Shein has been dubbed the “most manipulative” fashion website, according to research by Rouge Media.
The fast fashion retailer features various “dark patterns” on its website, including time-limited countdowns, exclusive subscriber discounts, trending stickers and prompts to spend more to get a free gift or delivery.
Other retailers such as FashionNova and Missguided also employ such tactics, but Shein has been branded the worst offender.
Shein shoppers are faced with eight different instances of dark patterns as they navigate the site and end at the checkout.
The news comes as Shein has been criticised by garment workers rights groups for its lack of transparency about its supply chain.
Despite such controversies, the retailer recently became the world’s largest online-only fashion company.
“It’s been really interesting to dive deep into the world of fast fashion to uncover how clever marketing and design techniques are being used to suck consumers into a never-ending loop of buy, wear, throw,” Rouge Media design director Andy Woods said.
“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.
“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.”
Charged has contacted Shein for comment.