That e-commerce has been truly transformational is accepted; the access to a huge selection of goods and services to not just cities but also to smaller towns has resulted in a exponential growth in adoption. From an e-commerce service provider’s perspective the true value is in driving not just traffic to the platform but also increasing the revenue per customer on each transaction. The objective aided by machine learning, AI, data sciences and increasingly behavioural sciences aid e-commerce platforms in milking each interaction with the customer.
In this blog we uncover some of the tricks that e-commerce platforms apply and practical ways in which users can avoid falling in the trap.
FREE SHIPPING – if you spend more than a certain amount
As a user you want to avoid additional costs while extracting the most value for yourself. To avoid –
- Plan a bulk buy in advance to avoid making impulse purchase of items that are not immediately useful
- Look for discount coupons online that may reduce your bill thereby offsetting the shipping cost.
- Suggesting complementary products
Most e-commerce platforms make recommendations for the user to buy complementary products thereby motivating an unplanned purchase. To avoid –
- If you feel the need to buy a complementary product add it to your wish-list and if in 2 weeks you still feel that you need it then place the order
- Creating a sense of scarcity
It is human nature to want what you can’t have! This is very effectively exploited by e-commerce platforms with sales deadlines, flash warnings of products running low on stock, “lower” pricing for next few items etc. To avoid –
- Don’t be drawn in by the trick – the same item would be in stock in a few days
- If you like the product so much – search around a bit to see if any other e-commerce platform is offering the same product and buy from there if the stock isn’t replenished in a few days.
- Use a decoy to steer users towards an unwarranted purchase
The human brain is wired to compare things and thus likes to have options. The trick of the decoy offers users much more expensive options next to slightly expensive items thereby motivating the user to completely disregard the cheapest option available. As an example try searching for “treadmill for home use” on any e-commerce platform. The results shown would have the cheapest followed by an outrageously expensive (but with many additional features) followed by a cheaper option. The trick is that human brain would start comparing the features and omit the cheapest option from the consideration. To avoid –
- Read through the reviews and gauge if users find adequate value compared to the price
- Research the item that you need and only search the product once you are absolutely certain of the product, price and features that make sense for you.
- Making shopping seamless
One click shopping is a revelation! Or is it? In the case of one-click checkout the absence of needing to even enter payment details can make money non-apparent. Studies have shown that when the user slows down the shopping experience they reconsider their purchases much more. In fact the act of entering credit card information during the transaction makes the user think about the money they are giving away thereby reconsidering the shopping cart. To avoid –
- Don’t let e-commerce platforms to save your payment or shipping details.
- Data is king!
Unknown to users e-commerce platform use variables such as location, operating system and online behaviors to price, recommend and bundle items. To avoid –
- Browse in incognito mode so that the above information is not shared with the e-commerce platform
- Order products based on customer reviews this would ensure that the best value for money products are considered
- Once you have zeroed in on a product shop around before placing the order.
- Lenient returns policy
During its infancy e-commerce platforms in India heavily advertised the lenient returns policy offered by them as a means to drive customer adoption for online shopping. This is in fact a trick in itself since the e-commerce platform hopes to benefit from not just adoption but also that once received some may forget to exchange or get attached to the item and not return them after all. An added benefit is that the returns policy could result in store credit ensuring a follow-on sale at a later date. To avoid –
- Understand the returns process – its convenience and the way the money is returned.
- Limit shopping to stores where you know and trust the product (and size) resulting in less likely returns.
- Strategic product layout
Studies have shown that – being busy and at times bored people rely on recommendations offered by the platform. These aren’t necessarily designed to offer the best value to users but in fact to clear unwanted inventory. To avoid –
- Order the products on price followed by customer reviews to ensure that you find the best value for your money.