The Internet increases impulse buying

Bookmark and Share

A book is a typical impulse buy online. Impulse buys in Internet shops create order increases by adding: more of a specific product, products that complement that product, or products totally unrelated to it. Online, too, consumers' personal interests direct their impulse buys towards specific product groups, and they often choose a familiar Internet shop for their impulse buys.

Internet shops have numerous features that encourage impulse buying. An Internet shop is always close to hand and easily accessible. It is in a place where people are already enjoying themselves. Buying online is easy and straightforward. A wide range of products online does not induce stress, but tends to encourage impulse buys. Online buying also involves a double gratification: it is combined with waiting for the product, like a child waiting for presents at Christmas.

A good Internet shop has customer recommendations and suggests products that match the consumer's interests. The desire to make impulse buys can also arise in the online world outside of Internet shops, such as in response to banner adverts, friends' recommendations, or online discussions.


  • Nina Mesiranta, PhD, is a 32-year-old researcher at Tampere Business School.
  • Expertise: Internet shopping, consumer behaviour and impulse buying.
  • Doctorate, 2009, on consumer online
    impulsive buying. 
  • Currently studying the future of online
    specialist shops.

Thanks to Print-on-Demand and digital distribution of books, books can be kept on sale online without additional costs, including titles with few buyers. Print-on-Demand and e-books support a long tail, i.e. exploiting out-of-print books and niche markets, as impulse buys, too.