How to use countdown timers to increase sales (including examples!)

October 8, 2019


The clock's ticking: Black Friday is just around the corner and by the time it's over, shoppers will have spent billions of dollars on eCommerce stores all around the world.

Will some of that money be spent on your store?

That depends!

Will customers know they can buy one, get one half off for only another half a day? Or that free shipping won't be free forever? Only if you literally show them time is running out!

That's right. It's time to use timers.

There's nothing like a countdown to get people to feel major FOMO, and as a marketer, you can take advantage of that feeling to boost your sales.

Research published by the university of Nebraska suggests retailers can compel shoppers to make an immediate decision by creating a perception of scarcity.

It entices shoppers to buy now because they anticipate feeling regret later about missing a deal. This is true even if they know the scarcity is deliberately created by the retailer. 

Urgency can be key to getting customers to pull the trigger on a purchase.

We've discussed urgency before, but today we're going to focus solely on how to use countdown timers to drive home to your shoppers that they need to buy now.

Here are five examples of how to use timers to leverage the power of your deals. Start the count down in three... two.... one...

5. Count down the sale on every product

Putting a countdown timer next to every sale product reminds your shoppers that they only have a limited amount of time to get a deal on an item they've had their eye on. The example below from shows how it could look on your store.

Just be careful, depending on your site layout, it might look a little overcrowded. If that's the case, take a look at the next example!


Another technique LightInTheBox is using well here is compare at prices.

Showing the sale price and the original price is another tactic to help provoke sales. It's called compare at pricing or anchoring. Having a higher price next to one that's marked down makes the lower price seem instantly more desirable to shoppers, enticing them to buy.

4. Countdown banner for storewide sales

If you're putting on a storewide sale, make sure your shoppers know it's for a limited time only. As they add items to their cart, investing more and more time in their shopping session (and a bigger sense of anticipated regret if they abandon it), they'll see the clock counting down.

Boohoo used a banner, as pictured below, to compel shoppers by counting down the seconds until their 50% off sale was over.


You can easily create this type of sale and a countdown timer to go with it using this discount app. Yes, it's our app — but don't take our word for it! Discounts has over 700 five-star reviews on Shopify's app store.

3. A time-sensitive discount code

This is another great way motivate people to avoid FOMO and check out before it's too late.

Zaful did an awesome job of prominently displaying a discount code to entice people to take advantage of their Singles' Day sale. Who can resist $20-$50 off?


You could also use a countdown timer like this to tempt shoppers with free shipping when they spend a certain amount. 

Our Motivator app can help you do this, it even lets shopper know how much more they have to spend to earn a reward every time they add to their cart — another countdown, if you will!

2. Short countdown timers to offer discounts

Forever 21 used a countdown timer creatively here, with the clock positioned statically at the bottom of the page. It's not intruding on the shopper's experience, but it's right in their line of vision as they watch new items scroll from the bottom of the screen.

It's a steady reminder to them not to miss out on a deal.

But my favorite part about this is the short activation time.

The clock only gives shoppers ten minutes to activate the discount code. It's just long enough for them to find something they want to buy, but short enough to stir up some major FOMO.


1. Countdown timers in marketing emails

Putting a countdown timer in an email can deliver urgency straight to your customers' mailbox. 

That visualization reminds them a deal is for a limited time only and could prompt recipients to actually visit your store right away instead of saving it for lat

Check out some examples of emails with countdown timers here.


Try countdown timers today!

Ready to create urgency and scarcity, compelling people to buy? 

Do it with Bold Discounts! 

It helps you not only schedule promotions and display countdown timers, but also use compare at prices and sale flags.

Combine it with Bold Motivator, Bold Bundles, and other Bold apps to unleash the full potential of your store this Black Friday.

Have you used countdown timers before? Let us know how it worked for you in the comments below!

John Bruce

Written by John Bruce

John is a full-time copywriter, part-time boxing coach, and former cable-access host.

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