Advertising Ecommerce Miscellaneous

The Pyschological Side of eCommerce

All of us visit supermarkets from time to time and we all tend to buy more than we intended to, even if we have a list. These impulsive purchases are usually products you don’t really need. “So I have bread, eggs, milk… and I’ll also take this chocolate bar and bag of chips.”

Why does it happen? That’s not only about you; it is also about the layout of products in a supermarket. Have you noticed that frequently bought products are situated in completely different aisles to make you look at some additional products while you are going from one aisle to another; or that there is a lot of tasty but unhealthy food near cashier desks so you can choose something you don’t really need while you are waiting in a queue? These layout tricks are used in supermarkets all over the world.

However, these days, the number of online purchases is constantly growing. Buying things online is easier and much faster. Moreover, we all have Smartphones so we can buy different products on the run. This makes many people prefer online shopping to going to supermarkets. But wait, online shops also use different techniques to influence buyer decision. I’ll share some of them in this post so you can use them in your store.

Creating a feeling of urgency

When a customer sees a product on a site, he doesn’t really know how many items are in stock, so it’s easy to make him think that the product will be sold out soon, especially if you, as a store owner, create a feeling of urgency. Here are some ways to achieve that.

Only X items left

You can inform customer how many items are left to show high demand of the product. For example, here is how 6pm does this job:


“Only three pairs? One of them must be mine!” — That is what a customer thinks while completing the order.

Only X hours left

This means you create time-sensitive offers which make customers hurry up. Here is an example from


It says the rooms are likely to be sold within 15 hours which means that they are highly demanded and you should make up your mind fast to reserve your spot. Actually, uses a bunch of tricks to create that feeling: they also display how many items (rooms in this case) are left as well as add special words and phrases (read on to learn about them).

One more type of such techniques is a countdown. It can be used either before the sale to let customers to prepare and add products to shopping carts; or during the sale to show how long people can have access to lower prices. Here is an example of such countdown from Aliexpress:


Special words and phrases

For example, you can use the following words:

  • Now
  • Immediately
  • Instant
  • Hurry up


This may seem too straight-forward but be sure, these words influence decision making because they suggest the buyer take action right away. You can always AB test call-to-actions to achieve best possible results.

Pricing Tricks

Decoy effect

If you sell subscriptions, you probably have a few plans to choose from. Usually, customers tend to make a rational choice between these offered options according to their goals and budget. If you give only two options, people tend to choose a cheaper one. But if you add one more pricing plan, the tendency will change. This is known as a decoy effect.

For example, you are selling a subscription for a magazine and offer these options:

  1. Web only – $30
  2. Web and Print – $50

In this scenario most customers will choose a Web only plan because it’s cheaper. But what if you add one more option? So your offered subscription plans will look like this:

  1. Web only – $30
  2. Print only – $50
  3. Web and Print – $50

The second option doesn’t seem attractive and will hardly be chosen by anyone but it still plays an important role of a “bridge” between options 1 and 3, making the latter seem a valuable choice.

Best choice effect

We’ll continue talking about subscriptions here. Have you noticed pricing plans on different sites? There is usually one highlighted option which shows a best or most popular choice.


Create an option that will be most profitable for you, highlight it with another color, badge, label or something like this and enjoy the results.

Social Proof

Social proof should never be underestimated. We are all social beings and we tend to choose things that other people choose, no matter whether we accept it or not.

To make use of social proof, you can add large numbers (orders count, number of customers, social shares, followers, etc.) and reviews.


The idea behind social proof is that if something is good for so many people, it should also be good for you, making the number of followers, reviews and other things you display really matter. But there is one important thing: these numbers should be real. What’s the point in having 100k followers on Twitter if 99 percent of them are fake?


According to Wikipedia, “gamification is the use of game thinking and game mechanics in non-game contexts to engage users in solving problems and increase users’ contributions.” This is a great technique to achieve better user engagement and increasing customers’ loyalty.

Gamification gives a person an opportunity to achieve something: a goal, get points, coupons, etc. that can generally be called rewards. When people are rewarded, it activates pleasure centers in the brain and gives positive feelings.

There are different examples of gamification, like mystery wheel, different reward points, badges, etc. You can choose one or more to implement in your store.


Summing up

As you can see, there are lots of tricks and marketing strategies to try in your online store. Don’t forget to AB test them to find best solutions. And, no matter what questions you ask, conversion rate is the answer.

About the author


Kristina Azarenko

Kristina Azarenko pays careful attention to the latest digital marketing trends while developing detailed strategies for site performance improvement and conversion optimization. She is a marketing manager and SEO specialist at Amasty, a company that develops high-quality Magento extensions that make the lives of Magento store owners easier.

1 Comment

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  • This is very enlightening to me. I have a new e-commerce client that I am working with and this will really help me.