Fast-fashion retailer Shein has been dubbed the “most manipulative” fashion website for its tactics to entice customers into shopping.
Countdown timer, exclusive follower discounts, trending stickers, and “you might also like” all feature prominently on Shein’s websites. Rogue Media called the economy fashion brand the worst offender for so-called “dark patterns”.
Andy Woods, director of design at Rogue Media, said the tactic meant consumers were dragged into “an endless loop of buying, wearing out, launching.”
Shein shoppers face eight different prompts to spend more money or give away personal data in exchange for discounts or a personalized experience.
Missguided, FashionNova and Zaful also frequently use such tactics, according to the study of Top 30 Sites.
“Dark models are nothing new, but the scale at which they are now used in online retailing raises questions about the impact on young people who often rely on post-purchase payment services like Klarna to fund. their buying habits, ”added Woods. .
“While dark patterns certainly have a place in ecommerce website design, perhaps it is time for the industry to take a step back and revisit their use. “
Travel platform Booking.com was ordered to end “manipulation techniques” by the European Commission in 2019. The website has been reprimanded for booking delays and misrepresenting discounts.
Brett Jacobson, CEO and founder of digital marketing agency Mediaworks, said Shein appeared to be adopting the methods many online retailers use “to the limit of what’s acceptable – and maybe above” .
He added, “Digital consumers are smart. They know there is a trade-off to receiving the items they want quickly and cost effectively and what they often agree to return is personal information and access. Knowing when it’s enough is a thin line Shein seems to have passed. “
Shein has been criticized by garment workers’ rights groups for her lack of transparency regarding her supply chain.
While the China-based company has finally released its modern slavery statement on its website, it has yet to upload that statement to the UK government’s corporate register of statements.
In addition, Labor Behind the Label campaign manager Meg Lewis said the company was “far behind the rest” because it had not published a list of sourcing factories.
She added: “Transparency is a vital step in ensuring that supply chains are free from modern slavery. If brands don’t disclose where their clothes are made, or by whom, how do we know they weren’t made under conditions of modern slavery? “
A “super-fast fashion model” with frequent product drops “spurs labor exploitation,” Lewis added.
“Suppliers have tight deadlines and deadlines, which encourages outsourcing. With dresses starting at £ 2.49 each, workers making Sheins clothes are highly unlikely to get a fair wage and decent working conditions. “
Shein has been contacted for comment.