HOW ONLINE retailers use HIDDEN PERSUASION tactics

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I needed help with my piles so I went to the pile sufferers’ first port of call; Argos! These piles needed storage space and plenty of it.

I’m tired of tripping over mountains of books laid out on my study floor, not to mention the boxes filled with old credit card and bank statements that I can’t be bothered to shred.

The lure of internet shopping

The lure of internet shopping

All I need is a nice storage unit to bung it all into. So I revved up my computer and went cruising down the shopping aisles of cyber space.

I decided a large bookshelf would solve my pile problem. I quickly found something I thought was suitable until the message popped up ‘Two people are looking at this,’ followed by ‘Purchased five times in 48 hours’.

Only two people, why what’s wrong with it, I asked myself? Only five have been sold in the past two days by this huge company!

Did I really want something that others were bypassing in droves? I decided to keep looking.

I perused another style of bookcase in a different colour. This time a message popped up saying; ‘Seventeen people are looking at this.’ Then; ‘Going fast purchased fourteen times in 48 hours’. This was more like it I thought.

I found myself getting quite excited.

I thought it would be great if I could actually see the 17 other people looking at the item at present. I wanted to see the faces of the fellow members of this little exclusive bookcase appreciation society.

Shopping websites use all sorts of mind tricks to influence our brains into deciding to buy. Online retailers create feelings of fear, excitement or pleasure to push us into a purchase.

A ploy that I know works for me is when I’m looking at an item and see ‘only 1 in stock’.

This usually motivates me into action to purchase because the item seems popular and I have a fear of missing out.

The threat of an item being scarce creates in us the urgency to buy. By making a product appear limited in availability, its perceived value rises.

Another online selling trick that almost whips me into a panic attack is when I’m ordering concert tickets online and the clock appears in the corner.

My stomach somersaults as I compete to race against time to make that all important purchase. I feel like I’m on Countdown, it’s rather exhilarating.

When I finally make it through the entire purchasing process, I swell with pride.

A feeling of achievement envelopes me, then I feel a bit miffed when I see the amount added on to my ticket for service charge. What service, I scoff? I did all the work myself!

Women seem to feel the urge to shop more strongly than men.

US scientists believe this comes from our evolutionary past when men were hunters, if they found a satisfactory elk they would want to kill it and get it home as fast as possible.

This pattern can still be seen in the male shopping ritual today in the way they make lightening purchases, then disappear fast.

Where as the female of the species was the primary gatherer.

Women felt the need to check out every berry on the bush to ensure she was getting the best deal. And so the evolutionary process led us from the woods to today’s cyber shopping highways and their hidden persuasion trickery.

As I continued my bookcase shopping, I found myself looking for the pop up box telling me how many people were viewing and how many had bought the item. It was certainly swaying my opinion.

I was instantly put off by one when I saw only two people were looking at it and no sign of a recent sale, it felt a bit like arriving at a boring party.

Then I discovered a white bookcase with 19 people looking at it and no less that 48 sold in 48 hours.

This was it! I would be the 49th member of this bookcase buying club. Then I deflated a little and suddenly felt like Groucho Marx when he said; ‘I refuse to join any club that would accept me as a member.’ I didn’t purchase.

It appears the secret weapon to overcoming online seller’s hidden persuasion tricks is low self esteem!