Major online retailers, including Aliexpress and Amazon, are manipulating Swiss consumers, tempting them to buy excessively, by using different “dark” methods, a Swiss study published Wednesday said.
The study, conducted jointly by the Consumer Federation for French-speaking Switzerland (FRC) and Swiss non-governmental organization Public Eye, systematically examined large online shops selling fashion items for 20 of the most common tricks used to influence consumers’ decision to purchase.
“By far the most dark patterns, 18, were identified at the Chinese ultra-fast fashion shop Shein. The Chinese platform Aliexpress, the US company Amazon and the French Shop La Redoute follow some distance behind, but still with an above average number of different dark patterns,” the study read.
Dark patterns, referred to in the study, are different visual techniques, which influence consumers’ purchasing environment and eventually make users buy excessively. Another goal of the so-called dark patterns is to disclose personal data of people using online shops.
Online shops use such popular methods as promo codes with short duration, tempting to buy more with a promise of “free items,” pushing to promote a shop to users’ friends by offering a discount for every friend invited, sneaking products into the basket and other.
The FRC and Public Eye have urged the Swiss government and parliament to address this problem and enforce legislation regulating the online shop industry, which “hampers the efforts being made to promote more responsible consumer behavior.”