How to Use Scarcity and Urgency to Increase Sales

February 21, 2019 2:00 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

Most people will confidently assume that to increase sales, you’ll need to adjust your price points, improve product quality, spend more on marketing, or upgrade the user experience of your webstore.

That’s true, but not always the case. Sometimes, all you need is to employ simple yet powerful tactics that tap into consumer psychology.

Customers and prospects can be affected by many things, like colour, visuals, testimonials, and many more. They can then be influenced positively or negatively.

Aside from those factors, perhaps the most powerful among all is the trick of using scarcity and urgency.

Scarcity, urgency and how it motivates consumers

Scarcity can be any limitation placed on a product or service that puts pressure on the consumer. Psychologically speaking, scarcity generates a fear of missing out that causes people to make the decision to buy.

How does this idea translate to an e-commerce website? With two words and a number:

“Only 10 units left!”

Phrases like these can be a powerful psychological motivator because it shows that the product is popular and a lot of people have bought it. What’s more, there are only a few left, so they feel like it’s better to act quickly if they want to get one before they’re gone.

When a consumer sees that there are only a limited number of units left for purchase, they feel like they need to act quickly. That’s urgency. It’s the feeling that whatever is being sold is really important, and therefore, should be purchased immediately.

Just like scarcity, urgency can be created with a few simple words. For example:


  • Limited time only!
  • Orders must be placed within 24 hours.
  • Sale ends June 15th.
  • Use your discount code before the December 30th deadline!

These phrases impose a time restriction and an expiry date on the availability of a product. It’s a play on the concept of time being one of the scarcest and most valuable resources. Attaching a time limit to the purchase of a product or service can be a powerful motivation to get them to buy.


Put them together and what have you got?


To this point, we’ve considered scarcity and urgency separately. On their own, either can be a powerful tool to increase sales. But imagine the potential if you used them together.

Couple the phrase, “Sale ends June 15th.” with a counter that states, “Only 10 units left!” and you’ve got a recipe for sales success. You’ve just created both scarcity and a sense of urgency. You’ve hit the consumer with a psychological combination that can be very difficult to resist.

At a certain point in all businesses, sales (and their increase) becomes more about psychology than about business or economics. Scarcity and urgency are powerful psychological variables that you can use to good effect to drive traffic and increase sales. Use them wisely and good luck.

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This post was written by Nina