Bloggers are always fed constantly with various survey reports and studies. being a personal finance bloggers, I do get daily dose of emails containing press releases and market trends. Last week I received an email from a well known market research firm, about the latest trend in consumer buying experience. It reported declining over the counter sell and increasing online sells over the Black Friday weekend.
Spending at physical stores declined by 2.9 percent compared to the same four-day period last year beginning with Thanksgiving day. Whereas Cyber Monday sales soared 21 percent over last year. Also, this year’s Cyber Monday was the biggest online shopping event to date.
This trend may be an excellent news for e-commerce site and other businesses who are well present online in addition to their omnipresence near your home. Like sites of Wal-Mart, best buy, etc.
But, this may not be as good news for budget savvy middle class like we are, let me explain why.
In last one month we bought items worth more than $1200 online. This include one high value gift, but keeping is aside also it was a big spending on my part.Mostly the things I bought were not necessity in our life.
Things we bought were electronics and hobby items which we would not have bought from a brick and mortar store. Easy access to merchandise on my browser, easy access to product reviews full of excited past buyers, combined with plenty of how-to-use tutorials on YouTube makes the need much more compelling than they ever were.
(Related – How Rampant is Impulse Buying, Info-graphics)
To add to that, you don’t have to burn fuel to arrive at the store, you don’t have to buy and carry stuff in your trunk. So, when you see a sign which reads “Free Shipping” you just can’t hold off from clicking your mouse all the way up to checkout button. Yes, there’s a return policy but how many of us take the pain to return merchandise if you realize it’s useless?
At least I don’t return items, except it’s faulty, I returned my HP computer once because it was a faulty piece. But the headphone, the iPhone cover or the lens cap – I haven’t returned them and they are collecting dust ever since they arrived in our mail box. I guess it’s a story many of you can relate to.
I have been victim of this new-age buying impulse multiple times. Earlier I wrote about techniques to control impulse buying, still I fell for another type of impulse buying, buying things online. Perhaps we have to fight this battle in a different way now.
Stopping using computer is impossible, browsing through sites like Facebook or Pinterest has become part of our daily life. All these social media sites are now full with ads from various commercial entities. Every YouTube video starts with a commercial advertisement! Offering a better life, showing happy faces and satisfied souls. They are too tempting to ignore!
(See Also – How to Control Stock Trading Impulses)
How to stop browser shopping (aka window shopping) then?
I am trying a few tricks which haven’t yet produced result. I have started muting my computer while YouTube runs advertisement. I have filtered off my preferences on Facebook to not allow advertorial posts in my timeline, and I created a list of people I like, in Twitter to follow, instead of following my home stream. Which always displays one ad or the other.
I found alternate news websites that contain lesser ads. Resulting in lesser commercial distractions while reading contents.
I also de-linked my credit card and PayPal accounts from most of the sites. I am still keeping Amazon and eBay links intact. But, gone are Overstock, B&H photos, NewEgg and various other sites I have used in the past. I even unsubscribed from all special offer emails.
I’ll keep you posted on my progress when I track it once again in January. In the mean time why don’t you tell us about your experience, good or bad, in online shopping?
Dividend Gamer says
I recently bought several books off of Amazon and a few through their digital kindle service too.
I still have around 15 on my wishlist. I may pick the rest up with a piece of my tax return.
I miss the shares I could have purchased with the money I spent on the books, but expanding my knowledge base is far more valuable at this point.
Let’s see … Paypal account (so I see the money as ‘numbers’ not as cash) + eBay/Amazon (or other sites). Yep, it spells disaster. I’m not usually purchasing too much from these sites, but I’ve squandered quite some money on domain names or scripts to develop new sites. Am doing my best to not repeat the mistakes again
Michelle @fitisthenewpoor says
I took my paypal account off of most sites and deleted my saved cards on Amazon. I hate the “instant checkout” option because it doesn’t let me sit and think through my purchases first.
Bryce @ Save and Conquer says
Things like Amazon Prime are major contributors to online impulse buying. You spend $80 to get “free” two-day shipping, plus access to some streaming movies and TV shows. With membership, I just go to amazon.com, find practically anything I might find at the mall, and in two clicks, I have purchased it. The item will be delivered to my door in two days or less. Easy-peasy. Unfortunately, for many, this is too easy, especially to those with a shopping addiction or some level of senility. I personally go with putting an item on a wish list, and if I still want/need it later in the week, then I may go ahead with the purchase. I also talk to my wife to make sure she agrees with the purchase.
Nik @ Midlife Finance says
We should think couple of times before buying things online. I think this is the best and the most comfortable way to buy things. We should learn to buy only what is important. Thanks for this post! Your tips to avoid browser shopping is really worth practicing. Thumbs up!!!
Derek @ MoneyAhoy says
This is why I always keep my Paypal account drained. It makes it harder to go on those splurge type of spending sprees if I lose control temporarily 🙂
Donny Gamble says
The evolution of online marketers have gotten smarter as technology advances. With all of the data that is now available on the Internet it is easy to place the right ads in front of the right people based upon their previous purchases or search inquires.
With all the promotions/discounts this holiday season, it’s really tempting to buy unnecessary things. Thanks for your tips.
Connor Harley says
After having my first buys online, I have to admit I got quite addicted to it most especially on the convenience it gives me. But I eventually slowed down and become more clever with my purchases, or else I’ll end up getting into a lot of debts.
Advertising always affects others in varied ways. For me I’d like to think that my cynicism prevents me from being subjected to flashy adverts or a sparkly looking website, but I guess we’re all veered towards certain offers or products.
It’s good of you to point out the financial dangers in something line online shopping as it is something that cuts many corners when it comes to acquiring goods, whether we have planned to purchase them or not. In essence it is the perfect shopping experience for some – a few clicks of the mouse without having to withdraw cash (makes us feel less guilty), use fuel or pay for public transport.
There are also a lot of people like myself who despise shopping unless completely necessary, like for food and toiletries. Therefor you could say advertising works on me by making me want to get the thing and get out of there.
I also find it difficult to digest advertising when temptations are prompted within us. For example, recently I’ve been looking to acquire a new mobile phone. But all the features and techno-jargon in the product descriptions leads me to further confusion – am I to be drawn in by the adverts and spend a little extra, or am I to be sensible and just go for the cheapest one that’s more limited in capabilities? I certainly don’t need a device that is overstated or can contact NASA, just so long as it operates as an actual phone and stores a few photos etc. The search goes on with that one.
In retrospect to the amount of advertising I come across living in a big city, Manchester England, I’m often puzzled as to how so many TV and radio adverts, home shopping channels, websites and public posters actually work on so many of us. As a whole we are geared like a well oiled machine to carry out our spending according to what is ‘shoved’ in our faces when browsing online etc. And so it can be at times a case of “I’ll buy that since it’s basically what I’m after and then I can stop fretting about the perfect buy”. I’d say men probably do this more – the run in and grab technique (after paying). I’ve certainly done it, and perhaps it’s the same for shopping online.
My advice would be very similar to some of the things you’ve stated above^
1) If you are watching something online, turn the sound off until it loads what you want. Also try to avoid paying any visual attention to them. All the adverts on YouTube and alike are a bad influence as we’re usually so close to the screen and ‘locked in’ to the virtual world.
2) When watching television turn the volume down by a significant amount as the advert breaks appear (I’m like a quick-draw cowboy with the remote when it comes to this). Adverts are not only irritable, but they are actually aired at higher volumes than the movie/programme you’re watching, so even if you leave the room for a minute to make a cup of tea you can still hear them from other rooms in the house.
3) When physically in a shop be wary of picture adverts and posters. You could be buying a new printer or a chocolate cake, but either way it’s better to read the box or ask a member of staff than it is to buy something according to an image that most probably isn’t a full representation of the product. And we all know how easily we’re led on by photographic advertising – just thinking about a picture of a chocolate cake on a box is making me want to buy one, but I won’t.
4) Finally, if you are to shop for things online make sure you READ THE FINE PRINT to check you are getting what you’re paying for. I find it hard to trust anyone who may be responsibility for sending me a package, even if their both lovely people and professional. Things get lost and damaged in transit, and that’s my greatest fear of paying for anything over the internet. The last thing you want to do is waste time and money you don’t have on something that doesn’t even work or is broken/ripped. Be as vigilant as you can!
Great article, thanks.