Is Shopping On Amazon Addictive?
Without a doubt, shopping compulsion and shopping addiction very much exist in the United States. According to at 2010 study, as many as 18 Million people residing in the United States may suffer from shopping addiction and shopping compulsion. These figures will likely increase as high speed internet, mobile phones, and general adoption of internet use continue to increase.
Back in 1995 when Jeff Bezos launched Amazon, he had big plans for becoming an e-commerce giant. That being said, one can’t help but think that not even he knew that Amazon would one day become as big as the rainforest it was named after… if not bigger. However, Amazon doesn’t exist in a vacuum – there have been numerous technological advances in other areas that have enabled Jeff Bezos’ e-commerce monster to become more engrained in our daily lives than ever thought possible.
High-speed internet, social media, and mobile phones have become ubiquitous in modern society. Moreover, they each have found a place in Amazon’s strategy to take over everything that is retail. Before we dive into the mechanisms within the Amazon experience that foster addiction, let’s talk about the general idea of shopping.
As with all pleasurable activities, we enjoy shopping because the experience elicits a dopamine response in our brain. Dopamine is the neurotransmitter that allows us to experience the sensation of pleasure. Amazon business model and infrastructure makes access to that desired dopamine release almost a little too easy, providing the perfect conditions for a pavlovian relationship with making purchases through their services.
Here are some ways in which Amazon makes shopping online a potentially addictive experience.
Receiving Packages In The Mail
Anyone who has shopped on Amazon will tell you the joy they feel when they get home from work and have an Amazon package waiting on their doorstep. After experiencing this, or after receiving a series of packages on consecutive days, coming home from work and not having a package waiting on your doorstep can cause you to feel robbed of your Amazon dopamine fix. The next thing you know, you may find yourself looking for excuses to order online during your downtime at work in in order to ensure a package is waiting on your doorstep.
Text Message Updates
In addition to receiving packages on your doorstep, it can also be a source of pleasure to follow the delivery process from Order Confirmation to Delivery on your phone. Each update a consumer receives adds a gaming quality to the purchasing experience – during the monotony of a uneventful day at work, it can be a small joy to feel your phone vibrate, take it out of your pocket, and see that your package has made a little bit of progress towards your doorstep.
Part of Amazon’s model is to make the online shopping experience as easy as possible by removing as many barriers to purchase as possible. The less steps, the more the user can receive instant gratification. The ultimate representation of this pillar of the consumer experience is the One-Click Purchase feature.
With chemical addictions to illicit substances or prescription drugs, the method of administration plays a key role in the consumer’s likelihood of forming an addiction – the faster a drug hits the brain, the more addictive potential it generally has. One-Click Shopping is the equivalent of an injection.
In addition to one-click shopping, mobile phones also make Amazon shopping addiction easier than ever to foster. Any time a thought comes to mind, a user with the Amazon app can easily take their phone out of their pocket to get a dopamine fix with some browsing and purchasing. This can be a go-to source of pleasure to help fill in the boring gaps in the day, such as waiting for a bus or sitting at your desk at work.
Selection & Recommendations
Amazon is an incredible company. They’re not simply an online retail company, but a data company. In some ways, Amazon knows your preferences better than you ever will. This can make the Amazon experience even more intoxicating – every time you log in to your account, Amazon is providing you with algorithm, and behaviorally determined recommendations for what to buy next. It’s like Amazon knows you, and who doesn’t like it when someone understands their needs? Additionally, if you can think of it, you will probably be able to find it on Amazon.
Digital Media Is Addictive By Design
Amazon is undoubtedly one of the most technologically advanced accomplishments of technology in modern history. Their goal is to make the shopping experience as easy and satisfying as possible. The result is a platform that provides its users with products on demands, with short wait times and minimal button clicks. Shopping addiction and shopping compulsion are real, and is easier than ever to develop through digital media.
However, Amazon is just one piece of the puzzle. The goal of most technology companies – including Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Amazon, and various other primarily digital companies – is to provide a seamless experience that keeps the user engaged and always looking for reasons to come back. As such, addiction is a part of their business model, in a sense – some of these companies even hire ethics specialists and psychologists to help maintain a standard of ethical behavior in design.