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How Apple Turns Shoppers Into Spending Zombies

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If you’re looking for new and better ways to save money shopping online, here’s one: Abandon your shopping cart. Apparently, online retailers see a cart abandonment rate of about 65%, and many are eager to lure those customers back.

Earlier this month, Reuters reported that several major brands including Home Depot (HD) and Best Buy (BBY) have started following up with customers who don’t purchase the items in their carts. In some cases, stores offer shoppers discounts or other perks to encourage them to purchase leftover items.

More traditional, offline retailers have experience encouraging customers to spend money too. And it’s not just pushy sales staff, in a lot of cases, the entire design of a store centers on tricking consumers into spending more money.

The classic example of this is the Apple Store (AAPL). Cupertino company policy has all of a store’s laptop screens set at the same 70-degree angle. Not only does this look good, it also forces customers to touch the computers to get a good view of their screens.

In general, Apple’s store policy focuses on getting customers to interact physically with their products. That’s why the leaders of the store’s workshops have customers solve problems themselves, instead of showing them how to do something.

Other retailers employ similar tools. For example, the doors in men’s dressing rooms are especially high to make customers feel powerful.

Many shops place really expensive items next to slightly cheaper, though still unaffordable, products in the hope of tricking customers into thinking they’re spending less. And, in case you haven’t noticed, grocery stores place dessert items at the entrances of many aisles in hopes of upping junk food purchases.

Of course, many brands efforts to capture customers are moving online. Recently, a number of retailers reported great success using Facebook’s (FB) free online features to market their products.

Unlike Google (GOOG), which has been very successful selling online ads, Facebook has struggled to convince observers that it can help them move product. Unfortunately, it looks like the quality of some of its free features is starting to work against it.

(See also: Apple Has Never Been More Lame)
POSITION:  No positions in stocks mentioned.