It doesn’t take too much effort to turn a regular shopping activity into addiction. And it doesn’t take too much effort to prevent it.
Have you been extensively shopping online in recent months? Probably yes. Most of us have to stay at home, and the only way to meet old and new needs is to order products on the web.
Is there something that bothers you? Lost control of your orders? Too many credit card payments that you can’t identify? Too much time spent in online stores?
Compare your symptoms with early signs of online shopping addiction, and make sure to follow a few simple tips in the following list.
Simple ways to avoid online shopping addiction
1. Clean your browser from shopping-related content
An internet browser is the most common way to explore online stores and place orders.
If you want to free yourself from online shopping, start from a browser on your computer. Here is what you can do:
▸ Delete history – the browser remembers the sites you have visited to help you easier find them the next time. You don’t want the next time – go to your browser’s settings area and delete either the entire history or just the online stores.
▸ Remove bookmarks – have you bookmarked any web page from online stores, for instance the Gold Box deals homepage on Amazon or Coupons & Deals on B&N? Go to your browser’s bookmark manager and use a search tool to find and delete every url address related to shopping.
▸ Install an ad blocker – browser ads are nasty: they keep displaying ads from online stores that you have recently visited. If you can’t resist clicking on them, the only help is an ad blocker. Go to the extensions section of your browser and find one.
2. Get rid of shopping apps
More and more people start using apps from online stores. They are a convenient way to find products & deals, buy products, or track orders.
An icon of a shopping app on the home screen of your tablet or phone is like a trap: it promises a next great purchase in just a few taps.
There are at least three ways to get rid of shopping apps. Which one do you choose?
▸ Remove the apps – don’t worry, you can download them again to your tablet or smartphone any time.
▸ Hide the apps – don’t make them stand out on the home screen. You can put them inside a folder or move to the secondary screen.
▸ Disable notifications – even when you hide the app, it may still send you notifications making you vulnerable again. Make sure to disable notifications from all the shopping apps you keep.
3. Manage emails from online stores
If you have registered to an online store, you have probably agreed to receive occasional emails.
The more addicted to online shopping you are, the more probable it is you click on shopping emails.
Reduce that probability by doing one of the following:
▸ Move them away from priority inbox – if your email client offers a feature that puts together the most important emails, review them and remove the ones from online stores.
▸ Unsubscribe from emails – when you receive an email from an online store, click on it, scroll down and find a text at the bottom – usually in small type – that includes “Unsubscribe” link. Click on the link and uncheck all the options in the following screen.
▸ Update online store settings – another way to stop an online store from sending you email newsletters is to visit your profile page and uncheck all options in the email notification panel.
Don’t mark emails from online stores as spam. One day, you may want to re-enable these emails, and you won’t see them – they will all land in a spam box.
4. Adjust settings in your social media
Even if you get rid of shopping links in your browser or email, it doesn’t mean you won’t see them in your Twitter or Facebook timeline – just the opposite.
Social networks are crowded with advertising messages and links, and you should make sure they won’t be hitting you too often.
Here are two ideas:
▸ Disable ad personalization – the more relevant the ad is, the bigger the chance you click on it. Social networks can display ads that are based on your profile and activity. If you disable ad personalization in the network’s settings, you will still see the ads, but they will be much less relevant for you.
▸ Disable video autoplaying – may companies use video format to advertise their products in social networks. If you disable video autoplaying, you will have to click on a video to play it. By disabling ad autoplaying, you reduce the risk of a new product catching your attention.
5. Find and break your online shopping routine
In what situations do you visit online stores the most?
Is it in the morning, with the first sip of coffee, during the day between work and home duties, or in the evening, when all family members are in their rooms?
If you spend some time observing yourself, you will be likely to spot and define your shopping routine – and it will be easier for you to break it.
For instance, if you shop in the evening, close the computer and hide it in the drawer. Watch evening news on your TV, reach for the book, or go for a walk.
6. Make shopping lists
Don’t start shopping the moment a new need hits your mind.
Online shopping is easy. You can order anything immediately, and have it delivered the next day.
On the other hand, visiting online stores just to buy one product doesn’t end well: you will buy more than that – and most probably something you don’t need.
The most obvious reason to avoid one-product shopping is a free delivery. Most stores offer this options after the value of your basket exceeds a certain level. You start looking for products that would make you eligible…
Instead of instant shopping, start making to-buy lists. Add new products, but visit your online store only when there are enough items on the list to get the free shipping.
7. Manage your orders without stress
Do you feel tension when waiting for a new order to arrive? Does it make you cancel meetings or errands just to be certain you are at home the moment a delivery man comes?
Don’t get too worried about orders. Keep calm and manage your orders the way that doesn’t add another layer of stress.
Here are two ideas:
▸ Choose a delivery to a parcel locker – some online stores let you pick up a delivery to a parcel locker instead of home address. It’s the most convenient way to take the package the time you want.
▸ Change the address of the active shipment – some delivery companies offer users options to modify the shipment after it’s been dispatched. For instance, you can change the destination address from your home to the nearest collect point or parcel locker.
8. Disable one-click button
One-click payment is a popular option offered by Amazon. You can purchase anything without going through the multi-step order process.
One-click and other payment improvements that let you buy without hassle are convenient but addictive.
The sheer fact that you can’t buy something in an instant may be enough to prevent you from buying it at all.
9. Delete a payment method after every purchase
You can go even further than just disabling the one-click payment.
Make it a rule to remove the credit card (or any other payment method) after every successfully paid purchase.
The next time you want to buy something, you will have to go through the process of registering a new payment method. It may be enough to make you realize that you don’t need at all the product you have added to your basket.
10. Find the product before visiting an online store
Buying any product involves collecting information about it, comparing features, and reading reviews.
During this process your needs most likely evolve. When you do it directly in the online store, you are very likely to buy something. Sometimes it’s very far from the product you had intended to buy, and it’s because something else caught your attention.
Change your attitude. Choose the right product, brand, and model before you visit the store. You can browse online stores just to compare prices and shipping conditions.
▸ Read round-up lists on the web – use Google search to find popular lists of top products in the category you are interested in.
▸ Read extended reviews on the web – once you have a list of two or three products, try to find and read reviews on the web instead of going directly to an online store.
▸ Watch video reviews and roundups – even better, find and watch relevant videos on YouTube. You will see the product in action and make the decision whether you need it at all.
11. Buy as you would not have been able to return it
These days, online stores let you return products without asking questions. It makes many customers place order after order, as they know they can easily return anything that doesn’t suit them.
Imagine that you buy something without the chance to return it. Think of what would happen then. Would you really need it? Would you use it if it weren’t good enough? Would you try to sell it or gift it?
12. Make a one sentence test
When you find a product, give yourself a break, take a notebook or open a note-taking app and make a quick test:
Write down why you need this product, and then read it aloud.
If it doesn’t sound stupid, it means you really need this product.
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