Cognitive biases and e-commerce: How they can Influence your sales

As it turns out, humans are not as rational as we think we are. In order to not be constantly overwhelmed, and to make our constant decision-making easier, we create shortcuts in our brains. This leads us to Cognitive biases – common misconceptions that occur when we value perception or beliefs over reality.

Here’s our selection of most common eCommerce approaches based on cognitive biases:

The Compromise Effect

In 1992 experiment with Minolta cameras participants had to choose between $169.99 and $239.99 worth of cameras – the results were close to 50/50;

Next time one more option was added – a $469.99 camera, which made the previously most expensive $239.99 camera a compromise middle option. And 57% of participants have chosen the middle one.

How to apply: Present users with 3 versions of the product/service, making the one you would like to sell the most a ‘compromise’.

Loss Aversion

This one comes from 1979 Kahneman and Tversky insurance study concluding that people prefer not to lose something they already have than to get something of equivalent value. Most people will find it more painful to lose money than to miss out on an opportunity to gain the same amount.

How to apply: You can incorporate this by remembering that your users will go out of their way to avoid risking a loss. Offer free samples and free trials – this way users won’t fear losing money if your product won’t work for them. Plus, free trials tend to create an attachment, which often leads to customer’s loyalty.

The Ikea Effect

In a 2011 study research consumers had to assemble IKEA boxes, fold origami, and build Lego pieces. It was observed that participants saw their creations as similar in value to the creations of experts. The researchers concluded that people tend to value a product more if they were involved in its creation – even if they were originally uninterested in being involved.

How to apply: Give users the option of having your products customised for them or by them. Whether it’s the packaging or certain parts of the product itself, offering a customisable option guarantees more involvement from your customer.

Risk Compensation

A 1975 Peltzman’s study concluded that when laws – such as mandatory use of seatbelts and other safety devices – were introduced to establish safety, drivers started driving more risky when using those devices than in their absence.

People tend to be more careful if they feel there is greater risk if they take an action and less careful if they feel there is little risk in them taking this action.

What does it mean for e-commerce? The less “risky” is doing business with you, the higher will be your conversions.

How to apply: 

  • Make it easy to contact you – through support chat, ‘contact us’ page and your social media dm’s;
  • Establish a quick and reliable return/refund policy.

Let us know if you have any questions – we would be happy to elevate your e-commerce.


Monsoon Consulting are Ireland’s only Adobe Gold Solution Partner, focusing on delivering best in class B2B and B2C eCommerce solutions to large companies such as Uniphar PLC, Sysco (Pallas Foods), Topline, Heat Merchants Group, One4All and Central Bank of Ireland.

The team at Monsoon provide a full-service offering from business consultancy & strategic planning, UX & UI creative design, development & engineering, Infra & Dev ops to a dedicated Support team, offering 24×7 critical application support.

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