Psychology of E-commerce Sales

Online Sales

Psychology of E-commerce Sales

About the Author:

Rubab Abbas Zaidi is a Tech-preneur who happens to lead a Digital Marketing and E-commerce enablement firm. She’s drawing upon her experience leading and executing technological and marketing projects in social, digital and e-commerce for many years. Her passion lies in discovering a way for her teams to combine their desire for innovation and creativity with the marketing pragmatism essential to deliver high-quality, short- and long-term results. In this guest blog, she discusses the psychology of e-commerce sales, and how you can make use of social proof or the “copycat effect” to increase e-commerce sales conversions.

Ever cruised Daraz, Souq or Amazon looking for a new deal or cosmetics or book but just couldn’t decide? Sure, the marketplace website gives us pretty much everything we need to make a choice — from product looks to product reviews to product summary to zoomed-in product views or actual glances at the first pages of the book — but with so many other options available, it’s so hard to narrow down an online purchase.

Subsequently, you see it: the “Top-selling products” or “Customers who viewed this, bought this…” section. Suddenly, your online purchase route is richer. For instance, if those customers liked that lipstick or book, you probably will, too. This, my buddies, is what we call the social default bias. Or, mostly, you’re a Copycat.

Now, the great irresistible majority of online customers like to think they can pretty much make up their own minds. But online statistics and survey studies show this is just not true. Of course, online buyers probably have some overwhelming liking and pretty strong feelings about products they have purchased and used before, but when it comes to a first- time buyers, they might need a little push or online nudge.

When does Copycat Effect Works Best

If an online buyer already has a pretty strong opinion on particular products, he or she will not care what other online buyers are doing. Though if the products are not well known or require particular knowledge or specific awareness before purchase — such as the lipstick or book example above — then online customers will look to others for guidance.

Those online buyers who plan to copy others usually don’t want others to see. In a brick-and-mortar store, they will probably wait until someone has made a product selection and are done with the order process. They will wait to move on before picking up the same product. Now, in an e-commerce online store situation, no one is actually looking. That means online buyers will be much more likely to allow social default bias to direct their online purchase selections and orders.

How to Make Social Proof grind in E-Commerce

psychology of e-commerce sales

You are probably already interested and aware of how much influence social proof has, but maybe you didn’t realize it could affect this much. Daraz, Ali Baba, Ali Express and Amazon has the right idea, showing buyers the products that similar customers love. You can apply something similar in a sidebar on your e-commerce site. Instead of connecting product suggestions for upselling or even cross-selling, just purely share your most popular products.

You can screen those products to fit the products, online buyers are searching, or you can just display the top purchases from 1 to 10. Just like the Amazon bestseller list, bestselling items prompt even more buyers to take a chance.

Adding customer reviews about the products on each product page on your e-commerce site is a great idea, too. That gives potential online buyers the chance to see which products are the most popular and why. When customers know why they have one more reason to catch their own when no one is looking.

Using Social Networks to Leverage the Copycat Effect

Social listening is another amazing way to make use of this specific online psychology phenomenon. Certainly, you have plenty of social media followers, but they don’t all follow each other. It’s okay to toot your own horn every now and then, a little bit. Daraz and Amazon let online buyers share a Facebook update or a tweet every time they make a purchase on the site. While you may not be able to include that feature on your e-commerce site, but you can seek out those who share or tweet or post anyway.


When you explore for your brand or products, find those who have amazing things to say and then re-post them. Like their Facebook statuses. Share their Instagram stories or LinkedIn posts. Re-gram their Instagram posts. When you do these little sharing things, your followers see what others are buying and start adding items to their wish lists.


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