How Can Scarcity Yield Conversions?

Chris Sams, May 4, 2018

Imagine you’re browsing through Amazon for your favorite product. You’re deciding if you should purchase the product or not when you see a message underneath the listing that reads ‘Only 1 left in stock’. What do you think happens next?

You immediately click on the ‘Buy Now’ option, make the payment and purchase the product. This is the impact scarcity has on consumer psyche. By telling you that there are only a limited number of items left in stock, sellers create a sense of urgency in customers; often pushing them to make purchases, which could have been postponed to a later date.

Scarcity is a popular marketing technique that helps improve sales and increase conversion rates. On websites, with the right colors, wording, and images, you can create a sense of scarcity and urgency, which can encourage your visitors to establish contact or make a purchase.

Ways scarcity improves conversions and sales

Scarcity reminds customers of the risk of not stocking up

When your customers see that your stock is limited, they are worried that they may not get the opportunity to purchase the product. This belief creates a high risk/low reward proposition for them. They would rather spend now and save themselves the trouble of not having the product tomorrow.

Scarcity increases competition amongst buyers

When you know that there are limited products at your disposal, every potential customer becomes a threat to your purchase plans and needs. To eliminate this competition, you’d prefer to purchase the scarce product in advance.

Scarcity creates urgency to act

If the advertisement indicates that there are only 2-3 items left in stock, there is a sense of panic that’s created in the minds of customers. This panic evokes an urgency to procure and store the product immediately.

Scarcity promotes saving

If customers are intimated that a scarcity situation may arise in the future, they are more likely to hoard a large quantity of the products for the future. This increases the potential for conversion.

Scarcity creates a perception of crisis

When people are told that something is scarce, they are more likely to accept anything the seller says and any terms he puts forth. The priority of the buyer now is to ensure that they don’t suffer the consequences of product scarcity.

Tips to effectively use scarcity to improve conversions

  • Scarcity only works when used occasionally. Never make the mistake of creating a perception of scarcity on a regular basis, as you may end up losing the goodwill of the consumer as they may catch on that you’re lying about the scarcity just to promote the sale.
  • Manage customer expectations when using the scarcity tactic by being open and clear about the offers you plan to give. Impose limits on the items you’ve declared scarce and price products fairly.
  • Never alienate your customers by implementing controlled roll-outs. If you’re declaring scarcity, then allow every customer the opportunity to purchase the product. Don’t use the ‘First 100 Only’ tactic here.
  • Don’t send too many mailers with the ‘Hurry’, ‘Buy Now’ and ‘Limited Offer’ subject lines as it may seem pushy and promotional to customers. Once a week should be fine; not once a day.
  • Implement color psychology on your website. Use more reds, yellows, and oranges when drafting pop-ups, newsletters, and messages. These colors encourage movement and reinforce the seriousness of the situation.


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