A New Way to Create Urgency and Social Proof on Product Pages

Just when you think you’ve seen it all, you stumble across a feature that makes you think “why didn’t I think of that”?

This time, it’s from antique and vintage marketplace Ruby Lane, which alerts shoppers when an item they are viewing is sitting in someone else’s cart or wishlist – suggesting they may miss out if they don’t act soon.

This tactic makes most sense when products exist in limited quantities, such as clearance and “last one” items. However, any business could display how many cart or wish lists a certain item is in as a form of social proof, as an alternative to showing Facebook Likes or Tweets.

Etsy does this by displaying a product’s admirers alongside social sharing buttons.

This can help fill the gaps if most of your products don’t have a bragworthy number of social shares from social networks. Use your own data!

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10 Responses to “A New Way to Create Urgency and Social Proof on Product Pages”

  1. This is indeed a very original way to create urgency, but especially in the case of clearance or “last one” items I wonder if it’s such a good idea. Creating more urgency also increases the risk of returns. For clearance/”last one” items this might mean the articles end up getting sold to people returning them later, while genuinely interested customers miss out and don’t come back. But, an interesting concept to experiment with nonetheless!

  2. Steven says:

    Booking.com have taken a similar approach with hotels during the past 12 months and it has been highly effective. In fact, when I’m browsing hotels, I notice the urgency pushes me to book quicker too!

  3. Ido Ariel says:

    This tactic can be very useful in cart abandonment emails,where creating sense of urgency is key. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Lee Brown says:

    I would like to see some evidence that this works. Another spin is that customers could be concerned that if they order they will miss out and the item will be out of stock anyway so they may not bother. I feel its much better to show actual stock available particularly when you have less than 10.

  5. Linda,

    Brilliant idea, two persuasion tactics working together: Social Proof boosted by Scarcity!

    And so simple. Like you wrote, “why didn’t I think of that?”


  6. Can this not be manipulated so that an alert comes up telling you that the product you are viewing is in someone else’s cart (when its not really) making you that you better purchase it before it goes out of stock? Basically what I mean is, wont companies just lie about their stock levels in order to increase impulse buys? because this seems like a really easy way to do this.

    • I suppose a company could do that if they are slimy, just like they could post fake glowing reviews on product pages, shill bid in auction marketplaces, write fake testimonials and steal security badge and award icons. All things that *some* companies do engage in, unfortunately.

  7. jrosell says:

    You need many users having products in their wishlists to have a big effect.
    I really like this concept ;)

  8. While this article focuses on urgency and social proof, take a look at the way this Ruby Lane product page is designed.

    1. Price is prominently displayed
    2. Add to Cart button is high on the page
    3. Shipping is handled before entering checkout
    4. The product description is near the hero shot (and well written)
    5. Several high-quality photos are provided.

    All are above the fold or close to it. Are you working this hard to help your visitors buy?

  9. I would make 2 UI tweaks to the “Urgency”:
    There are only X left and Y other shoppers have…
    and put the Add to Cart under this sentence.

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