Digital Nudges for Sustainable Online Shopping

The impact of digital nudges on sustainable purchasing decisions.

Today, shoppers often find themselves overwhelmed when trying to make buying choices. The sheer amount of products and information available can cause what's known as choice overload. Moreover, the present economic scenario with high inflation rates urges many to focus on the price. Simultaneously, a growing awareness about sustainability has led many to prefer eco-friendly products. In fact, 62% are ready to alter their shopping habits to lessen environmental damage, but only 31% have managed to mostly buy sustainable items recently. The higher prices of green products remain a major hurdle, with 53% of US shoppers finding them too pricey.

Now, online sellers are adopting numerous tactics to ease the buying process while also boosting their earnings. For instance, Amazon has a feature called "Amazon's Choice" to highlight certain products, making it simpler for buyers to decide. Moreover, various online platforms offer filters and sorting features to help narrow down choices. Observing the rising demand for sustainable goods, many online stores like Booking, Zalando, and Nordstorm now have a 'sustainability' filter. Aside from these, the initial display order of products and sponsored content can also sway buying decisions.

The exact effect of these design strategies is tough to gauge, yet crucial for both sellers and buyers to understand. This project intends to explore how different design features of product presentation such as filters, sorting, and sponsored content impact shopper's choices around sustainable products. The goal is to aid online stores in better showcasing their goods and help shoppers understand how product presentation may influence, or even manipulate, their decisions. This understanding is also vital for society at large, fostering informed discussions around the daily buying decisions we all make.

Quick Facts

  • Shoppers awareness about sustainability increases but often isn’t reflected by their shopping behavior.

  • Online sellers employ various measures such as recommended products, filters, or sorting to simplify the buying process to support shoppers’ decisions.

  • This project aims to understand how such design features impact shoppers' decisions regarding sustainable products.

Project team


Dr. Carolin Kaiser

Head of Artificial Intelligence

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