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Are You Addicted to the Cocaine of e-commerce?

Ask your doctor how to stay healthy, and (hopefully) the response will be, “eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables and take regular exercise.” But despite what’s common-sense to most of us, the rush of cocaine is just too alluring for some. The instant-high of good exercise is a much healthier way of getting gratification, but too much like hard work for others.

And before long, the online marketer looking for a cash-flow- quick-fix will discover the cocaine of e-commerce; discounting and sales.

Here’s the thing, it’s so easy for the e-commerce store owner to snort a little discounting and sale cocaine and then get all prickly about it: “How can this not be good for me? We’ve done so well!”

But just as any addict never gives his health a second thought, the e-commerce store owner who’s addicted to slashing prices hasn’t stopped to consider their business health.

The first snort of cocaine makes them feel invincible... so does the next one, and the next.

But it takes bigger and bigger doses to get the same effect.

An impromptu 20% off sale may have seemed harmless at the time, but now 50% has become the norm. The business profits are being undermined.

Now don’t get me wrong, running a sale is a great way to create urgency, especially when you can tie it into a genuine reason why. Of course, end of

Of course, end of season and holiday sales are all great at driving extra orders to clear stock or take advantage of people being in the buying mood.

But what you don’t want to do is to train your customers that the next sale is only just around the corner - so they hold-off on buying from you until your next “flash sale.”

Be warned - this is a dangerous spiral and one that there’s no rehab for if you become addicted.

Your margins will be eroded and your customers will always expect to buy at a heavy discount.

This addiction is the plight of big-ticket retailers in the home furnishings industry.

As an example, UK based sofa/couch retailers, SCS are stuck in a permanent sale with no end date in sight. What’s worse is that there’s no urgency to their offer.

 

UK sofa/couch retailer, SCS has an incurable discount addiction. They’re stuck in a vicious circle of heavy discounting with no end in sight.

 

This tragic addiction makes retailers that fall into this trap incredibly sensitive to any downturn in the economy—simply because they’re relying on high volume sales to survive on emaciated margins.

For this reason, several long-established, nationwide home furnishing retailers have gone to the wall in the past few years.

How to Create Urgency Without Damaging Your Long Term Profits

Thankfully, clever technology is on our side when it comes to creating genuine urgency for e-commerce.

For example, shelving retailer, BigDug.co.uk display a simple countdown timer in their header to encourage visitors to checkout in time to qualify for next day delivery.

 

 

 

How to Leverage “FOMO” to Increase Your Sales

 “FOMO” or the “fear of missing out” can often be more persuasive than the benefit of a potential gain.

 

According to Dr. Robert Cialdini, the Godfather of persuasion psychology, shopper perceive opportunities to be more valuable when there’s a risk that they will become unavailable.

Or in other words, the fear of loss is a much stronger motivation than the desire to gain.

Because of this, it’s a good idea to not only communicate the benefits of your product, but also inject an element of scarcity into your sales copy.

Covering both of these persuasion principles is a surefire way to increase your e-commerce store’s conversion rate.

Here’s a great example of how to put this principal to work for you - Look.com do a slick job of this with a simple hover-over. Users are told to hurry when stock levels are low for the size they are after.

 

 

 

Combining Social Proof and Scarcity To Boost Your Conversions

It gets even better when you’re able to demonstrate that other people have recently bought from you or might be about to buy from you.

For example, antiques and collectibles site, RubyLane.com cleverly use this principal to layer scarcity upon scarcity.

 

Their products are rare or unique by nature and then they tell you how many other people have the item that you’re viewing in their cart or on their wish list.

Let’s face it, this method of using scarcity and combining it with social proof is an incredibly powerful persuasion factor. This is because, according to Cialdini, people decide what’s appropriate for them to do in a situation - based on what others are doing.

 

 

Here’s another way of doing it, Kogan.com show you the number of page views that the item you’re viewing has had in the last 24 hours. This creates the sense that you’re not the only one thinking about buying the product.

(I think it would be an interesting split-test to see which would be more believable - quoting the actual number vs. the rounded-up figures they’re currently using. From experience specificity always wins!)

Here’s another way of doing it, Kogan.com show you the number of page views that the item you’re viewing has had in the last 24 hours. This creates the sense that you’re not the only one thinking about buying the product.

(I think it would be an interesting split-test to see which would be more believable - quoting the actual number vs. the rounded-up figures they’re currently using. From experience specificity always wins!)

 

 

In addition, if you have a product that’s at an incredibly low price or that’s in huge demand, using a “per customer limit” can amp-up desire and urgency. TigerDirect.com do this with their popular gadgets and technology products.

 

 

How to Offer Discounts Without Training Your Customers to Expect It

Do you remember when I said that there was no rehab for e-commerce stores that are in a permanent sale?

Good.

Well, what if there was a way to tip the balance for shoppers that are undecided by offering them—and only them—a one-time only discount? You’ve already paid for them to find your site and if you lose them - they’re likely gone forever, right? So, wouldn’t it makes sense to offer them a discount to try and close the sale?

Here’s an inventive discounting and scarcity tactic used by SeattleCoffeeGear.com. They
prompt shoppers with a money-off coupon that’s redeemable during their current visit only.

 

 

But this method still falls down by creating discounting expectations for shoppers.

The pop-up offer was triggered after only a few seconds on the site, so without reading the small print, it would be easy to assume there was no urgency to the offer.

So what’s the best way to nudge reluctant shoppers and turn them into paying customers?

It’s a known psychological fact that the fear of losing something is far more motivating than the prospect of gaining something. If you’re product is only available for a limited time or you have a special offer that ends soon, it’s a fantastic leverage tool to get people to act now.

The Shoptimized Theme lets you simply add a tag to whichever products you want to display a countdown timer for. Choose the number of days or hours that the timer will count down from. It even automatically resets when it reaches zero. This means you can set it and forget it.

 

 

This way, only indecisive shoppers get the discount which means your profits can only increase.

About the author


Bradley Long is a conversion rate optimization expert and founder of Shoptimized Bradley specializes in helping e-commerce stores increase their sales and profits using CRO and sales funnel automation.

To find about how Shoptimized can help you claw back more of your lost profits go here.