Remember the time when the teachers at school asked you to complete your notebooks by ‘tomorrow’ or they won’t mark you well? And the time when you were on a winter break, had lots of homework, yet decided to enjoy till the last week?

We humans are procrastinators – we like to wait until the end or have a deadline enforced on us to get things moving. And that’s the exact same behavior of online shoppers. When you give your shoppers time to think, they’ll delay making purchases. Sometimes the delay is so long, that they forget about the product and the offer altogether!

We’re pretty sure you don’t want this happening to your business. And a very effective way of stopping this is by creating a sense of urgency in your target audience.

Here are a few ways to implement the ‘sense of urgency’ to increase ecommerce sales right away:

1. Set a deadline for all your discounts

Almost all ecommerce websites offer discounts to allure customers and encourage a sale. But if the discount runs indefinitely, your customers start to think that the products will always be at that price. To avoid creating this misunderstanding, set a deadline for all your discounts.

Amazon uses a real-time countdown below their deals to create a sense of urgency for each one of them:

amazon sets deadlines on discounts

In fact, right below the running deals they have a section that displays upcoming and missed deals; the latter with a count of how many people availed the offer:

Amazons upcoming and missed deals

2. Run daily deals

Daily deals are an extreme variation of setting a deadline on your offers. Also known as flash deals, they run only for 24 hours at an extremely special price! A common practice followed by ecommerce businesses to boost their conversions at least once a month.

Here’s Snapdeal offering ‘deals of the day’ from different categories of their products:

offer daily deals

3. Create a sense of scarcity

Another way to encourage instant purchases is to put a limit on the number of products that are up for sale. A simple line below the description reading ‘only x units left’ not only lets the shopper know that there are limited pieces available, but also shows that a lot many people are interested in it. A bold ‘out of stock’ when the number ends is also a good way to ask people to keep a tab on the purchases next time!

Here’s how FreeKaaMaal – a shopping and online deals website used this technique to create an urgency around their iPad sales:

create sense of scarcity

4. Create custom offers based on customer actions

Personalise your visitors experience by varying the discounts and offers based on their on-site activity. This not only impresses the customer when it comes to a business understanding their needs, but also helps reinforce the sense of urgency.

Forever 21 uses a floating offer that comes up on the screen only when you choose to shop from their ‘sale’ section:

create custom offers

5. Promote the sales deadline on your homepage

To ensure that your customers know that the sale is time limited, feature the discount and the deadline on the home page itself. This practice stimulates customer interest and urgency in the highlighted product.

Koovs makes sure their customers know about the offer they are running and the deadline set on it by choosing a colour that stands out from the rest of their website:

promote sales on homepage

6. Make free shipping time-limited

A common ecommerce business practice is to add the shipping costs to the product price during checkout. This sometimes results in the customer thinking it would be too high as compared to the value of the product. So tempt your customers by advertising ‘free shipping’ for a ‘limited period’. Just to save on shipping costs, you will see a lot of your visitors completing their purchases.

Here’s how Utsav Fashion made use of this technique:

make free shipping limited

7. Reinforce urgency on the cart page

Customers don’t realise the total cost of their purchases until they see the final list of items in their shopping cart. This is the time when the streamlining happens – they start removing items from the cart to bring down the total expense to something they find ‘affordable’. Remind them of the discount and the quantity of the product in stock right below the description to make it sound like a ‘can’t miss deal’.

urgency on cart page

8. Use exit overlays to remind them of offers

More often than not, visitors just click through a few items and leave the website without making any purchase. Or they add items to the cart and abandon it thinking they could come back and complete the transaction. To hold back your abandoning customers, use exit overlays to remind them of the time-limited offer. This brings back their attention to what you’re offering and why they should complete the purchase right away.

Snatch.gr uses an exit overlay to offer a 5% discount to the visitors who are abandoning their website from the checkout process:

offer by snatch

9. Use a constant floating bar to promote the offer

When you keep seeing something for a while, you tend to go check it out. Reminding your customer of an offer over and over again might spoil their browsing experience. Use a constant floating bar to promote the offer throughout the website.

Forever 21 uses a black floating bar right at the top of their website to constantly remind their visitors of the ‘up to 50%’ offer they’re running on winter wear:

constant floating bar

10. Tag products that have gone out of stock

As soon as one of your products go out of stock, don’t forget to tag them in a bold manner. Admitting that you have gone out of stock in a particular product range is a subtle way of generating a sense of urgency. When shoppers see that a few products are sold out, they are urged to take a look at the remaining and complete the purchases of those they are interested in.

Here’s Flipkart showing one of its perfumes on sale as ‘out of stock’:

show out of stock products

11. Highlight the last product left

Just like the ‘out of stock’ tag motivates the shoppers to buy other products, a ‘last one left’ tag is a great way to nudge them to buy that particular product. It is a drastic version of saying that the offer is valid only till stocks last.

highlight last piece

12. Showcase the product’s demand

Another subtle way to imply that the offer is valid only till the product is in stock, is without actually saying so. You can simply show the number of times the product has been viewed in the last few hours right next to the ‘buy now’ call-to-action. This creates an urgency with the feeling that they aren’t the only ones interested in the product.

Here’s Booking.com showcasing their popular destinations, their reviews and the recently booked packages right on their home page:

showcase product demand

13. Send them email reminders

Emails are the most effective way to reach out to your customers and prospects – directly. To back up the offer you’re making on your website and social media, create an email campaign to notify them of the limited-time promotions that are going on.

Here’s Groupon reminding their customers of the Turducken Sale:

send email reminders

And lastly, a technique that will have them coming back for more purchases..

14. Offer loyalty points for purchases

Offer loyalty points every time a customer completes a purchase. Let them avail those points in their next purchase – during the sale period or regular days. While this might not help create a sense of urgency, it will help you build a loyal customer community – those who keep coming back to your site after their initial purchase.

Chumbak offers loyalty points on all their product purchases, even during the ‘sale’ period:

offer loyalty points

Over to you

What’s the one technique you have been using to create a sense of urgency on your ecommerce website?

We’re always wanting to learn new hacks. So feel free to drop a comment in the box below!


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Vanhishikha Bhargava

Content Marketer at Exit Bee. Most of the times found trying to create compelling copies for blogs and digital campaigns, keeping a watch on what's happening on social media or ranting on Twitter. At all other times, not found.

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