Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Working Papers,
Lund University, Department of Economics

No 2017:15: Self-Scanning and Self-Control: A Field Experiment on Real-Time Feedback and Shopping Behavior

Natalia Montinari (), Emma Runnemark and Erik Wengström ()
Additional contact information
Natalia Montinari: Department of Economics, Bologna University, Italy
Emma Runnemark: Department of Economics, Lund University
Erik Wengström: Department of Economics, Lund University, Postal: Department of Economics, School of Economics and Management, Lund University, Box 7082, S-220 07 Lund, Sweden

Abstract: Payment and checkout at retail stores is increasingly being replaced by automated systems. One recent technological invention in this area is mobile self-scanning in which customers carry a mobile scanner while shopping. Mobile self-scanners give real-time feedback on spending. The device increases price saliency and enables customers to keep track of the total amount spent. Using a field experiment, we test if mobile self-scanning affects shopping behavior. Consumers of two grocery stores were allocated randomly to use a mobile self-scanner or not. Overall, we find that using the self-scanner has a negative but insignificant effect on total amount spent. However, the response to using the scanner is heterogeneous and for customers with low self-control, it significantly reduces both their spending and number of items bought when using the mobile scanner. Moreover, we find that consumers with low self-control are more likely to use the self-scanner than individuals with high self-control. Taken together, our results suggest that sophisticated individuals, that is, individuals who are aware of their self-control problem, use the scanner to control their spending.

Keywords: Self-scanning; Self-control; Shopping Behavior; Real-time Feedback; Field Experiment

JEL-codes: D01; D12; M30

23 pages, November 28, 2017

Note: Appendix available online

Full text files

wp17_15.pdf PDF-file 
wp17_15_appendix.pdf PDF-file Appendix

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