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Have you ever been in a situation where you weren’t planning on spending money but because of a limited time promotion, you end up doing so? I’m not trying to judge you or anything as I’m comfortable in admitting that I’ve been in situations like that more times than I can count. When push comes to shove, we tend to end up spending more money than we previously intend to. That’s just simply the nature of consumerism society we now live in and this is something that businesses can always take advantage of.

This decade has seen the popularity of flash sales and seasonal sales rocketed to a point that you can reasonably expect almost every single e-commerce platform out there engaging in these practices. It used to be that sales are when your judgments get thrown out of the window but since the sheer ubiquity of sales means that now you also have to play it smart during one. It’s now no longer enough to slash prices or using limited stocks, you always have go the extra mile when trying to use scarcity and urgency in e-commerce web development.


Applying pressure for conversions

Earlier this year, I broke my sunglasses during a beach excursion involving an ATV that went kinda wrong. In a month, I’ll be going on a trip and last week, I decided to pick up a new pair of sunglasses. It just so happens that this brand I’ve been particularly fond of is holding a flash sale so I asked a friend to help me pick out one because I’m hopelessly bad with this sort of thing. It turns out however that every purchase is awarded with a discount voucher equal to 40% of your spending that can be used for the next purchase. I spent $120 and I got a $48 voucher for my next purchase.

I don’t really need another sunglasses but a $48 voucher seems to good of a deal to pass up and since the voucher can only be used within a month of the original purchase, I decided to do the next best thing and this weekend, I’ll be getting a pair of non-prescription glasses. It should be noted here that I have perfectly good eyesight and I’ve never worn glasses in my entire life. And yet, completely on a whim, I’ve just decided to do exactly that. That, ladies and gentlemen, is how you use the principle of urgency to take advantage of what is known as an impulse purchase.

Just like a flash sale, that time limit on my discount voucher is what pushed me to make the impulse decision of getting a pair of non-prescription glasses. Had the voucher is available to use indefinitely; I probably would’ve waited until I broke this particular sunglasses before using the voucher. Whenever there’s a limit on time and/or stock, our financial judgments get thrown out of the window and this strategy translates pretty well into an e-commerce platform, assuming you’re considering the following 4 tips that is.


Using urgency and scarcity is good, abusing them is not

When you’re holding a sale, you have to make sure you’re abiding by the following requirements. You can’t simply put everything on sale and you certainly can’t put things on sale indefinitely. I’ve seen several e-commerce platforms abuse the concept of urgency and scarcity where products are always on sale and this attitude only serves to cheapen your brand. I’ve seen one particular brand where items have been listed on the same price since Christmas, which isn’t just ridiculous; it also takes the luster off of the price a little bit.

In another example, I was looking for a pair of new dry, selvage jeans to use as a project just two months ago and during my search, I came across a local boutique brand that takes advantage of scarcity really well. They’ve made it clear that the item is never going to be restocked and that the availability for each size is listed on the product page. When I was browsing, certain items were already low on stock, with many of the size options crossed out, which increases the scarcity even more.


Always be clear with the deadline

If you’re holding a limited time promotion, you want to make sure that the deadline for the promotion is clearly stated. If the deadline is less than 24 hours, as is typically the case with flash sales, including an actual countdown within the product page is a good idea. As has been repeatedly shown in Hollywood action flicks, there’s nothing like a ticking clock to provide a sense of urgency to the public. When using this tactic, you’re going to want to prepare your website for last minute traffic spikes as typically, that’s when people decided to pull the trigger.


Give member-only benefits

This is pretty common for concerts and event tickets. Before the tickets are sold to the public, members or subscribers are given the privilege of participating in a pre-sale event to secure their tickets but the tickets offered is usually very limited. Other than taking advantage of both urgency and scarcity, with the pre-sale event lasting only before the tickets are available to the public and only in limited amount, this strategy can help push people to subscribe to your newsletters, giving you an additional sales lead.


Hype yourself through social media and newsletters

Creating urgency and scarcity alone won’t be enough, you also want to create buzz around said urgency and scarcity by hyping yourself up through social media, newsletters and other channels. This is especially important for flash sales where the window of opportunity is relatively small. You want to make sure that by the time the clock hits zero, there are no more available stocks left, which would give additional incentive for interested parties to pay closer attention to your social media accounts for news on the next flash sale, creating even more hype for future unannounced sales.