Fast fashion retailer Shein has been dubbed the “most manipulative” fashion website for its tactics to entice customers to make purchases.
Countdown timers, exclusive subscriber discounts, trending stickers and “you might also like” all feature heavily on Shein’s websites. Rogue Media has dubbed the budget fashion brand the worst offender for so-called ‘dark patterns’.
Andy Woods, design director at Rouge Media said the tactics meant consumers were sucked into “a never-ending loop of buy, wear, throw.”
Shoppers face at eight different prompts to spend more money or give over personal data in exchange for discounts or a personalised experience.
Missguided, FashionNova and Zaful also frequently, according to the study of 30 top sites.
“Dark patterns are nothing new, but the sheer scale at which they’re now being used in online retail raises questions over the impact on young people who often rely on post-purchase payment services like Klarna to fund their shopping habits,” Woods added.
“While dark patterns certainly have their place in e-commerce web design, perhaps it’s time for the industry to take a step back and review their use.”
Travel platform Booking.com was told to end “manipulative techniques” by the European Commission in 2019. The website was chastised for time-limits on making bookings and misrepresenting discounts.
Shein has been criticised by garment workers’ rights groups for a lack of transparency about its supply chain.
While the Chinese-based company did finally publish its Modern Slavery statement on its website, it hasd yet to upload this to the UK governent’s registry of company statements.
What’s more, Labour Behind the Label’s campaign director Meg Lewis said the firm was “lagging far behind others” as it had not published a list of supply factories.
She added: “Transparency is a vital step to ensuring that supply chains are free from modern slavery. If brands don’t disclose where their clothes are made, or by whom, how can we know that they were not made in conditions of modern-slavery?”
An “ultra-fast fashion model” with frequent product drops “drives labour exploitation,” Lewis added.
“Suppliers have short lead-in times and quick turnaround times, which encourages sub-contracting. With dresses starting from £2.49 each, it is highly doubtful that the workers making Sheins clothes will be getting fair pay and decent work conditions.”
Shein was contacted for comment.