Most of us have been guilty of impulse shopping at some point in our lives. “I want it, I got it” has never been truer than it is in this day and age, with the exponential growth of online shopping in recent times. As per the US Census, ecommerce sales accounted for approximately 10% of all sales in the United States in the first three months of 2019 (source). With online shopping having become so convenient to the point where you can successfully complete a purchase in just 2-3 clicks, it is now easier than ever to get swayed into making a sudden unplanned purchase. Almost any item you can possibly think of is available to buy online and get delivered right to your doorstep. While a study conducted in 2018 (Aragoncillo & Orus, 2018) showed that offline shopping still triggers impulse buying more than online shopping, it cannot be denied that impulse online shopping is becoming a real problem worldwide.
Unfortunately, encouraging impulse purchases on e-commerce websites is something that brilliant marketers around the world spend many hours working on. However, with a little thought and care, you too can prevent yourself from succumbing to this temptation. If you find yourself hitting that “Add To Cart” button a little too often for your comfort, here are some ways you can win the battle against impulse online shopping.
1. Identify your weakness
If you have a tendency to impulse buy, identify the categories of items which are clearly your weakness. If you find yourself spending thousands each month on various small knick knacks costing just a few hundred rupees each, this is clearly your weakness. If you run to buy clothes that you don’t even need everytime you see your favourite clothing store have an online-only sale, this is your weakness. Even ordering food and snacks from PickMe or UberEats every time you have the slightest craving is considered impulse online shopping. It might be adding random items into your cart while doing the weekly grocery haul online. Whatever it might be, curbing your impulse online shopping begins from you identifying all your weaknesses, as well as the triggers.
Face the Reality
Another trick that will help you really feel the weight of your actions is to total up how much money you have spent that year on these unplanned purchases. If your annual AliExpress or Gflock/Kelly Felder bill is in the tens of thousands and you are not using the items you bought regularly enough to justify the cost, that should help you realise just how much money you are spending on mindless online purchases.
2. Pre-plan your purchases
The definition of an impulse purchase is one that has been done without planning in advance. If you are naturally someone who likes to buy things and spend money, make a list of everything that you plan to buy at the start of the month and wait until the end of the month before you actually make that purchase. This prevents you from spending money which you need for something else, on your online shopping.
Allow yourself to buy 1 new gadget or item of clothing per month that does not exceed an acceptable amount of money. Decide your meals at the beginning of the day or allow yourself to order from out just 3 times a week.
3. Uninstall or Unsubscribe
Even when you are scrolling through your Instagram, you will get bombarded with dozens of ads which have been particularly hand-crafted to appeal to your tastes. You will likely get multiple promotional emails daily about special offers, new products or even with a special coupon code encouraging you to complete an abandoned transaction. It becomes simply impossible to escape this onslaught of marketing which is driving you to buy more. Sometimes the easiest way out of all this is to cut off ties altogether - by uninstalling Instagram or Facebook or from your phone. If you need to access these social platforms, you can still do so through the browser but the lessened convenience will hinder your attempts to make a purchase. Unsubscribe to all promotional emails you get on a daily basis.
Dangers of Impulse Online Shopping
The biggest danger of impulse online shopping is that it’s often a small but steady money leak which might not seem like much per-purchase, but when you add everything up - it’s enough to make a real difference, especially if you are already struggling financially. Impulse buying is a source of instant gratification for consumers, although regret might seep in a few days after getting the goods. Furthermore, due to the popularity of credit card offers by retailers, most people fund these purchases using debt. With internet loans and attractive loan offers becoming increasingly popular, it is not unheard of for people to take out internet cash advances for money just to take advantage of a flash sale at their favourite shop. When it comes to paying back these online bank loans, serial impulse buyers might find themselves unable to. Poor buying behaviour and spending habits are one of the leading causes of people drowning in debt.
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