Many consumers have become more comfortable with online shopping in the last couple of years. The uptick in online purchases has caused an increase in savvy shopping behaviors, like bracketing — the practice of ordering multiple sizes and returning those that don't fit.
But despite shoppers finding new ways to deal with virtual hurdles, many say they've regretted past purchases. In a survey from online shopping platform Slickdeals, a substantial majority of shoppers (74%) say they've experienced buyer's remorse a handful of times, whether due to poor product quality, impulsive overspending or otherwise.
Top 5 reasons for online buyer's remorse
The majority of people who shop online (nearly three-quarters of them) don't just regret one or two of their past purchases. In fact, the Slickdeals survey found that 73% had disliked up to 15 items they'd purchased online.
According to respondents, their bad experiences have been due to a number of factors. These are the top reasons shoppers said they regretted a past purchase:
- Value didn't match the cost: 39%
- Product was less useful than expected: 34%
- Spent too much money: 32%
- Found a better version elsewhere: 32%
- Had to pay for return shipping: 31%
Perhaps one of the most surprising findings of the survey is the number of consumers who say they shop while inebriated, although Slickdeals didn't directly connect this behavior to buyer's remorse. In the survey, nearly 6 in 10 respondents reported that they shop online while under the influence, and as many as 63% say they've even forgotten what they ordered by the time it arrived.
Surprisingly, 72% of shoppers who faced shipping delays told Slickdeals that they didn't mind waiting. Their tolerance for delays stands in stark contrast to what consumers told Oracle in October 2021 — in that survey on supply chain issues, 80% of people said they would stop buying from a brand entirely because of delays or shortages.
Is there a way to avoid buyer's remorse?
Despite the convenience of shopping online, many consumers still want the opportunity to visually and manually inspect the items they intend to buy. Without the inability to personally assess product quality, online shoppers may always experience some degree of remorse.
In a November survey from PR form 5W Public Relations, respondents said in-store shopping is important, as they'd like to inspect the quality of a new product before buying — in particular, 52% said they prefer to find new products in stores rather than online.
But is it possible to improve the online shopping experience and reduce buyer's remorse? Slickdeals says there are certainly common mistakes to avoid, like failing to read return policies.
Here are some of the things you can do — before a purchase — to improve the online shopping experience:
- Check shipping cost and fees
- Look at the estimated shipping date
- Review the vendor's return policy
- Check to see what materials the product is made of
- Review product sizes and/or measurements
- Read buyer reviews
- Give yourself a day or two to reconsider before buying
- Wait for a promotion or sale
- Add items to a wish list and save up money for the purchase in advance
- Delete shopping apps from your phone
- Don't allow retail websites to store your credit card or mobile wallet information
Another great way to reduce buyer's remorse is to look for comparable items from a small business, rather than a large retailer, according to a report from Union Bank. In the bank's October survey, 83% of people said that shopping at a small business was money well spent.
Methodology: The survey of 2,000 Americans was conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Slickdeals from Feb. 8-10, 2022.*