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Sales Tactics of Online Outlets Revealed

07 January 2020 - 13:52 by Sarah Collinson

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Research conducted in the US has highlighted the different strategies that e-commerce sites use to make customers spend more cash via safe shopping online, according to Popular Mechanics.

In particular, the team focused on the use of ‘dark patterns’ which are exhibited in certain user interface design choices and which are not limited to the world of online shopping but are present across almost every digital service.

Sometimes this might involve hiding an important option, such as a feature that lets you opt out of any integrated advertising or cookie tracking, deep within an obscure part of a settings menu. In other cases it may involve misleading messaging which implies that a product is nearly out of stock, when in reality this is not the case.

For the less scrupulous online retailers, another way to get customers to spend more is to insert other items into their shopping basket in a clandestine way as part of the purchasing journey. Hidden costs, such as fees which are applicable to certain types of card payment or delivery options, can also fall into the category of dark patterns identified by analysts, with almost a tenth of the retail sites investigated in the report found to be using at least one of these strategies.

The good news is that the retailers with the best reputations are usually those which avoid using such problematic tactics to boost sales and outwit customers. That is not to say that every mainstream e-commerce site is entirely innocent, of course, so it pays for customers to keep their eyes open and read everything carefully before they buy to avoid upset.

Better regulation of the way e-commerce sites operate will help to overcome this issue, although there are so many threads for regulators to target that it may take time to eliminate them all.