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How a New Chrome Plugin Combats Our $17B Impulse Shopping Problem

September 6, 2017

10:50 am

Ecommerce loves instant gratification. It’s likely the biggest change that the trillion-dollar commerce industry has seen during its introduction to the internet: Customers can now see something, click a button, and own it. Impulse shopping is up, and the fashion industry is struggling to keep up with the sped-up fashion cycle that results. It’s a boon for visually oriented sites like Pinterest and Instagram, which have focused on tweaks like visual search options and attractive ‘Buy Now’ buttons.

But it’s easy to see the downside. Cutting out wait times means that customers are acting on impulse. What’s great for a shopping site may not be great for the customers it profits from.

And a new study from the personal finance comparison website finder.com now highlights the depths of this issue: According to their findings, an impressive 88.6 percent of American adults have made an impulse shopping purchase online for amounts that, combined, total $17.78 billion.

We’ve Got a Problem

That 88 percent stat wasn’t the only impressive reveal about the depths of America’s online addiction.

 “Of these people, 64.0 percent make an impulsive purchase online at least once a month, with the average session sitting at $81.45, according to a study of 2,245 Americans, commissioned by finder.com in July 2017 and conducted by global research provider Pureprofile,” the study informs me.

Of those admitting to an impulse purchase, regret was the leading experience after the session (44 percent), closely followed by contentment (43 percent), and indifference (32 percent).”

But the solution comes in the same format as the problem: A tech tweak that reaches people where they are, whether at a desktop computer, laptop, or mobile screen.

Putting ‘Buy Now’ Buttons on Ice

The finder.com study was packaged with its own ready-made solution: the Icebox tool, which works to replace the ‘Buy Now’ button on the 20 biggest ecommerce websites and block the pop-up reminders on 400+ additional store sites. It’s available for a free download from the Chrome webstore on desktop only, but has plans to roll out on Safari, Firefox and mobile devices in the near future.

By holding customers’ would-be purchases for between three and 30 days, the tool curbs impulse shopping decisions. Hopefully that 44 percent regret statistics can be converted into savings in the process.

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Adam is a writer with an interest in a variety of mediums, from podcasts to comic books to video essays to novels to blogging — too many, basically. He's based out of Seattle, and remains a staunch defender of his state's slogan: "sayWA." In his spare time, he recommends articles about science fiction on Twitter, @AdamRRowe

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