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Next Time You Shop on Amazon Consider These 5 Psychological Tricks and Avoid Overspending

Or don’t spend at all

Photo by Hello I’m Nik on Unsplash

Jeff Bezos recently became the first person to surpass the $200 billion fortune threshold. He would’ve arrived there earlier if it weren’t for his controversial divorce that gave his wife $63 billion, becoming the second richest woman on Earth. Either way, it’s too much money for one person to have, but that’s a topic for another article.

You want to know how he makes the big bucks, right?

Amazon is obsessed with its clients. They say this all the time and they really mean it. They want to know everything about us, especially how we behave online. Thanks to an endless stream of data analysis they know how to get under your skin and before you know it, your money has been shipped to Amazon’s headquarters.

Let’s see how they do it.

#1 Scarcity — “Only one item left!”

Screenshot from Amazon

Amazon shows you the number of goods left for a particular product with a harmless side note “order soon”. What do you mean order soon? Will it disappear forever after the last one is purchased? Or if they’re going to replenish with more items, when will that be?

I better get it now before it’s too late!

This item becomes highly valued because we think to ourselves “if there are only a few left, it must be an amazing product”. We get sucked into this emotional rumbling inside of us and let our feelings decide our purchase.

You could also say, “well, Amazon is just ensuring they’re being transparent with you” but that’s double-layered. On the surface, yes, but they’re also inciting you to an impulsive purchase (“order soon”).

#2 Urgency — “There’s no time to waste, buy now!”

Screenshot from Amazon

Amazon has these lightning deals that are special discounts for a limited amount of time. They advise you to complete your order as soon as possible.

Come on, if you see that 92% of the items have been claimed and the deal ends in 36 seconds, don’t you feel anxious? Not even a little bit? Remember, it’s that thing you wanted for a while and you’re saving 43% on it. You won’t get another chance!

They’re appealing to your sense of urgency and making it very simple to purchase. Those two factors combined increase the likelihood of a successful purchase. On the other hand, if the process is too slow or complex, you’ll have time to think it twice. They want you to avoid second-guessing your hasty choices.

#3 Warped Perspective — “You’re saving money on your purchase”

Screenshot from Amazon

We all know that discounts are the oldest trick in town but these products are not advertised as discounts. Instead of putting the final price directly, it’s broken down into 3 categories:

  • List Price: the price it’s usually sold at, allegedly.
  • End Price: the price you’re going to actually pay.
  • Saved: the difference between the two, both in $ and in %

They’re not really telling you these items are on a discount, but we as customers get the idea that we’re doing a smart purchase and saving money by buying it this way.

The thing is, some of these products are always portrayed like this. According to recent news from Spain’s newspaper, El Mundo, an electro stimulator has been marketed this way for almost 2 years.

So does the list price actually exist?

#4 Personalized Purchase — “This is the right one for YOU”

Don’t you like it when you’re the recommendations actually apply to you? Don’t you feel they really know you?

Well, they actually do.

They’re experts at human behavior. Each person navigating through their platform has a different experience. Amazon might be showing you sport items while your friend’s screen displays book covers (or assuming you’re the nerdy one at Medium you get the latter).

They’re tracking your every click, the amount of time spent on each page, your scroll speed, your mouse movement around a webpage, and so on.

Now, this is very useful for a customer. Not only can you save time by having things you like right in front of you, but you also find great new products that suit your interests.

The thing is, you might be drawn to rash decisions and buying things you don’t actually need. And this might be the most frequent case, am I right?

#5 Trusting stranger’s opinions — “Others approve, why don’t you buy it then?”

Before you buy something you tend to check out the score and reviews on that product. You trust what others say about it and their feedback encourages you to buy it.

But how reliable are those reviews?

Companies know the importance of ratings and reviews to get their products placed higher on Amazon’s search. They know it will lead to an increase in sales so they are tempted to pay people to get better reviews on their products.

For instance, this one reviewer was being constantly reimbursed for her purchases. The company bribed her onto leaving excellent reviews in exchange for free products. She purchased over 700 products this way.

Before you say that Amazon banns these kinds of activities, think twice. In this earlier case, Amazon simply didn’t notice. She made the purchases from her own account so the reviews were labeled “verified purchase”. And this is more frequent than you might think.

Amazon tends to be more reactive than proactive on these kinds of issues, so don’t be too easily persuaded next time you see a 5-star review item.

Final Thoughts

The best way to avoid these 5 tricks is not to spend money on Amazon at all. But that doesn’t cut it, we all go there to look around and get things without leaving our desk/couch. It’s easy and simple, why wouldn’t we keep buying stuff like this?

I get it. But be a conscious buyer and don’t get fooled by these common tricks:

  • Scarcity effect: makes you feel that the item is more valuable than it actually is because there are only a few left.
  • Sense of Urgency: get you all worried because the item is time-sensitive and lures you into hasty purchases.
  • Warped Perspective: makes you feel like doing a smart purchase because you’re saving money on the original prices that never sold as such.
  • Personalization: add items to your cart that have been preselected by Amazon’s algorithm, thus making you buy things you don’t really need.
  • Trusting a strangers’ opinion: deciding your purchase based on ratings and reviews that are not always true.

So next time you want to buy something keep these tricks in mind and don’t make any rash decisions you might regret later.

We all need things, I know, just stay a mindful consumer when it comes to purchases on Amazon or any other online store.

By Pavle Marinkovic on .

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