Whenever something is sold and bought, apart from the rational processes, emotions and impulses play a decisive role. This is why sales psychology has a long tradition in retail. Understanding and applying purchase intentions and triggers is the core of this psychological discipline.

These tested methods and findings can also be used in e-commerce to get customers to convert and buy. In addition to various methods for conversion rate optimization, sales psychology is an important lever in e-commerce. Therefore, in this article we take a look at 5 psychological methods, that large online retailers use to sell more.

5 selected methods of sales psychology in e-commerce

Method 1: Use scarcity of products or limited availability

The classic among the methods of sales psychology is certainly to work with a limited number of products or availability. Because artificial scarcity creates pressure to act or FOMO (Fear of missing out)! However, to always display this information in real time more complex technical and logistical processes in the background are required, so that this information is always up-to-date and correct. Known characteristics of this method are formulations such as: "Only 3 in stock", "As long as stocks last" or "Save X% only today". This way you will create an urge to buy quickly and thus increase the probability of a quick purchase enormously.

Verkaufspsychologie - Begrenzte VerfügbarkeitScarcity creates stronger incentives to buy than abundance. This method of sales psychology is frequently used, especially in the B2C sector.

Another exciting application of limited availability are seasonal products. Ferrero is particularly known for its various seasonal products. Many products and their variations can only be bought for a limited time of the year (e.g. Kinder Surprise, Rocher, Mon Chéri etc.).

Many retailers also use seasonal products to increase their sales. Large retailer such as H&M, Walmart, Amazon or Sears always offer special autumn and winter products. The already existing buying interest and need of the customers is specifically addressed.

Method 2: Offer discounts & free giveaways

We humans are hunters and gatherers. This is no different with online shopping. Every one of us has already put something in the shopping cart, only because it was discounted. There are several ways to grant discounts: Offer a specific quantity of products at a lower price ("Buy 3, get 1 free"), display the difference between your price and the list price (recommended retail price from the manufacturer) or combine a discount with limited availability (see above).

If this discount then is emphasized with a red signal color, you will be able to generate a noticeable sales uplift with this method. A particularly good application can be observed in the online shop of C&A. Here the customers, if they have discounted products in their shopping cart, are additionally shown above how much they "save" with this purchase altogether. This is genius!

Verkaufspsychologie - Rabatte & GiveawaysBargain hunters can often be persuaded to make a purchase through discounts, giveaways or free samples. The feeling of having saved something or “free stuff” is very important to this persona.



When you ship your products after customers have completed your purchase, you could also include free giveaways. These have different effects. First of all, every customer enjoys something free of charge. This giveaway can also be a small sample of existing products. Thus, the customer tests a new product, which he also puts into the shopping basket next time, if he has a positive experience with it. That way, you create a win-win situation for the customer and your revenue in the mid-term.

This method of sales psychology is particularly effective in the B2C sector. Some good examples of this can be found in redpepper's Product Sampling Guide. The wholesale chain Costco can temporarily increase its sales by up to 200% through free food samples. This is because 81% of consumers are more likely to buy a product if they could try it free of charge beforehand. In the case of beauty products, a prior free sample of the product is even the fourth most important factor influencing purchase decisions. More important are only the factors buying experience, recommendation of friends or family and the price.

The giveaway method is used excellently at Douglas, for example. In their online shop, the user can select his free sample himself. The number of free samples is also linked to the shopping basket value. There is also the possibility of a surprise rehearsal. It would certainly be interesting to find out what percentage of users ultimately buy the tested product.

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Method 3: Reduce perceived risk & communicate security

When customers buy something, they want to be sure of it. They want to be convinced that they have made a good decision for a good product. In case of doubt, they also want to be able to return the products free of charge if they do not like them or if they are defective. In addition, a long warranty period is also important for many customers, as it reduces the perceived risk on the customer side. Pure sales psychology! 

Some customers are even willing to pay extra for a longer warranty (e.g. Apple Care Protection Plan or Best Buy’s Geek Protection Plan). A very extreme form of this is the lifetime guarantee. The outdoor brand Lands' End, for example, offers a lifetime guarantee with no ifs or buts. This shows the customers, that the manufacturer is also extremely convinced of the quality of his products.

Verkaufspsychologie - Sicherheit vermittelnCustomers buy more when they feel they are making the right decision. Therefore, tell your customers that buying from you is an excellent choice.

You can also convey security by communicating reliable and binding delivery times. This allows you to communicate a guaranteed delivery before the festive season during the Christmas and Boxing Day business. It is important, of course, that you comply with your delivery times. Therefor you should check your internal processes beforehand to make sure that you don't annoy or disappoint your customers with longer delivery times. 

Your shop should also handle all the customer data in a secure way. Make sure you have a valid SSL certificate installed! You should also pay close attention to processing payment and personal data according to data privacy as well as IT security laws and regulations.

Method 4: Building trust and authority

This is probably the method of sales psychology in our overview, that takes the most time and patience. On the one hand, you can become an authority in your industry with lots of good content and expertise. On the other hand, extraordinary commitment can build trust within your target group. Depending on your industry, niche and target group, there are countless possibilities.

Verkaufspsychologie - Autorität und Vertrauen aufbauenThrough an authority in your area, customers look up to you and are more likely to trust in your products or services.


Large (online) retailers and manufacturers are involved in various initiatives to address specific issues. This could be healthy food (Whole Foods) or fair production methods (e.g. the Fair Labor Association: Puma, Nike, Fruit of the Loom etc.). Through a serious commitment both trust and a certain authority in this area can be achieved.

Good test results and their effective public communication in the form of seals also build trust. Financial service providers such as insurance companies and banks rely very frequently on this method. Winning industry or innovation competitions can also help build trust and authority in your target audience. There are countless possibilities!


Methode 5: Social Proof nutzen

Social Proof refers to the phenomenon of people taking on the actions or positive opinions of others or including them in their decisions. This can be applied in different ways. Social Proof can, for example, be used in the form of reviews or recommendations of various kinds.

Many online stores use recommendations in modules such as "Customers who bought this item also bought" or "Frequently bought together". Another classic and well-known application, especially in the B2B environment, are testimonials of actual customers with name, company, position and photo. This looks authentic and the viewer can at best identify with the testimonials. Sales psychology par excellence!

Verkaufspsychologie - Social ProofMany customers think to themselves: "What others recommend or think is good can't be that bad." - that's the power of social proof.

The next level of testimonials is recommendation by celebrities who fit the target group. This form of recommendation is very effective depending on the selected celebrity and brand proximity. According to the Human Brand Index, an average celebrity testimonial increases buyer reach by 1.43%. Celebrities with many fans and sympathisers such as Jürgen Klopp or Barbara Schöneberger will (German celebrities), however, be able to generate significantly higher uplifts in the buyer's reach.

There are therefore entire product collections that are distributed in cooperation with international celebrities ("Yeezy" shoes from adidas with Kanye West, Karl Lagerfeld collection from H&M or TEFAL cooking pots from Jamie Oliver). Here the competence in one area (e.g. by star chef Jamie Oliver) is transferred to the product, in this case a cooking pot.

A new, modern possibility of social proofing is cooperation with influencers. Thus, there is a huge selection of influencers for each industry, target group or niche in the various social networks. Influencers have (even) a more credible effect on many people than celebrities, although influencers are now usually paid just as highly for product placement as some celebrities. Influencers not only raise awareness and reach, they can actually increase sales by up to $639,700

Do you want to get more revenue out of your web traffic? 
With situationalization by ODOSCOPE you can display the most relevant products to your customers in any situation. The result: revenue uplifts of 20% and more!

Request a Live Demo

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