scarcity marketing

9 Scarcity Marketing Examples to Boost eCommerce Conversions in 2020

8 Minute Read

Looking to incorporate scarcity marketing examples into your eCommerce site?

You know the old saying, people always want what they can’t have.

This is why incorporating scarcity marketing into your eCommerce strategy is so important.

Scarcity marketing encourages your visitors to make a purchase by reducing the window of opportunity that they have to buy. This gives you an advantage, because it influences your customers to act faster in their purchase decisions, and shows a level of demand and popularity surrounding your products. Plus, it’s great Social Proof.

In the human psyche, things are usually more desirable if they’re more difficult to obtain. If everybody else is so bothered about having a product, then it must be worth it, right?

Carhartt on ASOS - Scarcity Marketing Examples

Many eCommerce marketers are leveraging these areas, implementing certain scarcity marketing examples in order to boost sales and reduce cart abandonment.

A recent report explains that 60% of millennial shoppers make reactive purchases for the ‘fear of missing out’. An even more prevalent point if we consider the continuous rise in niche industries in today’s market.

Online retailers who introduce a sense of urgency are far more likely to provoke an emotional response with visitors, also shortening the decision making process of purchasing.

We only need to look at the commercial success of Black Friday to understand how effective introducing urgency marketing examples can be.

TUI -Black Friday - Scarcity Marketing Examples

This post will discuss 9 brilliant scarcity marketing examples that have proven to be successful for eCommerce sites.


1. Email Urgency

Email marketing remains one of the most effective ways to reach your audience. In fact, a recent report suggested that 49% of customers said they would like to receive promotional emails from their favourite brands on a weekly basis.

The issue with the over saturation of email marketing, is that inbox’s are now pretty overloaded. The majority of emails are never opened, let alone clicked-through.

With this in mind, it’s become more important to optimise every aspect of your email marketing campaign. Which is where these scarcity marketing examples can come into effective.

Email - Scarcity Marketing Examples

A great way to introduce scarcity marketing into your emails is through subject lines.

Try out subjects such as, ‘3 days left to grab something from our sale!’, or ‘last change to buy!’. If you’re able to leverage the ‘FOMO effect’ properly, you could be onto a winner.

Some people think it’s cheesy, but using lots of capitals, exclamation marks, emojis, images and GIFs can really catch your readers eye. These methods tend to provoke a sense of emotion, plus they’re fun and show personality.

Highlighting your offers or limited time-frame of availability is vital for your marketing emails. Don’t clog up your content with words that don’t relate to the value proposition; use the space effectively to drive your message across.


2. Free Shipping

If a shoppers shows interest in your brand, it can only take a small incentive to push them into making a purchase.

Thing get old pretty quickly in our society today. So whilst very convenient, paying for shipping costs can often be annoying. Which is why offering Free Shipping for a limited period can be a simple and cost-effective scarcity marketing example.

eCommerce Scarcity Marketing Examples

It’s a small favour that puts a cushion on the purchase decision. It was recently reported that offering free shipping can increase your average order value by as much as 30%. When run on a limited time frame, free shipping campaigns can deliver a notion of urgency amongst your audience.

Push this promotion out through your social media channels or email content. It’s a great convenience to your customers, at a small cost to you.


3. Countdown Timers

If there’s anything that frustrates us all, it’s running out of time.

Recent innovations in the eCommerce industry are leveraging this notion, strategically positioning countdown timers around sites as an effective scarcity marketing example.

A ticking clock can be great for grabbing the attention of your visitors.

Take eBay for example. One of the biggest brands in the world, this auction site has shaped it’s success around establishing scarcity amongst shoppers. Elements of gamification evoke an emotional response. What can often be a fairly bleak task is made a lot more enjoyable and entertaining.

eBay - Scarcity Marketing Examples

You can incorporate countdown timers into your eCommerce site to highlight:

  • Discount codes
  • End of a sale
  • Product launch
  • Delivery cut-off
  • Competition entry
  • Product availability

But as good as they are at driving urgency, they also play a functional role for your website users.

Giving off the idea that, if you don’t act not, you’ll miss the opportunity, is the main principle of incorporating these scarcity marketing examples.

Use countdown timers to show your inventory as always moving and always popular.


4. Limited-time offers

If you want to create a sense of exclusivity around a product, shorten the availability of it.

Many eCommerce brands are bringing limited and exclusive product ranges to the market today. This could be anything from limited edition to a collaboration with another brand.

These are great ways to diversify your brand image, bring fresh products to the market and tap into other niche audiences.

Some brands have even grown to establish their loyal audience by taking these scarcity marketing examples to the next level.

Supreme - Scarcity Marketing Examples

Take Supreme NY for example. This skateboarding brand release new stock each season. For a few weeks of each season, Supreme will release items every Thursday morning and rarely restock.

This isn’t to say that copying the Supreme model will work for you. But limiting your offering can often boost desirability.

This method of distribution has grown with it’s loyal fan base, with some of their exclusive items exceeding way past RRP. Their basic logo t-shirt which originally sells at around £40 can suddenly appear at heights of £1000 on the resale market. This limited form of distribution (along with other clever marketing tactics) has lead Supreme to holding an extremely loyal and exclusive group of buyers.

If done well, selling a limited release product can be a fantastic driving force of boosting awareness, traffic and sales.


5. Banners

Simple but effective, banners are one of the most traditional ways to introduce urgency to website visitors.

Easily optimised to grab attention, banners are great for promoting:

  • Sales
  • Discounts
  • Product launches
  • Competitions
  • Email sign-up
  • Newsletters
  • Events

Incorporating urgency into your banners isn’t a difficult task. Try things like, ‘Enter Nov20 at checkout for 20% off orders’ as an incentive for visitors to grab a good deal whilst they’re able to. Keep is short and snappy – make your visitors aware of the exclusive value you’re providing them.

Any cluttering will be difficult to digest and irritating for readers.

Boohoo - banners for scarcity marketing

Take a look at how Boohoo display 2 banners to alert visitors about their sale. See how they use language such as, ‘hurry ends soon!’ and ‘get it before it’s gone!’ to create the feeling of urgency amongst customers.

It’s typically good practice to use a few words mixed with a few numbers. It’s easy on the eyes and the benefit of the message is blatant.


6. Special edition products

Special edition products are a great scarcity marketing technique for online retailers. If you want to get consumers publicly speaking about your brand, come out with a fresh and innovative product.

A brilliant way to do this is through special edition products.

A great example of this can be seen in McDonald’s recent release of spicy chicken nuggets. These things popped-up a few months ago for a limited time only – and for a few weeks was one of the only things I saw scattered across my news feed. In fact, I don’t remember being introduced to spicy nuggets by McDonald’s, but by the strangers on my Instagram feed.

McDonald's spicy nuggets - scarcity marketing

When I eventually sampled some, I was quite disappointing to discover that it was simply a normal nugget with some cayenne dusted on top. But when I think about it, it didn’t really matter.

The fact is, I won’t stop eating McDonald’s as a result of this experience. And in reality, the spicy nuggets caused more of a debate by splitting public opinion.

People wanted to make their own minds up, so ran to their nearest retailer to grab a box before they stopped selling.


7. Display stock levels

If approached in the correct manor, displaying stock levels on your website can be lead to big boosts in conversions.

A similar concept to countdown timers, this form of scarcity marketing makes your customers fully aware when inventory is low. Knowing that stock is low can be the final incentive to finally pull the trigger on that purchase!

Nasty Gal - Banners for scarcity marketing

Because there is no guaranteed time of completion, inventory displays offer a feeling of the unknown. If an individual likes a product, the feeling of scarcity makes them far more likely to purchase. Messages like ‘there’s only 3 left!’ can be very effective.

Inventory displays can also generate the notion of being in the right place at the right time for visitors. There may only be 3 left, but at least they landed on your website before it sold out. Entering this limited window can create positive associations for customers.

Did you know that 76% of shoppers abandon their cart before completing their purchase? Displaying stock levels during the checkout phase can be very rewarding. By limiting the luxury of time, scarcity marketing can recover some of those lost transactions.


8. One-time Discount codes

Online shoppers spend a lot of time scouting the internet looking for the best deals on the things they love. Which is why stumbling upon discount codes makes the whole experience far more enjoyable. Everybody loves a good deal!

Leveraging the power of scarcity marketing, many eCommerce retailers are offering customers one-time offers with discount codes. Whether it be for first-time customers, or just rewarding the ones you already hold, this small incentive can be a great push.

A limited, single use discount code can make your customers feel that they are being rewarded, valued and special. Whilst also installing a sense of urgency through the limited window being offered.

Deliveroo - discount codes

Just last week I found myself ordering from Deliveroo after finding a discount card in the draw which expired the following day. I don’t usually order from Deliveroo to be honest, but a guy in the street was handing out cards with discount codes attached so I took one.

The though of losing out on ‘£10 off orders over £15’ was just too good to miss out on – I ended up spending way more than £15 anyway.

I felt almost obliged to take the offering once I knew that it would become obsolete the following day. And the generous offer has lead me to telling this story quite a few times.


9. ‘Best Seller’ Categories

A ‘Best Sellers’ category can be great additions to your eCommerce site, and is a proven way to create urgency with visitors.

Your Best Seller category will typically reside in your menu bar, and contain your most popular and sought-after items.

This section is effective because it gives of an impression of popularity and demand. If your brand has items that customers continuously return for, then it must be a worthwhile purchase, right?

It also suggests that the availability of these items is restricted. They’re popular staples, meaning they may be here today, but they’ll likely disappear tomorrow – until they’re restocked again of course.

Amazon best sellers

Amazon do a great job of displaying their popular items by showing their huge inventory in ‘best seller’ categories. They cleverly number the best sellers from 1-100 per category, allowing them to split stock into sections. This dis great for urgency, but also good for showing social proof.

Final word…

Scarcity marketing is essential in the fast-moving, entertainment-driven environments in which we shop today.

Creating an exclusive and limited feel on your eCommerce site can be very effective for boosting conversions and reducing cart abandonment.

If you’d like to find out more about implementing scarcity marketing tactics into your eCommerce website, you can learn more at Bunting.


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