While Supplies Last: 3 Methods to Create Urgency and Scarcity on Your Store

Jaap Vergote

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Jaap Vergote

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January 23, 2023

Shopper psychology is a tool you can use to drive more sales on your online store. Some proven methods used by the giants in online commerce like Amazon, Walmart and Expedia are scarcity and urgency. These are two psychological tactics you can use to grow your business.

What are scarcity and urgency?

Scarcity is when the shopper feels there is a limited amount of a certain product available. This makes the customer pay attention and take action quicker. The product might be gone soon, and they have a chance to buy one right now.

Here’s an example of Booking.com using scarcity to entice visitors to book a room.

expedia scarcity and urgency

Urgency is when the customer is urged to make a decision by limiting the time they have to do so. This is usually done with a timer or message that says ‘this order has been reserved for the next 5 minutes!’ It motivates the customers to not delay to purchase and take immediate action.

Here’s an example of how Amazon uses urgency to motivate shoppers to complete the checkout. They show when you will receive the item if you order before a specific time.

amazon urgency

How to create a ‘while supplies last’ and ‘limited quantities available’ effect

We discussed what urgency and scarcity can do for your store. If you’re using Shopify or Shopify Plus, there are a couple of ways to implement this for your customers. 

1. Add urgency with a checkout countdown timer

Add a countdown timer to the checkout page to urge customers to complete the checkout they’ve started. We don’t want to overwhelm customers, so ideally this timer is shown only once. 

Here’s an example of a leading Shopify Plus brand, Ekster, using this tactic well. Note they also offer checkout cross sells using UpsellPlus Checkout Smart Upsell offers.

ekster.com checkout timer to create urgency

This can be achieved by adding some custom code to the checkout.liquid file if you’re on Shopify Plus. If you’re not on Shopify Plus, you can add a similar timer to the cart.

2. Create urgency on the post-purchase page

You can instill similar urgency on the post-purchase page. This is the page you can enable and which shows immediately after the customer has completed their initial purchase.

This is a great way to grow AOV.

post purchase upsell countdown timer to create urgency

3. Add scarcity with a limited stock available counter

You can show a counter on the cart page using a simple Shopify app. This will show ‘Limited stock available’ or ‘While supplies last’ badges on the product pages.

This app seems like a great option.

Apply "Until Supplies Last" sales tactics with care

It’s important to keep in mind that customers still prioritize a pleasant shopping experience. They don’t want to be stressed. 'Until supplies last' is a powerful phrase, but should be used with the customer in mind.

These methods can help nudge shoppers in the right direction, but shouldn’t be abused to ‘push’ customers into buying. The more aggressive your sales tactics become, the more you’ll cater to a specific audience.

The value of a good product that is good value for money and a brand that resonates are still the core of doing good business.

How will you use the "While Supply Lasts" effect for your brand?

Do you have a product in mind that is already low in stock which you could highlight with a ‘until supplies last’ or ‘only 10 items left’ badge? Using scarcity and urgency, you can motivate your customers to complete a purchase or grow their cart total.

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