Home Business & Industry Revealed: The Sneaky Tricks Online Stores Use to Make You Spend More

Revealed: The Sneaky Tricks Online Stores Use to Make You Spend More

Published: Last updated:
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Online retailers are luring shoppers to spend more and they don’t even realise it, a retail expert says.

Brands don’t want shoppers to know these covert tactics used to persuade them to buy their products, but armed with this information on what to avoid, you can actually save money instead of spending more.

Retail expert Stephanie Hood from TheCMO.com, says: “Have you ever received an email from a retailer with a subject line like “Oops, we made a mistake!”? Well, most of the time, it’s no accident. Retailers are on to the fact that curiosity kills the cat, or in this case, burns a hole in the shopper’s pocket. These emails often claim a pricing error, only to offer the product at a slightly lower price than usual, creating a false sense of urgency and a deal too good to pass up.”

It’s easy to be tempted into the latest purchase, and studies show 50% of TikTok users actually buy things there, while these numbers are much less for YouTube (48%), Instagram (43%) and X (20%). 

Stephanie continues: “Flash sales are the retail equivalent of a siren song for shoppers. These limited-time offers create an illusion of scarcity that can make even the most hesitant buyer rush to make a purchase. TikTok shops often use limited-time offers to create a sense of urgency. By promoting products that are “only available for the next 24 hours” or until supplies last, sellers can drive immediate sales as users rush to catch a deal before it disappears.”

Knowing this next tactic is useful if you’re looking to save money on a purchase and don’t mind waiting a bit longer.

Stephanie says: “Beat the brands at their own game. If you have the patience, try adding items to your shopping cart and then leaving the website. Within hours, it’s likely you’ll receive an email nudging you back with a small discount. Retailers know that once you’ve shown interest in a product, you’re more likely to buy if you feel you’re getting a deal. This strategy effectively turns browsers into buyers by exploiting a common weakness – the fear of missing out.”

The decoy effect is another sophisticated strategy used to manipulate your choice between two options by adding a third, less appealing option. Stephanie explains: “If you’re comparing two jackets, one priced at £100 and another at £150, a retailer might introduce a third jacket for £145 that’s less attractive. The presence of this decoy tends to shift consumer preference towards the higher-priced, better-value £150 jacket, boosting the retailer’s profit margin.”

TikTok’s algorithm is exceptionally good at delivering content that users find engaging. For TikTok shops, this means products can be strategically placed in videos that are more likely to be seen by potential buyers based on their previous viewing behaviour. 

Stephanie adds: “This personalised content makes the shopping experience feel more tailored to individual users, increasing the likelihood of purchases. Videos on TikTok shops are not only about showcasing products but also about creating interactive and engaging experiences. Sellers might use humour, challenges, or tutorials to demonstrate the value of their products. This type of content tends to get more shares and likes, extending the reach of the products and enticing more purchases.”

© Copyright 2014–2034 Psychreg Ltd