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Booze-fueled online shopping sessions produce surprises for some

The thing about shopping online these days is that it’s so darn easy to buy stuff. Websites bedecked with attractive product photos and tempting offers are a breeze to browse, and once you’ve performed the simple deed of opening an account with an online store, a purchase is but one click away.

But, as highlighted by a New York Times report on Wednesday, there’s another little discussed factor that makes it even easier for some people to hand over their cash to a virtual shop assistant, and that’s alcohol.

You may have done it yourself. Got home from work. Settled yourself into your favorite armchair. Powered up your laptop. Mouse in one hand, large glass of wine in the other. Straight to the shopping sites. One bottle of plonk later, you’ve booked a vacation you didn’t even know you wanted.

Indeed, the NYT’s report includes the case of Australian accountant Chris Tansey. He had more than a few alcoholic beverages one night and ended up paying $10,000 for a motorcycle tour of New Zealand. “The hang-ups of spending your hard-earned cash are so far removed from your life when you’ve had a bottle of wine,” Tansey said.

In a survey of its British-based customers, comparison-shopping site Kelkoo said that almost 50 percent had gone online to shop after drinking alcohol. One wonders if any of those ended up buying a vacation in New Zealand.

Alcohol was “absolutely” a factor in at least some online purchases at eBay, the website’s vice president for mobile Steve Yankovich told the NYT. He put this down to the fact that the eBay site gets the most traffic between 6.30pm and 10.30pm, a time when people are most likely to have a drink in their hand. “I mean, if you think about what most people do when they get home from work in the evening, it’s decompression time. The consumer’s in a good mood,” Yankovich said.

Consumer behavior expert Nancy Puccinelli of Oxford University’s Saïd Business School said that for most of us alcohol has the effect of lifting our mood and making us feel relaxed, so then “if we see a product and we feel good, we will evaluate the product more positively.” Which means pretty much one thing—clicking the ‘buy’ button.

Alcohol-induced purchases obviously aren’t all bad, but there must be a fair number which consumers regret making come the next morning. Have you ever put one too many items in your cart while shopping online slightly sloshed? Or worse, had something delivered that you can’t even remember ordering?

[Image: Peter Hansen / Shutterstock]

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