As a former store manager, I became adept at persuading people to part with their money. I knew my customers. I greeted them when they shopped, learned their kids’ and their pets’ names, favorite colors, and style preferences. I maintained a light touch and never forced anything on them but I created a beautifully appointed, friendly environment that included light refreshments. When they spent their money, they purchased their goods but they also had a pleasant experience. My store did the work for me.
Fast forward to 2021, a lockdown and e-commerce. Shoppers are no longer being escorted around stores, online sales have increased exponentially, and those who are financially stable are continuing to spend money of their own accord, with no store manager convincing them to do so. How?
The convergence of many things has contributed to the $105 billion increase in online sales. It began because of convenience, then became a necessity because of the lockdown, and now has become part of our life pattern. Companies with brick-and-mortar stores found that pivoting to the online marketplace was much more cost-effective. Culture influencers for lifestyle brands are the new “managers” who escort shoppers to the “register” and having a mass of followers is the new currency.
Some of the old strategies have found a new home online. If you’ve noticed a quicker rotation of the newer versions of smartphones, sneakers, digital tablets, and computers, you’re completely right. With pop-up ads and algorithms finely honed to tempt us with newer, bigger, brighter, and shinier things, how do we protect our wallets and our financial wellness?
Without some financial guardrails in place, we could find ourselves with full online shopping carts. But if we do just a couple of things and ask ourselves a few questions before shopping, we can save money.
1. Just as it’s a good practice to not go to a store hungry, don’t shop online when you’re hungry, either. Even though you may not be shopping for food, your brain will still react to hunger and you might spend more than you intend.
2. Use a timer when you shop online. Scrolling is not your friend, particularly if you’re bored, or not looking to buy a specific item. When you’re not mindfully participating in the activity of shopping, you can be prone to “buying just to buy.”
3. Establish a dollar amount before you click on a website. Write the number down and own it by making a contract with yourself to spend only that amount. Writing things down make it easier for you to keep to your budget.
4. Wait. Once you put something in your shopping cart, get up and walk away. Waiting for an hour before you hit “buy now” will give you time to think so you can make a rational financial decision, rather than an emotional one.
5. Have an accountability partner. There’s a proverb that says, “If you want to go fast, go by yourself but if you want to go far, go together”. As we emerge from lockdown, we will need to develop new habits and skills, and that’s to be expected because the shopping landscape has changed so drastically.
If you are experiencing financial difficulty and are looking for a solution, CESI is here to help. Our counselors are available to assist if you are experiencing job loss, temporary loss of income, or financial hardship during this time. Contact us today for a free financial assessment with one of our certified credit counselors.
Consumer Education Services, Inc. empowers people to overcome their financial challenges and lead financially-healthy lives.
CESI is NOT A LOAN COMPANY