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Avoid the trappings of ‘fast’ and ‘easy’ online shopping

From Redmart and Qoo10 to Carousell and Lazada, there is no shortage of sites for online shopping.

E-marketplaces are set to grow and that means the temptation to shop online will also intensify.

E-marketplaces are set to grow and that means the temptation to shop online will also intensify.

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From Redmart and Qoo10 to Carousell and Lazada, there is no shortage of sites for online shopping.

The increases in e-commerce sites and digital usage in Singapore have indeed led to more people shopping online.

E-commerce volume in Singapore this year is expected to reach US$5.2 billion (S$7 billion), according to online data provider Statista, and it is forecast to grow more than 12 per cent a year to US$8.4 billion by 2023.

This year, payment processor Worldpay reported that more than half of Singapore’s online shoppers will make purchases on their phones.

And with the expansion of online shopping for everything from groceries and meals to clothes and books, and more, it’s now possible to buy almost everything you need online.

Marketplace builder Arcadier’s co-founder Dinuke Ranasinghe expects that one key trend will be a growth in mega-marketplaces.

E-commerce players will expand so that they may provide consumers with a one-stop shop for online purchases.

Banks are also launching marketplaces for their customers to buy online and linking them to financial products.


Buying online can be easier, cheaper and more convenient than going to a store, especially when people use online promotions and cashback offers.

As consumers shop online, however, it’s easy to get lulled into spending too much.

The key to online shopping is buying right and setting certain limits for yourself.

Smart retail brands know their customers better than customers know themselves, trend scanning firm Trendwatching explains, which means retailers can offer an experience that allows customers to browse, test and buy products in innovative new ways.

Online shopping can even give people more satisfaction than going to the stores.

Research by Harvard professor Ann-Christine Duhaime found that humans get a pleasurable dopamine hit from buying stuff, so “your brain tweaks you to want more, more, more — of ‘stuff’ and of stimulation and novelty”.

Online shopping gives consumers a dopamine hit when they shop as well as when the order arrives, which can make online buys more physiologically rewarding than shopping in stores.

It’s therefore important to take specific steps to reduce the temptation to spend too much and buy on impulse, even when online shopping offers advantages.

Start by putting together a budget, so that you know how much to spend and avoid extra purchases.

Next, know what you’re looking for.

Research an item online, look at reviews, compare products and look for deals.

Experts say that researching an item online before buying it is a great way to stop impulse purchases, since you give your brain a break and can make a better decision.

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Another tip to reduce the temptation to overspend is to unsubscribe from merchants’ mailing lists.

One of the biggest challenges for many people is resisting temptation when they see an advertisement for something that looks like a great deal, even if they don’t actually need it.

Instead, you may use mobile applications catered to shoppers such as Shoptagr to notify you when items go on sale.

Setting up your computer or phone right can help, too. Periodically delete the cookies in your browser, which retailers use to track your personal data.

If you’re the type of person who gets excited about an item you’ve seen on Facebook or another site, deleting your browsing history and cookies can help make sure Google and Facebook don’t show you ads.

You should also avoid setting up one-click payment, so that it’s harder to buy something impulsively.

If you also use what finance website Dollars and Sense calls your browser’s “incognito mode”, you can help prevent online merchants from knowing too much about you. Your online shopping history won’t be saved and used to send ads for sales and other methods that prey on your fear of missing out.


If you want to save money when you do go online, you can go to sites such as Carousell to find second-hand goods and buy for less.

You may also consider using websites such as CupoNation or SGDTips that give you promotions and coupon codes. Shopping through cashback sites such as can save you money as well, with rebates when you shop at sites such as Lazada, Zalora, Expedia or Deliveroo.

And you can try leaving items in your shopping cart for a while, since some merchants will send an email with discounts for an items in your cart to encourage you to complete the purchase.

When you’re checking out, resist the urge to buy add-on products that stores offer right before you finish paying. If you didn’t need it or want it before, let it go.

Finally, when you make a payment, use the right credit card to get discounts or rebates.

The CIMB Signature Visa card gives 10 per cent back for online shopping, for instance, and the OCBC Frank card gives 6 per cent back.

You may also use services such as RateX, which finds promotion codes when you’re checking out so that you get cash back for your shopping and relatively good foreign exchange rates for overseas purchases.

While it’s easy to overspend or overpay if you’re not careful, using clever techniques can help make sure you make the best use of the advantages of online shopping.

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