In today’s fast-paced world, we want everything to happen now, not later. Instant gratification is the name of the game. A Microsoft study found that the average attention span has fallen to eight seconds, so as marketers, we have precious little time to capture a person’s attention!

Once you have managed to get a shopper’s attention — such as by showing him a product he is interested in — you don’t want him to move on before he can complete a purchase. You can’t wait for him to come back (either on his own or through a combination of emails and retargeted advertising), because you have no way to know for sure that he will return or when he will lose interest. All you know is that he is on the site now.

One of the best ways to drive him toward a rapid conversion is to create a sense of urgency in real time. The key is to leverage data you already have to convey a sense of limited time and product scarcity to drive shoppers to make a purchase decision now. In this blog post, I’ll cover a few tactics you can leverage.

Limited Time

Ticking clocks and countdowns are ideal tactics to apply some pressure and create a feeling that time is winding down. Reminding shoppers that a product will not be available at a later date, or that the circumstances of their purchase may change, can encourage them to make a decision now rather than later.

If you know exactly how long a product will be available on the site, displaying a clock that counts down to that date or time is a no-brainer. But even if you do not know exactly how long a product will be available, you can create a countdown for anything that will change the circumstances of the purchase, such as a price change or the timing of delivery.

These are a few of the most common countdowns we see:

  1. Price changes: “Only 6 hours left to buy product at current price”
  2. Free shipping: “Free shipping available until 11:59 tonight!”
  3. Ship today: “If bought within the next 4 hours, the product will ship today” (such as in the image below)
  4. Delivery by specific date: “Three days left to ensure delivery before Christmas”
  5. Free gifts: “Order today and receive special gift with purchase”

drive urgency in e-commerce

The placement of these countdowns can vary. Put them on a PDP for a specific product, include them in pop-ups, remind shoppers of time limits via infobars — anything that will catch a shopper’s attention at the moment he is contemplating a purchase decision. And remember that you can always A/B test placements to maximize your purchase metrics.


Another way to drive urgency is to create a sense of scarcity for a product that someone is interested in, letting the shopper know that it may not be available when she returns. Noting that there are limited quantities available with a simple message such as “only 2 items left in stock” is the most obvious way to indicate scarcity. But when that isn’t an option, letting shoppers know that demand is high via creative badging is also a possibility.

Badging allows you to showcase relevant metrics for a product in real time. For example, in the image below, the retailer displays the number of visitors who have viewed each product on the category page that day. With this approach, the retailer is not only providing social proof to shoppers who are on the fence about purchasing, but also showcasing the product’s popularity and thus its high demand. When shoppers see that many others are looking at a product, they may be more willing to purchase now to avoid missing their chance if that product were to sell out.

social proof

The key to badging is to be creative with the metrics featured and the time windows used, particularly for sites with lower traffic. After all, it will not be very persuasive for a shopper to see that only one or two people have viewed the product recently. For sites with large volumes of traffic, the time window can be small: such as in the last hour, half hour, 10 minutes or even right now. For lower traffic sites, the number of views or purchases in the last hour, day or week can work just as well.

And the placement of badging can vary too. The example above shows badging on a category page, but badging can be included on PDPs, inside exit pop-ups — anywhere you have a product featured.  


Finally, incentives are the old standby to push a shopper to complete a purchase. In the example below, the site displays a product a shopper was highly engaged with during her current session in an exit pop-up, and it includes a modest discount incentive to nudge the shopper toward a conversion. It even takes it one step further by carrying that message throughout the site (and you’ll notice it even includes a countdown timer to indicate limited time!)

non-click behavioral data

Final Thoughts

With a combination of timers, badging, and incentives to promote limited time and scarcity, you can drive shoppers who are on the fence to complete the purchase right away — rather than wait until next time.

Don’t forget that personalization throughout the site can help shoppers find relevant products that they want to purchase in the first place! And it can be used to create individualized experiences that grow loyalty to keep shoppers coming back over the long-term. To discover how Evergage can help you facilitate product discovery and drive urgency on your own site, request a demo today.