Increase conversions by making items or offers appear limited

There are many ways to improve conversion rate optimisation; one technique is to create a perception of scarcity for your items that persuades visitors that they need to purchase. Effectively this means that the marketer uses any of a number of techniques to convince potential buyers that there are only a limited number of products left for purchase which, in turn, persuades the consumer to make a purchase. The technique is not meant to scare consumers but to persuade those that may remain undecided or may be wavering.

What Do We Mean By Scarcity?

Most products have are available only as a finite resource and once this resource has been spent, there are no more items available for purchase. In conversion rate optimisation we refer to scarcity in a similar fashion. Persuading a page visitor that there is only a very limited number of a product available means that, if they were unsure whether to buy at that time or not, they will be more likely to make that purchase.

How To Create The Perception Of Scarcity

Of course, scarcity doesn’t necessarily exist but it is possible to create it. Some retailers have mastered the art of showing scarcity and this has almost certainly helped them to increase their sales as a result. In this case, scarcity may exist but if you don’t highlight that it exists then your customers may continue to procrastinate. You can use the following techniques

Limited Stock

Virtually all of your items are available only in limited numbers, except perhaps digital downloads and digital products. Instead of playing your cards close to your chest regarding how many items you still have available why not display this information on your product page? Show that you only have three items left and it may persuade one, two, or three people to make that purchase.

Advanced Stock Limitation Display

That is only a basic example of how to show stock limitation on your ecommerce site. You can show how many items are left, how many people are viewing the item, and even how many of that item are available in a local store (assuming that you have physical stores of course). Even if you have 10 items left, if you show that 20 people are viewing that page then your visitors may act immediately to avoid being left behind.

Time Limits

You don’t necessarily have to limit the number of items you have and you could introduce a time limit. This can prove very beneficial for those retailers that sell digital products, of which there is typically no limit. Offer a discount to anybody that downloads a particular piece of software before midnight on Friday and this creates scarcity too.

Improve Conversion Rate Optimisation Through Scarcity Image


An auction is a great example of how scarcity can help make sales. The number of items and the time available are both scarce in auctions. Do test and trial auctions before jumping headfirst into this technique, though, or you may find that you are losing money on some of your auctions.


In some cases, the scarcity alone can prove enough to make a product more appealing. Consider high end and luxury items, and designer items. Rolex watches and Ferrari supercars are instantly appealing because there are so few of them creating a form of elitism with potential buyers. You can further enhance this elitism through shrewd content marketing and high end digital marketing campaigns too.

Why Scarcity Convinces Buyers, And A Word Of Caution

Many potential buyers may be stuck between deciding to purchase and actually making the purchase. They may have decided that they want a particular item but have not taken the final step of making the actual purchase and this is where scarcity can prove especially useful. If these wavering consumers determine that they may lose out on a product or an offer by hanging around then it could force their hand and persuade them to part with their money. However, don’t create scarcity where it doesn’t exist and be cautious over how you implement scarcity. Don’t make it scary, but do make it persuasive.

Create Conversions Through Scarcity

Scarcity can be a highly beneficial addition to help improve conversion rate optimisation. It can lead to additional and increased sales. It can provide you with additional sales and therefore increase your profits. Consider adding time limited offers for digital items, experiment with auctions, and display the number of items you have as well as information that further intimates at the scarcity of that product.

Contact us for help on implementing these conversion rate optimisation techniques and creating a sense of scarcity in your consumers.

Tagged with →