4 things to avoid when using urgency in your Shopify store

5 min read
updated Oct 11, 2017
4 things to avoid when using urgency in your Shopify store

As I mentioned a couple of months ago, I was planning on building a computer for playing games.

I had spent hours researching the current landscape of computer parts and how to build a PC guides.

And at the end of my research I was left with one clear conclusion:

Building a gaming PC sounded like a lot of work.

So, I threw in the towel and decided to just buy one online. I searched around and found a great deal on a pre-built gaming PC similar to this one:

As you can see from the prominent countdown timers, this deal was going to expire soon. This created a sense of urgency around the sale.

So I snatched up this great deal before the clock ran out. And I got it for less than I could have built it myself. I was quite pleased with myself.

However, the next week when I was checking on my order, I couldn’t help but notice something odd.

They were running a suspiciously similar sale, with a completely new countdown timer.

While overall I was happy with my purchase, this overuse of urgency diminished the experience a bit for me.

In today’s post, I’d like to discuss 4 things to avoid when using urgency in your Shopify store. This will include:

  • Why you should use caution when using urgency
  • 1. Perpetual countdown timers
  • 2. Fake limited quantity
  • 3. Fake countdown timers
  • 4. Countdown timer overuse

Why you should use caution when using urgency

Urgency can be a great way to increase the sales of your Shopify store.

Why is this?

You see, urgency triggers the fear of missing out in your customers. Your customers are more likely to buy something now if they think the offer won’t be available next time.

However, there is a dark side to urgency. When done poorly, urgency can cause your customers to lose their trust in your store.

If your customers don’t trust you, you are unlikely to earn future repeat purchases from them. This can result in long term harm to your Shopify store.

1. Perpetual countdown timers

The perpetual countdown timer is like the sale that never ends.

This is similar to what I experienced when shopping for a new gaming PC. You can also find this technique in use at furniture stores with their never ending Going Out of Business sales.

The issue you run into with perpetual sales is a percentage of your customers will eventually discover this sale really is not a sale. This will lead to them no longer “buying it” and your perpetual countdown timers will not work as well.

2. Fake limited quantity

The fake low stock indicator is when you pretend an item is almost out of stock regardless of the actual inventory available.

This is also known as scarcity because it (supposedly) involves a limited availability.

You can see this in action here:

In this case, the store in question shows a random number of low inventory available. Then to kick it up a notch they make this number go down as if sales are happening while you watch.

This technique probably works better than it should. At least until the customers catch on.

This approach is one of the worst offenders of fake urgency because it involves lying to your customers. I would highly recommend avoiding this technique.

3. Fake countdown timers

The fake countdown timer involves showing a timer based on a fake deadline. This is similar in nature to the fake low stock indicator - but it uses a timer instead of the stock indicator.

The timer will typically be set to an arbitrary window which ends in the very near future as seen here:

Every person that visits this product page will get their own personal countdown timer. However, this timer is completely fake and there is no real time limitation or deadline involved.

This approach is also on my worst offenders list for fake urgency techniques because it involves misleading your customers.

4. Countdown timer overuse

Countdown timer overuse occurs when you put countdown timers in too many places in your store.

Unless you are running some type of auction site, showing more than one or two countdown timers at the same time can be a bit too much.

Why is this?

You see, by their very nature countdown timers will capture the eye of your customer as they move through your site.

In addition, countdown timers are also meant to convey a sense of urgency. If you are constantly making your customers feel like they need to hurry everywhere they go on your store, they may not want to stick around for long.

To avoid overuse of countdown timers, use them sparingly throughout your Shopify store. You may want experiment with restricting them to to specific sale sections within your store outside of side wide sales.

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Adding urgency to your Shopify store can be a great way to boost your Shopify sales.

Urgency can act as a powerful motivator to get your customers to buy now rather than miss out the sale.

However, urgency should be used sparingly and honestly through out your Shopify store. Otherwise, this can lead to losing the trust of your customers and ultimately hurt your chances for repeat business.

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