You may spend more if you order online: 5 on Your Side
If you are a big fan of ordering online at the expense of brick-and-mortar stores, a Duke University study says you are probably spending more than if you had placed the order in person.Posted — Updated
American consumers have grown accustomed to ordering online, whether it be groceries, household goods or pizza for the Super Bowl. Duke researchers focused primarily on pizza for their study and found that online orders can lead to indulgence.
Dawn Sercio, the owner of Cristo's NY Style Pizza in Raleigh, said online orders tend to generate higher sales.
"They'll do a lot of extra sides," she said. "And it seems like we sell more desserts, too."
Sercio's experience with online ordering leading to larger, more complicated purchases is anecdotal.
But Ryan McDevitt, who teaches economics at Duke's Fuqua School of Business, looked into the influence of online ordering after hearing from a friend who owned a pizza restaurant.
"It was really the fact that we removed that layer of social interaction," he said. "Now we can say that you'd be willing to buy something that you wouldn't otherwise because you'd be embarrassed. You can be a little bit of a pig online (and) no one's judging you (so) you don't feel bad about yourself."
McDevitt said customers have embraced online ordering.
"You wouldn't believe some of the orders we're getting now that we have online ordering," he said. There are "just some crazy combinations we've never seen before (with) all these extra toppings . . . (and) just really elaborate orders."
"When you're online, you're anonymous (so) you just behave differently," he said.
McDevitt also found that social interaction impacted liquor sales in Sweden.
"When they went to a self-service format, so you no longer have to ask for it, we saw sales of these elaborate French wines or Scotches that you couldn't pronounce, those sales went up 10 fold."
McDevitt believes the findings apply to all areas of self-serve and online orders.
"We're social creatures so we can't help but be a little bit more reluctant to do something if we're going to be embarrassed to make a mistake or to look foolish, or to have someone judge us for our eating habits," he said. "When you lose that layer of social interaction, there's no judgment."
Since more and more industries are moving their business online and doing away with human interaction, McDevitt says across the board we'll all be buying more. That may be good for businesses but may pose issues for consumers who always order that extra bacon.
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