Personal Finance

Beyond April fools: How retailers get your money

Spending more than you bargained for?

Hero Images | Getty Images

Consumers will spend a record amount shopping online this year, thanks, in part, to some clever moves retailers use to get you to buy more.

Online shoppers in the United States are expected to spend about $373 billion in 2016, up from $338 billion in 2015, according to Forrester Research. That translates to an online average of $1,963 each, up from $1,820 the year earlier.

Read MoreAmerica's biggest money mistakes are ...

In some ways, online shopping presents even more overspending and impulse purchase pitfalls than brick-and-mortar shopping, said Benjamin Glaser, the features editor for DealNews.

Here are just some of the smart, but sneaky ways retailers entice you into spending more:

By CNBC's Jessica Dickler

Ads displaying item you once looked at

4FR | Getty Images

Unless your browsing history is private, retailers can follow you even after you leave their site. "Resist the urge to click on those ads, and instead sign up for price alerts to find out when those items will really be a good buy," Glaser said.

That way if you do decide to pull the trigger, you will get the best offer available, not just the discounted price advertised in the ad.

Liking them on Facebook

The Facebook "Like" sign outside headquarters in Menlo Park, California.
Stephen Lam | Getty Images

Usually, connecting with retailers and brands through email and social media is a good way to engage with the stores you like best and get coupon codes and early notifications of sales. Be sure you use these perks to aid your budget, and not the other way around.

"Getting messages every day can wear down your willpower and mislead you into bad purchases," Glaser said.

Finding add-ons in your cart

Gregor Schuster | Getty Images

When checking out online, examine your order carefully before clicking "buy." Make sure the retailer hasn't added any optional, unnecessary coverage or insurance charges, not to mention add-on purchases, Glaser said.

For example, merchants shipping from another country, like China, usually add a small fee for shipping insurance. "It's optional but is automatically selected unless you deselect it," Glaser said.

Logging in

Laurence Dutton | The Image Bank | Getty Images

While logging in to a retailer's site gives you a more personalized shopping experience and the convenience of a speedy checkout, allowing a retailer to access your preferences is primarily a way for them to get you to spend more and lure you back if you leave items in your cart.

In fact, logged-in users spend 10 percent more per order, on average, according to a recent report by Moovweb, a mobile software provider. So consider the guest check out instead. It may be more of a hassle to run through the extra steps but it may save you money in the long run.

Trickery or targeting?

Shan Shui | Photographer's Choice RF | Getty Images

"I don't think anyone is really tricking anyone," said Brian Hoyt, vice president of communications at coupon-sharing site RetailMeNot. These types of promotions and attempts on the part of the retailer to engage with the consumer are much more highly sophisticated ways of targeting, he said.

"This is basically trying to find the right deals for the right customers so the retailer doesn't waste your time — and that's good for everybody," Hoyt said.