Why You Actually Spend More Online When You Know Less About What You’re Buying

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Apparently, that old adage “knowledge is power” doesn’t apply to your online shopping habits: According to Psychology Today, having too much information in an e-commerce context actually makes people less likely to shell out. Interestingly, both retailers and customers tend to think that more details, such as product reviews and lots of nitty-gritty particulars, propels customers to actually go through with purchases. That makes sense: We all want to feel like we’re making the most informed decisions possible when parting with hard-earned cash.

But since shopping is such an emotionally driven experience, having all the facts isn’t really what’s compelling you to buy those heels (though it can help you make decisions about unsexy stuff, like an insurance policy or a loan). “While the logical process is certainly a key factor in considered purchases such as insurance or financial products, it is actually detrimental to the retail-consumer industry, where emotional decision-making or the impulse purchase plays a central role,” wrote Liraz Margalit, Ph.D., in Psychology Today.

The publication’s study of online shopping behavior found that people who ultimately go through with a purchase don’t bother scrolling through loads of customer reviews or generally spending a lot of time mulling their prospective purchases. This proved to be the case whether someone is hitting “buy” on a total whim or has peeked at the page multiple times. Lots of information “forces customers to invest cognitive resources that they weren’t planning on investing,” according to the study. In other words, we feel compelled to do homework and think a little harder about if that “must-buy” is truly worth it.

Moral of the story? We think we know what we want from our click-to-buy encounters, but, really, we don’t even know what we want. Guess knowing less really is more when it comes to doing some serious e-comm damage.

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