Shopping online offers a world of conveniences; there’s no doubt about that. But online shopping is pretty much the home of instant gratification, and it’s very easy to understand why. You find yourself surfing online for products you need to buy and end up adding other things that catch your attention (but you didn’t plan for) to your cart. The logical sequence of your thinking process is then replaced by a sudden urge to self-gratify. Merch displayed on online shopping platforms in attractive ways can easily work up your shopping appetite, tempting you to make purchases on impulse. While most of these purchases may not significantly affect your finances immediately, the habit of impulse buying can do major damage over time. So, do you need a shopping intervention? Do you struggle with an uncontrollable urge to “add to cart” things you haven’t budgeted for? Here are some tips to avoid impulse buying when shopping online.
1. Commit to researching
Before purchasing anything that catches your eye, take a few minutes to dig up a little information about the product first. For example, before you add those newly released headphones to your shopping cart, spend a few minutes reading expert reviews about the product on other websites. You can also read other customer reviews or watch review videos about the product. Also, find out if there are cheaper alternatives, better prices, or even amazing discounts and voucher codes from platforms like NetVoucherCodes that you can take advantage of.
Committing to this type of research will help you do two things. One, it gives you enough time to rethink your need for that product. Some customer or expert reviews will point out flaws in the product and discourage you from purchasing it. Secondly, you can identify cheaper alternatives or better prices, which will help you save money.
2. Train your mind to prioritize long-term gains instead of short-term gratification
Practice is crucial in every aspect of human life, including online shopping habits. You can try all the tricks you want to avoid impulse buying, but if you haven’t trained your mind to prioritize the right things, staying clear of online products you don’t need will always be a struggle.
Many financial experts advise people to follow the 50-30-20 breakdown, where you limit discretionary spending to only 30% of your monthly income. You may be wondering what this has to do with prioritizing long-term gains. Well, here it is. The more structure you have to your spending habits, the more careful you’ll be about spending. That means you’ll be less excited about buying things you haven’t planned for. Doing this will also help you train your mind to limit your purchase only to the things you need and things that hold long-term value. For example, if your spending budget each month is $100, buying a newly-released headphone for $50 might cause you to think twice, as that’s half of your spending money already gone.
It takes time to train the mind to achieve the financial or shopping discipline you need, but that’s no excuse.
3. Address the root cause of addictive shopping
Sometimes people make impulse purchases due to an addiction. When that happens, it’s important to address the root causes. Some people shop when they feel bored, lonely, and need something fun to do. Others shop when they’re depressed or going through some emotional struggle. That’s because studies have shown that retail shopping can make you feel happy, as dopamine is released before a shopping process is completed. And dopamine, known as the “feel-good” hormone, gives you a sense of pleasure during the shopping process.
So, take the time to find out if external issues drive you to resort to impulsive online shopping to derive pleasure. Then, find other ways to address those issues. You can try a simple activity if you’re unsure whether you have emotional triggers behind your purchases. Write down your purchases, their cost, your emotional state when you bought them, and any other significant detail or activity that occurred during the purchase period. Do this for as many purchases as you can remember. Once done, list the things you haven’t used or wished you hadn’t purchased and see if you can link them to some emotional states you were in. That should give you a fair idea of your emotional triggers if you have any.
4. Never store your credit cards on online shopping sites
You probably always receive this pop-up notification to save your details on some sites after you’ve entered them when making a purchase. Granted, it’s convenient, especially when you don’t like the stress of typing your details repeatedly. But the last thing you want to do is save your credit card information on online retail shops. And you’ll want to avoid doing so for two main reasons.
Safety is a major reason, as you can become an easy target for hackers. And two, it can help you check impulse buying. Faster checkouts may be convenient, but they don’t help you; they help the seller. Plus, the extra effort it will take to type in your credit information may be all the time you need to reconsider what you’re about to purchase. With the ease or convenience no longer there, it can be less tempting to make purchases you haven’t planned for.
5. Stop window shopping
It is fun to browse through your favorite online retail stores and check out the nice things they have in stock. But window shopping is one of the biggest causes of impulse buying. If you have no intention of purchasing anything, it’ll be best if you avoid window shopping. Sure, you’re only going to look at new arrivals and prices; you don’t intend to buy anything – keep telling yourself that. Online marketers know that many people visit online shops without the intention to purchase anything, and they plan their ads and product placements with window shoppers in mind. These marketers take full advantage of your shopping history, pages you follow on social media, online queries, and pretty much any online data you’ve built up. And they use this information to throw the perfect pop-up ads onto your screen when you’re window shopping. Before you know it, you’re clicking “add to cart” for a product you know you don’t need! So, don’t even tempt yourself. It’s best to visit your favorite online store only when you have something specific you need to purchase.
6. Be conscious of your decision-making process
Almost every shopper will consider themselves capable of making rational shopping decisions without letting their emotions and impulses get in the way. But behavioral economists have proven that online shopping comes with certain external players that encourage shoppers to act irrationally.
As mentioned earlier, online marketers know just how to trigger your emotions and punch the right buttons that will cause you to dip into your wallet. That’s why you need to be conscious of your decision-making process. Ask yourself why you want to purchase a particular product. Does it fit into your long-term strategies to save money? You can also take the time to calculate how much you have spent on things you don’t need. That could give you a good idea of how much money you’re flushing down the drain. These strategies can help you stay conscious whenever you visit any online retail store.
7. Start unsubscribing to tempting mailing lists and daily deals
How often do you receive emails containing amazing deals available for a limited time with free shipping? Too often? Then it’s time to start unsubscribing from them. Marketers and retailers use these deals to trigger impulse buying. Because most of these deals come with limited periods, you will feel you need to jump on the opportunity before you miss them. For example, that new blender available with a 40% discount can feel like a good deal. You know you don’t need a blender now, but you’ll end up convincing yourself you need it in the future (only to realize later that you don’t). You may have gotten that product at a good price, but you have wasted money on something you don’t need. And that’s just what these daily deals and mailing lists can make you do. Click the unsubscribe button!
8. Make a list of the things you need and where to find them
It’s important to have a game plan before you go online. Even when you go online with a specific buying goal, you can bet that these target ads will await you. So, before you visit any online store, list the things you need to buy and where to find them. This way, you can avoid spending too much time.
Once you know what items you’re after, you can use tools like ad blockers and filters to narrow your online search and avoid slipping down a rabbit hole of items. Good websites should have their products well categorized to make it easy to find what you need. You can also use search boxes to find specific products you need without browsing the entire retail store.