Social Commerce Scarcity – The Scarcity Technique That Truly Works

It is commonly known that in most cases, one buys something based on psychology, and then justifies it later based on logic. Sellers who are effective in selling what they have to offer know this, and play it to their advantage. This does not mean that what is being sold isn’t worth it, or that the buyer is, in some sense, forced into buying. It just means that, in most cases, a buying decision is made at the spur of the moment, rather than within a thoroughly analyzed framework. This is particularly true in the online world, where the buying decision is just a “click” away.

So how is this accomplished? How do Sellers drive psychology into the minds of the buyer to influence a fast decision? There are a variety of techniques used, and one of the most influential of these is “scarcity”.

What exactly is “scarcity”? Think about it, what would you most want? It is what you cannot have or fear you cannot have. This is just how the human brain works. If you are given unlimited quantity of anything, you will soon lose interest in it, however valuable, pricey or tasty it might be. Pull it away after showcasing its value and you will go running after it, even if that supposed value isn’t truly there. Just the sheer power of losing out on something is the most powerful motivator of all.

Sellers have often used this very scarcity technique in the sales process for years, both offline and online. A variety of methods are applied here. Limited quantity of something makes you want it before it could run out of stock. Limited time availability of something makes you want it now, before that time runs out. And of-course a combination of these factors makes the scarcity even more prominent.

A technique that works is also showcasing sheer competition. Multiple parties interested in the same thing at the same time will always increase the value of the item for the fear that one might lose out on it if not grabbed in a timely fashion. Car salesman have successfully used this technique for years, where they always claim that someone else has shown an interest in purchasing and that if one desires to have it, the time is now. The famous “bidding war” concept isn’t any different.

Now, of-course in some cases, these are “real” reasons. Quantity might indeed be limited. The price might indeed hold only for a selected time. And competition might indeed exist. But that said, more often than not, these reasons aren’t always “really” real. This is most easily seen in the online world where you might find a seller offering an e-book download, and use the scarcity technique of “limited quantity”. Unless the server where the e-book is hosted on isn’t going to be available, or that the e-book would somehow self-destroy after the limited time, it is easily imaginable that this isn’t entirely “real” scarcity. It has been demonstrated that even this has shown to be effective in creating the “scarcity” fear in the minds of the interested buyer!

While the above techniques work and “could” be real, there is another method that always works. And that is what we call the “Social Commerce Scarcity”. We would even venture to not call this a technique or a method, for the reason that it isn’t. It is “actual” demand dictated “socially”. This is scarcity that cannot be easily faked and this is scarcity that is difficult to create artificially. This is next-generation scarcity that will dominate the new world where social media and e-commerce merge by way of Social Commerce.

Social Commerce Scarcity isn’t a technique. It is a natural outcome of what really works, where there is true value. Sellers benefit because when a service is consumed socially, and when based on reach, ratings, relation, reviews and recommendations, multiple users consume the service offering, showcasing that fulfilling it is indeed subject to scarcity is most believable. As an example, if one is to offer a service to create a logo, it is obvious that given the time available, the person offering the skill is limited by time as to how many logos can be created in a given timeframe. Showcasing that the person has 20 orders in queue creates that sense of scarcity to the next interested visitor that, for the sheer fear of losing out on being able to get the logo made, will be naturally tempted to place the order before the person takes down the offer, or adds a note that the delivery of new purchases will take longer. In the world where the person is offering the service within a framework of a Social Commerce Marketplace or a Social Commerce Platform, the person’s order queue isn’t artificially inflated, and is a true reflection of what “others” are socially consuming.

The world is fast moving to adopt commerce in a social framework. In the next generation e-commerce world where social e-commerce is set to dominate, Social Commerce Scarcity will work well for Sellers. And the best part is, unlike in the traditional scarcity world, Social Commerce Scarcity will work even better for Buyers – as Commerce really should be. Welcome Social Commerce!

The Four Areas of Social Commerce

What we’ve learned from two years of social commerce research is that if an insight is useful in one area of social commerce, it’s also usually useful and applicable in another.

That’s what the Internet is for. So a word of warning, if you are looking for a guide to select or deploy this or that social commerce application or technology-this is not where you’ll find it. Instead, this article is written to provide you with a set of insight-led guiding principles to help you unlock the sales potential of social media today and tomorrow-whatever the technology deployed. We’ve looked at what are working and what isn’t and used insights from sales psychology and social psychology to explain it, most notably drawing on the work of Dr. Robert Cialdini, a specialist in both fields. If you are familiar with Cialdini’s research, you’ll see that we are greatly indebted to his work.


Although the 20 secrets revealed in the social commerce are diverse and eclectic, two major themes emerge when they are viewed together. The first is that social commerce tends to work best when you are selling to a new breed of consumer-the “SOLOMO consumer,” i.e., people who shop smart with

1. SOcial
2. LOcation-aware
3. MObile technology

Consider the following:


23 percent: Online time people spend with social media-social networking is now the #1 online activities

86 percent: People who consult online reviews before buying; 90 percent trust the reviews they read

42 percent: Proportion of U.S. online adults who follow a retailer via Twitter, Facebook, YouTube or blog

6: The average number of brands or businesses people follow in social media

56 percent: Facebook users who have clicked through to a retailer website from a Facebook post

28 percent: Facebook users who have purchased something online via a link on Facebook

35 percent: People who would buy products on Facebook;

32 percent would do so as of Twitter

25 percent: Google searches done on the YouTube video sharing site; YouTube is the world’s second largest search engine

52 percent: People who share deals from local deal sites such as Groupon and LivingSocial

50 percent+: People more likely to buy from businesses they follow in social media

53 percent: People on Twitter who recommend companies and/or products in their Tweets

12: Degree of trust people have in shared consumers reviews compared to business-communicated information

90 percent: People trusting recommendations from people they know; 70 percent trust opinions of unknown users


300 percent: User growth of location-based services in 2010-services that have evolved from games to include deals, recommendations, and reviews

95 percent: Mobile users using their mobile devices to find local information; 88 percent take action based
on that information

70 percent: Online mobile users who use their mobile devices to help shopping in-store

47 percent: People who access customer reviews in-store via mobile devices

86 percent: People using the web to find local businesses: 20 percent+ of all Google searches have a local intent

78 percent: Mobile users who have purchased from a local deals site

76 percent: Smartphone owners who have made an in-store purchase based on information accessed from their phone

49 percent: Smartphone users who use their phones to get local promotions and coupons

45 percent: Online European consumers who have researched a product online and then bought it in a shop

Social Commerce – Are You Using it to the Maximum?

E-tailers are constantly searching for new ways to connect and build a long lasting relationship with their customers. However, a close examination reveals that they fail to use even the existing social commerce tools to the optimum.

A quick look at some e-commerce websites reveals desolate picture. Most of them have initiated community-building tools like forums, ratings, reviews and even blogs. Sadly, they suffer from want of active intervention from the e-tailer. The forums reveal sporadic participation, the ratings and reviews appear wanton and the blogs either are too verbose or carry only terse company news.

All of this reflects a lack of consistency and shallowness in their attempt to engage with their customers. Instead of running after the latest fad, they can maximise the usage of the existing tools.

Blogs, reviews and even ratings are still good enough to connect with customers and build a strong and lasting relationship. They are virile enough to build brands and provide an incentive to customers to revisit the e-commerce website.

If used innovatively, they can create the much sought after ‘seal of trust’ that will tip the scale in an e-commerce sites favour. All of these social technologies can improve customer experience and turn even a mild customer into a ranging brand advocate.

This is not to say that anything newfangled is worthless, instead this is an attempt to make an e-tailer understand the value of the tools he already posses. There is nothing wrong with integrating new social commerce tools, if it is used to the maximum. In addition, it may disorient a customer to find that the website he frequents replace one tool with another just for the sake of novelty.