How Shopify sellers can leverage psychology and technology together

Many aspects of successful selling on Shopify are closely linked to sales psychology and technology. There are a myriad of different principles and models from psychology that break down the factors that influence purchase decisions. By understanding what motivates people to buy, you can better adjust your strategy for acquiring and retaining customers.

In today’s article, we’ll touch on ideas from psychology such as Dr. BJ Fogg’s Behavior Change Model and Robert Cialdini’s principles of persuasion. Plus, we’ll go through sales technologies, such as Shopify apps, AI, payment options and CRMs, that you can use to leverage these ideas practically.

Consumers want social proof and assurance

An idea that’s deeply rooted in psychology is social proof, one of Robert Cialdini’s principles of persuasion. Essentially, we look to the people around us to infer what to do. By mimicking others, we avoid shame and guilt. Not only do people look to friends and family for social proof, people look to previous customers, celebrities and influencers, experts and large groups.

Human behaviour and therefore purchase behaviour is driven by motivation, ability and triggers, according to psychologist Dr. BJ Fogg’s Behaviour Change Model. The promise of social acceptance is a key motivation for consumers and can be significantly emphasised by social proof strategies.

Practical ways you can use social proof to sell more on Shopify:

  • With two thirds of consumers trusting online opinions, give customers a strong incentive to leave reviews for your brand and products
  • Use an AI-based chatbot to encourage users with a positive experience to leave reviews
  • Install Shopify apps that help to display product reviews as well as external brand reviews
  • Engage with social media influencers or micro-celebrities to promote your products
  • Add a Best Sellers or Most Popular page to your Shopify store

Create a level of scarcity and urgency

Leveraging scarcity has been a tried and true marketing strategy for decades. By making a product seem limited, you increase its perceived value and create urgency. The fear of missing out drives people to make purchases that they otherwise might have passed on. Similarly, the more time someone has to consider a purchase, the more chances they have to decide against it.

Scarcity tactics to implement on your Shopify store:

  • Keep inventory levels artificially low on your sales channels, i.e. “Only 2 items remaining”
  • Offer unique products or product editions that are available for limited time such as seasonal items or items associated with holidays
  • Install Shopify apps that create urgency such as a countdown timer
  • Have sales or deals that last for a limited period of time

However, be aware that many smart consumers are well aware of scarcity tactics. It’s a great way to get first-time customers. However, if you have “Only 1 remaining!” for every product, all the time, and your sales never really end, customers will eventually realise that the urgency you’re creating is artificial. Make sure you change up the products that are limited and set a real deadline for limited deals.

People pay more attention to losses than gains

Going hand in hand with scarcity, loss aversion is a cognitive bias that highlights how people are more attracted to potential losses than comparable gains. Going back to the Behaviour Change Model, loss aversion creates a strong emotion that motivates action. A prime example of this is how people will jump on massive sales, even if they wouldn’t have bought the product otherwise.

How to leverage loss aversion on your Shopify store:

  • Display the original price (even if it’s artificial) next to the discounted price and show how much the savings are, i.e. “Save 25%” or “Save $57”
  • Offer free shipping for orders over a certain amount to encourage customers to buy more than they might have intended, i.e. “Get free shipping on orders over $100”

Offer a selected number of options on your Shopify store

Consumers can suffer decision-making paralysis when faced with choice overload. Though offering multiple options can be empowering, having too many options can lead consumers to feeling overwhelmed. Often, Shopify sellers go overboard with trying to offer a large range of products, particularly products that are very similar to each other.

How to make sure your Shopify store customers don’t suffer choice paralysis:

  • Emphasise a certain product over others such as a ‘Bestseller’, ‘Best value’ or ‘Recommended’ option
  • Make sure each product has distinct features that separates it from others
  • Use a business tracker to see which products perform the best at certain times and determine when to emphasise certain products over others

Decrease cart abandonment by reducing friction

The second part of the Behaviour Change Model is ability. Not only does ability encompass financial ability and knowledge about a product, it involves the time required to make the purchase. If a process looks too long, a customer’s ability goes down, hence reducing the likelihood of an order.

Cart abandonment is one of the largest issues that Shopify sellers face. Approximately 40% of people change their mind at the point of purchase, meaning the checkout process is make or break for retailers. By improving your store’s checkout experience, you can significantly decrease cart abandonment rates.

Ways to improve checkout rates on your Shopify store:

  • Allow customers to go through checkout without having to go through a lengthy sign up process
  • Add express checkout technologies such as Shop Pay, PayPal, Apple Pay and Google Pay
  • Offer multiple payment options, including buy now, pay later options
  • Take advantage of email automation technologies by setting up a cart abandonment message, i.e. “Did you forget something?” or “Where’d you go?”
  • Install a shipping extension that shows real-time information and/or make it easy to find delivery information
  • With 80% of consumers feeling more safe when seeing trustworthy card logos, display these clearly at checkout

Empower through personalisation and customisation

Empowering customers with a unique experience can improve their chances of making a purchase and returning. There are now technologies that enable you to provide personalised product recommendations and even personalised products. For instance, the latest generation of consumers want the ability to own one-of-a-kind products that they’ve designed on their own.

How you can add personalisation and customisation to your store:

  • With 45% of consumers more likely to shop on a site with personalised recommendations, a product recommendation app that uses AI to personalise suggestions can be extremely effective
  • Use quizzes to let customers become part of the product suggestion journey and use the data to to cross sell and upsell through an AI-based email marketing tool
  • Allow customers to customise products such as through allowing people to add texts or images to products

Prove that your products are low risk

On top of being loss averse, people are risk averse. When coming across a brand for the first time, there needs to be clear indicators that help consumers get a sense of trust. With e-commerce, people can’t see and feel products in the same way that they could in a brick-and-mortar store. However, there are still ways to show your brand is reliable.

How to build trust on your Shopify store:

  • Showcase reviews from real customers
  • Offer some type of guarantee or policy, i.e. 5-year guarantee or free returns
  • Implement augmented reality (AR) so that customers can try products, i.e. Allow customers to try on glasses via webcam or place furniture in their homes

Build a relationship through familiarity and reciprocity

Last but definitely not least, once you acquire customers, you want to do your best to build a relationship. The status quo bias is an idea that people tend to stick with what we know. Hence, the more a customer knows your business, the more likely they are to become a repeat customer.

Similarly, the idea of reciprocity, another one of Robert Cialdini’s principles of persuasion, suggests that if we give someone something, they feel obligated to give something in return. By combining these two ideas, Shopify sellers can create a strong bond with their customers, discouraging them from looking at other options.

Ways to build a relationship with your customers:

  • Use a CRM that employs AI to analyse customer sentiment and score leads
  • Integrate your CRM across your sales channels to build customer data and ensure a consistent customer experience, particularly for an omnichannel strategy
  • Integrate your CRM with marketing tools and use your customer data to build customised marketing campaigns, i.e. Targeted emails or remarketing through paid ads
  • Implement loyalty programs that reward customers for sticking with your brand
  • Consider a subscription model that allows customers to engage with your brand regularly
  • Offer samples or the ability to try before you buy

Final words on sales psychology for Shopify sellers

As a Shopify seller, understanding how psychology works and what triggers a purchase can help significantly in building your customer base. With the e-commerce industry growing rapidly over the past few years, there are now a range of sales technologies that allow you to leverage consumer psychology. It’s worthwhile to keep track of these innovations and consider what tactics might be right for your Shopify store.

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