Dark patterns

How manipulating data results in negative customer experience

Supermarkets. They do love a good old price match. Data, typically used from the mysupermarket platform is used in realtime at the checkout for both store and online baskets.

The checkout operators tell you with proudness that your shop today was £x cheaper than that of rivals. But how was this calculated and had they employed dark patterns to game the system in their favour? I set about visiting three different supermarkets on the same day, with different mixed baskets, not to price compare to but compare the experience.

All three culprits claimed to have a cheaper shop. All with their complex rules of minimum number of items, spend, branded products and how by any chance you would get compensated.

Tesco with it’s Brand Guarantee sets out to redeem any different right there and then at the point of sale. Nice. No coupons or faffing around for future shops whether in-store or online. But how had they calculated this?



Exposing the data truth

To generate the savings fee a procedure had compared the prices and generated the saving. And pretty darn quickly too. Instead of the black comparison box, where the truthfulness can be questioned, why not mark the individual items on the receipt as to which had generated the savings? A simple asterisk would suffice.


Never mind checkout, a more joined-up experience

Supermarkets love to trick us. Offers, continual discounts whilst upping the prices elsewhere. We know their game. If they continue to lower their prices when will everything be £0.00? They can help customers at the point-of-sale by including this brand match data inline on the product list page (PLP) as a badge or secondary state and as a eInk shelf barker in-store.

The price data comparison service is a useful tool, but used in a post service design period results in loss of trust and ultimately a negative customer experience. The question is, which brand will have the transparency to move and expose this data at the during period or even the boldness to alert customers via CRM during the pre period so products they frequently purchase before they shop are known to them.

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