When the holidays come around, we may start surfing the internet and looking into different things that might make us happy, including impulse items. Suppose you are looking at a potential vacation destination and your booking website indicates that only 1 room is left for your planned date. You go ahead and make the booking – but was it what you really wanted? Maybe not.

Looking into this phenomenon is a team of researchers from the University of Michigan, who analyzed 200 huge retailers online and then asked customers what tools might be useful to try to reduce impulse purchases. Of course, we know there are all kinds of things that websites do to try to get you to impulsively book: discounts and sales, product ratings, incentive screens, a limited number of items remaining and so on.

“Many consumers are familiar with the marketing tactics they could push to buy in a traditional store, but the novelty on the internet is the amount of information that electronic retailers have about their consumers or other real-time data, such as the exact number of products left in stock or the number of customers who also have that product in their shopping cart at this time,” says Carol Moser, lead author of the study. To conduct their research, the authors of this study analyzed more than 200 online stores, including Macys.com, Amazon.com, Newegg.com, Target.com and more. They found that a staggering 192 out of 200 major ecommerce websites engaged in what are called “social influence characteristics”, where they recommend items based on what other people buy.

In addition, about 2 in 3 websites (69%) would use a countdown timer, along with a limited stock warning to try to induce the surfer to buy.

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Antonio Elezra

I have been living in the US for 12 years and graduated from Penn State University 3 years ago. I currently write for Pop Top News on a part-time basis.

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Antonio Elezra