased. With sophisticated advances in technology, there comes another problem when your technology actually starts shopping for you. Alexa and Echo have been known to accidentally order many unwanted and unsolicited items online.
This includes a very expensive dolls house following a six-year-old asking Alexa to play ‘doll house ‘with her. Voice activated shopping lists from Alexa require some clear and distinct orders or your online shopping can be very interesting. One Amazon Echo shopping list included “a hunk of poo, big fart, girlfriend, [and] Dove soap”. Another included “150,000 bottles of shampoo” and “sledge dogs”. Turning off the ability to take voice orders for shopping is an option with Alexa and Echo, but how do we stop a wayward human from continually purchasing impulsively online.
Second Thoughts and Abandoned Carts
Like the last corridors in an airport departure lounge that warns there is no turning back after this door, the ‘Go to checkout’ message is the moment of second thoughts. But not all abandoned carts are because of buyer rethinking or acting on their reservations.
There are many reasons why shoppers will abandon their cart before the checkout. As frustrating as this is for any retailer, the reasons can be as simple as the buyer not being able to find their credit card or being interrupted by someone, or as tedious as them finding the delivery charges too much. The abandoned cart is a bone of contention for anyone trying to sell online. For the buyer, it is a last chance to consider the purchase and retreat if they need to. Checkout is the part of the website where the questions are: Do I really need it? But what impulse buyer ever considered that question.
Impulse Buys and Return Policies.
Nearly one in every five items bought over the internet are impulsive buys. Retailers have been encouraging impulse buys since the very first customer traded shells for fish somewhere in the far distant analogue past. The impulse buying traps are much easier to spot in brick-and-mortar shops.
The tempting sales items left strategically near the checkout queue, the bakery smell wafting through the supermarket and the eye-catching displays. There is as much, if not more, thought put into the ecommerce site enticing an unplanned purchase. That is the business of the online retailer. They want to sell things. Return policies are the friend of the impulse buyer and the bane of the retailer’s life.
Consumer Rights Online
All the consumer rights that relate to a purchase made in a shop also apply to purchases made online, but when you buy something over the internet, you also are provided with some additional rights. Because you are unable to see the goods before purchase, there are more relaxed rules allowing buyers to return items that they are unsatisfied with. This has had a downside for retailers.
‘Wardrobing’ The dubious act of wearing new clothes and then returning them to the retailer is now so common that sellers are trying to clamp down on returns policies. One in five consumers in the UK admitted to ‘wardrobing’ last year. However, EU rules on internet shopping are pretty clear and despite the rise of dishonest returns, the regulations favour the shopper.
This is the saving grace for the impulse shopper. So enjoy those highs of searching and purchasing and you can always send those unplanned bagpipes back tomorrow.