15 ways psychology can boost ecommerce sales

It’s not always easy for an ecommerce business to gain new customers, especially when it’s struggling to understand the needs of its audience.

Learning more about the purchasing habits of the consumers, along with the psychology that makes them buy a product, may be very helpful and effective for every business looking to increase its sales.

What makes a customer buy a specific product with no second thought and how does a brand affect the purchasing decision through psychological triggers?

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Image by Gerd Altmann, CC0

How to get into the consumer’s mind

Psychology allows a business to understand the thoughts of its users while shopping and even a few tweaks to a site may boost its sales.

Human beings may be complex, but there is still a pattern of reactions to psychological triggers that can be analysed, in order to help a business get into the consumer’s mind.

This allows a business to provide its consumers exactly what they are looking for, making the shopping process easier.

Here are 15 examples on how psychology blends with ecommerce sales:

Urgency

The sense of urgency makes a customer speed up the purchase process, without leaving time for second thoughts or further research.

Whether in use of language, or features like countdowns, it is still one of the most effective psychological triggers and that’s what makes it popular among many sites.

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Amazon relies on the trigger of urgency to promote its daily deals, by showcasing the reduced price right after the original one, while the countdown is used to speed up the consumer’s decision to claim this offer.

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It’s a valuable technique, but shouldn’t be over-used as customers may learn to ignore it over time.

Reciprocation

Consumers like to feel appreciated by a brand and trust may be an important factor for them to choose one site over another.

Thus, it’s always a good idea to remind how your business thanks its customers, whether it’s free shipping, a gift along with the first purchase, or a free trial.

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One by Made mattress has dedicated a space on its page to reassure its customers with their ‘promises’.

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Glasses Direct offers to send out up to four frames so that customers can try before they buy.

The retailer is showing plenty of trust in the customer by sending these frames out without payment, while also solving a barrier to buying glasses online – the ability to try before you buy.

In theory, customers will respect and reciprocate this trust.

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Scarcity

It is very common for ecommerce sites to inform the users about the products that are running low on stock, as another way to make them hurry up and purchase the specific product as soon as possible.

This is a popular method that is widely used in many different ways and the results are usually very successful.asos1It’s interesting to consider the place each site indicates the low stock, as even this detail may affect the number of sales this psychological trigger brings.greats

Like urgency, this tactic should be based on genuine information for customers to trust the messages.

Implemented well, you’re telling customers that they need to move fast to secure their favoured items. Overdo it and they’ll take no notice.

Social proof

The domination of social media in our lives has changed our thinking when buying a new product, with social proof being more important than ever.

Social validation, whether it’s from an expert or other consumers, can provide that extra piece of information that persuades customers to buy.

It tells them:

  • Other customers have bought from the site and are happy.
  • Other customers rate the product you’re thinking of buying.

For example, One by Made mattress features user reviews from customers to make the consumer feel closer to the product.

It’s interesting to notice that the site even featured a review mentioning a smell problem, in a way to prove that the reviews are realistic, listing both the advantages and the disadvantages of the purchase.Screen Shot 2016-03-04 at 13.34.16

It’s not all about reviews, social proof can be shown in other ways. For example, AO.com shows the number of Facebook likes it has earned.

For a company which is perhaps not as well-known as other electrical retailers like Curry’s, this helps to establish its credentials to the potential customer.

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Influence

Influence is relevant to social proof and it derives from the rising trend of trusting the so-called influencers – people who tend to affect our purchasing decisions with their reviews, or even their approval of a product.guessFashion bloggers enjoy their popularity and they may even turn their passion into a profession by collaborating with ecommerce sites to promote products and brands.

As users are more comfortable with trusting people, rather than brands, influencers serve as the ambassadors that make a purchasing decision easier.eastpak

Storytelling

Storytelling has turned out to be very effective for a brand, especially when it expands to the brand’s culture and perspective.

TOMS shoes is among the brands that excel in storytelling, by combining marketing with contributions for a good cause.

It became popular with its “One by One” project, which is a great way to encourage you to buy a product, and it now expands to the support of many different causes, in order to help consumers find the cause they’d be happy to support.

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Moleskine is another case of successful storytelling that became part of the brand’s culture, as it aims to differentiates its products from the rest.

By reminding us that their products have been used by Pablo Picasso and Ernest Hemingway among others, so it hopes to make the consumers feel creative, unique, sophisticated and important.

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Commitment/ loyalty

Users love the idea of commitment, provided that it is promoted in an appropriate way to persuade them to further engage with a brand.

It is important to make the first step of commitment appealing to them, in a way that the objective (and the possible offer) is clear and the process as easy as possible.

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The question for Puravida is clear and direct and the consumer is asked to decide whether it’s an interesting offer to consider.

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Use of imagery

It’s true that an image is worth a thousand words and it may be worth even more when it’s appealing and creative.

IKEA for example heavily relies on high quality images which help the consumers desire the products even more.

The use of imagery here helps customers to visualise what the products can do to their kitchens and bedrooms.

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Pricing

Many ecommerce sites offer a price range for the featured products and it has been observed that three is the magic number of success for a page.

Psychology tends to make the user ignore the lowest price, while the idea of offering more than three options would end up being overwhelming, with the danger of paralysing the user’s decision.

Think of it, once you’re ready to purchase a product, you’re suddenly more willing to upgrade at a higher price, without necessarily considering it at first, or even needing it.

Apple may be among the best examples for this psychological trigger, as loyalty makes it even harder to resist to an upgraded (and more expensive) Apple product.

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Make customers feel special

It’s always a great idea for a brand to create a personal feel and make customers feel unique.

A few tweaks on the site, or even a clever signup message (like the one by GREATS) may be enough to change a consumer’s opinion about a brand.

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Less is more

Minimalism may be helpful for consumers, since it shows that the brand understands that heavy websites and distractions are not helpful for the user.

Thus, simplicity both in design and user experience are appreciated by consumers and help them trust a brand for further purchases.

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Providing key information

An ecommerce site that provides details of its products helps consumers get a better idea of them, by answering their questions and offering them all the required information they need to proceed to a purchase.

Screen Shot 2016-03-03 at 17.24.38 herschel (click and get inside look)Easy purchasing process

Simplicity, along with minimalism, is always useful, especially when it’s also combined with easily understood design which favours a fast purchasing process.

Users are not willing to waste time to understand a site’s design in order to purchase a product and that’s why a brand should also minimise customer doubt in any possible way.

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If the purchase process is easy, then customers don’t feel like they’re making an effort. Provide this kind of experience and people are more likely to buy.

Provide incentives to buy more

Once a user decides to buy a product from an ecommerce site, it’s time to increase the level of engagement and build up loyalty.

Whether it’s a referral program, which encourages users to use their rewards to buy new products, or an additional suggestion of products, which relies on the relevance of past purchases, users are more willing to consider further purchases once they are happy about their first order.

And this is still relevant to psychology, customer satisfaction and the right use of triggers that will keep the consumers hooked to the brand’s site.

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What affects your purchasing decisions?

Not every user is affected by the same psychological triggers and here’s proof of it.

See the two examples below and notice the several methods they are using to motivate the user to purchase one of the products.

What captures your attention first?

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Which of these triggers work better for you in order to encourage you to buy any of these products?

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