I was talking to a friend of mine, Sarah, the other day. Sarah runs an eStore on WooCommerce.
She happened to read an article on our blog about countdown timers and wanted my opinion on whether she needed one on her store.
As a store owner, she didn’t want to miss out on an opportunity to make more sales. (Don’t we all agree?!)
But her question of course was, how could a countdown timer lead to more sales?
The Curious Case of the Countdown Timer
“This tape will self-destruct in 5 seconds” – ring a bell? Mission Impossible, anyone?
Movies use this gimmick all the time to keep the audience hooked.
You see, there is a sort of urgency that a timer brings to the table; a call to attention certainly if not a call to action.
The consumer psychology is no different.
You’ll see this happening all the time in promotional email campaigns. “Sale from 23:00 to 06:00”. “Offer valid only for 3 days”.
Just ask Sarah; she’s been guilty of sending such emails herself.
Time-bound offers are proven to guarantee a high click rate. In fact, as store owners, adding a time-limit to sales or promotions comes as second nature to us.
But what you do not realize is that this strategy could be used on your store too, sans any offers.
Countdown Timers, a Cure for Procrastination
Shoppers tend to procrastinate and delay their buying decision. And as per a study by Centre de Recherche DMSP, these shoppers have a 73% less chance of making a purchase.
A timer triggers an impulse in shoppers; an impulse = a response.
It creates a need to act more urgently. And there’s proof.
An A/B test run by CXL showed that a countdown timer increased the conversion rate.
Variation B (with the countdown timer added) resulted in a 3x increase in conversion rate when compared to variation A (no timer).
Letting shoppers take their own time to make a buying decision is an obvious gap in the purchase process.
A timer can add that extra push.
But that’s not all. Timers can also be creatively used to:
- Drive more sales when you have limited stock or limited edition products
- Keep customers hooked when the stock is not available
- Create a general sense of FOMO
Let’s explore each of the above.
#1 Sell Limited Edition Products
Holiday or daily specials, seasonal products, limited edition items are available to purchase only for a specific time.
Customers need to be made aware that such products are available only for a limited time. And the availability of such products needs to be scheduled on your WooCommerce store.
A scheduling plugin can handle this task well. And the countdown timer that it adds, can indicate the time available to make a purchase.
#2 Keep Customers Interested
This is an ideal application for Sarah. Sarah runs a home-based business. One of her major challenges is meeting customer needs despite her limited stock.
When stock runs out, she’s left dealing with inquiries asking about the product availability, or worse yet, unhappy customers who’ve left her store.
What can she do about it?
Well, she can schedule when the product will be available next, and add a timer to let customers know of the same.
Coupling this with a ‘notify-me-when-the-product-is-available’ functionality can seal the deal.
Quite a simple solution, with an effective result.
#3 Bank on FoMO
Have you heard of FoMO? It’s the Fear of Missing Out – a pervasive fear that has a powerful effect on shoppers.
A timer creates a sense of scarcity. That the product might not be available if not purchased.
Adding a Countdown Timer to Your WooCommerce Store
If you haven’t figured it out already, a Countdown Timer is tied closely to the products on sale.
Hence you notice the option to schedule sale prices for a particular product, available on each product page itself.
When it comes to scheduling product availability, you’ll need to use an extension – WooCommerce Scheduler.
It works quite simply, allowing you to
- schedule the duration for product purchase
- add an indication when the product will be available next
- add a custom message if the product is not available
And yes…. it adds a pretty sleek timer on a scheduled product page.
Remember, Use a Countdown Timer Wisely
A timer can be aptly used to capture a shopper’s interest and drive sales.
But do take note, several other factors, such as the relevance of the product to the buyer, a distraction-free design, a strong value proposition, act as precursors to a timer being effective.
Again, don’t go overboard with adding timers. You might overwhelm a shopper. A timer is not needed for every product, but only when it’s appropriate.
Now, back to Sarah. So she did try adding a timer on her Woo store. And you guessed it! It worked quite well for her – pretty well. She was able to increase conversions by 17.6%.