Scarcity can have a powerful effect on ecommerce sales. According to economics and social psychology, humans tend to place a higher value on objects that are hard to obtain or are not readily available. A 2013 study by researchers at the University of Nebraska found that retail stores that used perceived scarcity strategies caused psychological effects such as urgency to buy, consumer competitiveness and in-store hiding¹.

Shoppers are influenced by the availability or exclusivity of products. Introducing perceived scarcity to a store reduces the chances of them delaying their purchase decision.

Here are 6 ways to use scarcity to increase Shopify sales.

Display Low Stock Quantity

Showing the limited quantity of your products creates scarcity and increases the products’ perceived value. Let us assume a shopper visits your site and is thinking of buying a certain shoe. If he sees there are only two pairs of that shoe left that are in his size, he will probably order a pair quickly before those last two pairs are gone.

To describe the items left in stock, use words like “just” and “only” to instill urgency. Position the information about your inventory counter as close to the “Add to Cart” button as possible. That will help induce the fear of missing out and the need for immediate action.

Sell Limited Edition Items

Another great way to introduce scarcity is by selling limited edition items. You will have to show customers why the products are limited; otherwise, they will view them as regular items. Tell them the specific quantity you have to sell as opposed to what is left. Limited production products are more desirable among buyers because they offer exclusivity and make the owners feel special.

Give Seasonal Offers

Time is another limiting factor you can add to your products. Seasonal limited time offers help increase perceived scarcity and drive sales. That is one reason why Starbucks only sells pumpkin spice flavored beverages in the fall.

Allow select items to be available for a limited time period and inform shoppers of when you will be pulling them off the digital shelf, such as at the end of the month or the season. When customers know that a product is around for a limited period, they are more likely to purchase it quickly to avoid missing out.

Offer Flash Sales

You can also use flash sales to create urgency and scarcity. Offer your shoppers limited-time discounts on selected items. You can have a separate page where customers can keep up to date with the latest flash sales. Create a message on your landing page that asks visitors to check out your offers. Optimize the product page for the flash sale by displaying the sale price and the exact time and date when the sale will end.
Include a Countdown Timer to End of Sale

A countdown timer is one of the most effective ways of creating scarcity. The visualization it provides helps increase the perceived time scarcity of a sale. It gives the customer a firm grasp of the time remaining to make a purchase decision, adding a sense of urgency.

Create Shipping Countdowns

Countdown timers are also effective for shipping. You can offer next day shipping for customers who make a purchase before the timer lapses. Another good idea is offering free next day shipping for customers who order within a given period. The timer will serve as a constant reminder to visitors of your site that they will have to order soon to enjoy free and fast shipping. This will help increase the urgency to buy now.

A shipping timer is also useful during the holiday season. It shows those browsing your site when they have to place an order to have an item delivered by a particular holiday.

You should aim to get potential customers to purchase on their first visit to your website because it is highly unlikely visitors will return after the first visit even if they were extremely interested in purchasing your products. In a survey conducted by MarketingSherpa, ecommerce companies reported that only about 30% of their traffic was returning visitors.


In order to implement these features into your Shopify store, you can manually insert code in to your theme files or hire a developer to take care of it for you.

Alternatively, a tool like Ecomisoft’s Product Countdown app will help you convert first-time visitors by making them see constant scarcity and creating demand for your products. It has three different timer styles, and can show the number of products sold, the inventory left, the time and day a sale ends and any other custom messages you want.

The best part? This app is absolutely free!

Add it to your store today by visiting the Product Countdown app details page.



Matt Stefanik
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Matt Stefanik

CEO at Ecomisoft
Matt Stefanik, aka "The Lifestyle Architect™,"is a marketing expert, consultant, speaker, and lifelong entrepreneur. He has spoken at various marketing events around the world including in Atlanta, Cozumel, Tokyo, Las Vegas, Montreal, and London. Matt is the founder and CEO of Ecomisoft - an ecommerce software start-up, and Co-creator of GYMRATED™ - an ecommerce fitness brand.

In 2002, Matt dropped out of college, started his own real estate business, and 15 years later is still successfully self-employed.Matt is a husband, father of three, serial entrepreneur, and lover of comedy, craft beer, and The Ohio State Buckeyes.
Matt Stefanik
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