Adding Urgency to Your Ecommerce Store

Urgency is one of the best persuasion levers you can pull on any website. But it's especially effective on eCommerce stores, because of the nature of selling real goods online.

We've all been through it – a celebratory occasion (Thanksgiving, birthday, Christmas, or New Year) is around the corner and you haven’t bought a gift for a loved one because you have been too busy lately.

Not having the time to go to a mall, you start browsing the internet, hoping that you would find something that would be delivered immediately. And then you see it gleaming on a website – Haven’t Bought A Birthday Gift for A Loved One? Order Now for On-time Delivery!

What would you do? If you are like most people, you would immediately place an order, fearing that you would miss this last chance to get on-time delivery if you delay it even further.

The pressure of placing an order instantly in such a scenario is due to a marketing tactic called ‘urgency’!

Another very good example of it that we all can relate to is when there’s an online sale on one of your favorite brands. Most of us want to place an order as soon as possible because we don’t want to see that ‘out of stock’ label on our desired products. This is an example of a business creating urgency by using the principle of ‘scarcity’.

Urgency, often used along with scarcity, is one of the most widely used marketing tactics in the digital world and is known as proven ways of increasing engagement and the conversion rate.

But, will it work for your business? You need to find out before you implement this strategy on your ecommerce store. And the best way of determining if a change on your website is worth making or not is through A/B testing.

Before we delve into the details of A/B testing urgency to your ecommerce store, let’s first discuss what urgency really is!

What is Urgency in Ecommerce?

If you've been in the ecommerce industry for any length of time you must be at least aware of the concept (even if you are not using it). But let’s discuss it a bit if in case it's a concept that's new to you.

Urgency is the feeling of unease or the fear of missing out (FOMO) due to perceived scarcity of a desired item.

It is this very feeling that pushes or motivates shoppers to act immediately and make a purchase.

From a marketer’s or a business owner’s point of view, creating urgency is the process of instilling the desire to make a purchase, immediately, in potential customers.

One of the oldest tricks in the playbook of digital marketers, urgency works on the theory of loss aversion and helps businesses experience a sudden significant boom in their conversions and sales.

How Does Urgency Work? The Psychology behind Urgency 

As mentioned above, the principle or tactic of urgency works by creating fear among your audience – the fear of missing out (FOMO).

It is this fear that pushes them to act fast, which in this case is making a purchase.

Sometimes, you need to push your audience to act; to take your desired action. Adding urgency on your ecommerce store gives just that push to your potential customers who have identified needs and are ready to make a purchase, but not doing it for any reason. This can typically be done either by telling them about the scarcity of the products or by offering incentives for a limited time period.

With phrases like ‘limited time sale’, ‘buy now to get free shipping’, ‘only 4 hours left before the offer expires’, ‘only 2 left in stock’ and several other similar ones, you push customers to not waste their time in thinking and buy now or they would miss out a product or would have to pay more for it. And research has shown that people generally fear losses more than they desire gains.

And that's the crux of everything.

Let me repeat this: people generally fear losses more than they desire gains.

In addition to creating FOMO, telling your customers about the limited quantity of a product also works somewhat like social proof.

It implies that it is a popular item and has been in-demand and we all know how much value shoppers give to other customer’s opinions and reviews about a brand or a product.

In his national bestseller Influence – The Psychology of Persuasion, Robert B. Cialdini aptly put this concept into words.

Opportunities seem more valuable to us when their availability is limited,” he said.

Why Should You A/B Test Adding Urgency to Your Ecommerce Website?

The shortest answer to this question is – to find out if the strategy works for your business and figure out the best way(s) to implement it.

While urgency has long been known and used by entrepreneurs and marketers to encourage action from customers, there’s a science and art to creating and executing it effectively. You want to make sure you are adding the urgency markers on the right webpages, at the right place, and at the right time.  

A/B testing ensures that the strategy you have created and the implementation approach you are using doesn’t fall flat – hits the right chord with your audience and brings the desired results.  

This is what Jim Rohn, the renowned American entrepreneur who’s also considered as a foremost business philosopher, says about it:

A/B Testing Ideas for Adding Urgency

Building and testing urgency onto your ecommerce store isn’t a complicated process, but it can benefit your ecommerce store in more ways than you can think.  To get you started, here are a few A/B testing ideas for creating urgency on your ecommerce store:  

Highlight the End Date of an Offer

This is a no-brainer!

Highlighting the end date of an incentive evokes a powerful sense of urgency and the fear of missing out.


One of the key reasons sales almost always generate the desired results is that the discounted offers are available only for a limited time. This, when coupled with the fear that their desired products might run out of stock (see below) even before the end date, makes customers act fast.

You can test this on your email campaigns, exit intent boxes and product detail pages.

Test Adding a Countdown Timer

An extension of the first one, but more effective, adding a timer on your website alongside a promo/ sale/ offer message, on the landing and/or homepage, builds real-time urgency. The tactic often works better than many offer-related displays on the product pages.

The ticking clock continuously reminds customers that they are losing time quickly and need to act fast to avail the offer. It helps businesses improve conversions by encouraging on-the-spot decision making in customers.

Display Stock Levels or Highlight Fast-Selling Products

Adding terms and phrases like ‘selling fast’ or ‘very few left in stock’ on the category or product pages is another known way to add urgency on your website. For even better results i.e. for creating an even greater sense of urgency, try adding this information to your products during a sale.

The information doesn’t act like a distraction. Instead, it gives customers the additional push or extra motivation to make the purchase.

In case you decide to restock a particular item, you can use alerts like ‘back on popular demand’, ‘restocked on popular demand’, or ‘best seller – new stock just in!’ to make sure customers don’t get the impression that you were earlier trying to deceive them.

Show What Others Are Looking At or Buying

In addition to encouraging customers to act fast by building the risk of losing their desired items, this also (kind-of) works like social proof.

If several people are checking out an item or it has been bought several times within, let’s say, the past few hours or a day, it shows that the item is popular and in high-demand.

This also leads to customers believing in the product’s high-quality or usefulness.

Offer Quick/Free Shipping for Purchases Made Within a Specific Time Period

Shipping time and cost are among the key factors that impact ecommerce sales. Use them to your advantage by offering quick or free shipping for purchases made within a specific period of time.

A couple of ways to test this urgency feature is by offering free shipping with sales purchases or by offering same-day or next-day delivery for promotional offers or purchases made within a specific time period, like Amazon.

A quick delivery option also works great during festive/holiday seasons and attracts a large number of customers.

Since shipping is one of the key factors that contribute to the buying decision (it is also a major factor behind shopping cart abandonment), using this tactic is likely to influence the buying decision of a large number of customers.  

Offer Limited-Edition Products

Put yourself in customers’ shoes and think of how you get attracted to special assorted chocolates, fragrances, or scented candles that companies offer during special times of the year, such as in fall and around Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Years.

Another great example of how limited-edition products increase sales is when companies collaborate with celebrities and come up with a product either in a limited quantity or for a limited time.

A/B Testing Adding Urgency to Your Store – Examples

To help you understand the importance of A/B testing adding urgency to an ecommerce store, here are a few successful examples where businesses experienced increased sales by building urgency on their websites:

Best of the Best (BOTB)

A UK-based company that conducts bi-weekly competitions to give its visitors a chance to win several prizes, including a dream car, experienced a 5% increase in conversions just by adding a countdown timer three days before the competition.


The digital marketing company increased its sales by a whopping 332% by offering a limited time (100 hours) deal and clearly displaying the details on the website banner. The banner not only shows what the deal included, but also highlighted how much discount the customers are going to get and a countdown clock.

There you have it – all the essential information you need for A/B testing adding urgency and scarcity on your ecommerce website to increase your conversions and sales.

Try them out and let me know how you benefit from them!

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