Three Psychological Concepts That Drive Ecommerce Sales


Simon Davis

Psychology is one of the founding principles of marketing. Whether the decision to buy is an impulsive one or meticulously thought through, psychology plays an integral role in our determination of value.

Most people are surprised to learn an alarming number of factors come into play when we are shopping and how they impact our perceptions. These can include color, the time of day, what we were doing before we saw the item, words used to describe the product, other people’s opinions and much more.

Let’s take a deeper look at three psychological concepts that drive ecommerce sales.

Three Psychological Concepts That Drive Ecommerce SalesChunking

Offering a shopper too many choices will often result in that person choosing nothing. This is known as “analysis paralysis.” However, if you have a regular selection of 30 items, you can’t just remove 27 of them to narrow your customer’s choices. This would be a fatal blow to your business.

Which is where a psychological process called “chunking” comes into play. Instead of uploading 30 pictures of all of your products on your home page, place them into distinct categories, with navigational guidance to help your customer find them.

When you go into a grocery store, you’ll see a bakery, a deli, a produce section, a meat department and aisles upon aisles of strategically placed dry goods. Instead of placing items randomly throughout the store, grocers make finding what you need easier by chunking product into complementary categories.

This concept can translate directly to ecommerce. When you are creating your website, rather than simply sharing pictures of all the products you sell—place them into strategically developed categories.


When someone gives us something, we are often compelled to give them something in return—this is the foundation of the principle known as “reciprocity.” Have you ever gone to the store and received a free sample of product and ended up grabbing a box of the item because of the twinge of guilt you felt for trying the sample?

Obviously, this particular scenario doesn’t translate directly to ecommerce, as you can’t personally pay a visit to every single person who visits your storefront and hand deliver a sample. However, this psychological concept applies to ecommerce nonetheless.

Rather than providing the customer with a free gift before they make a purchase, pair an additional item alongside the original product. For example, if you sell your furniture online, you can offer a percentage off the total cost if the user buys lamps to go along with the end tables they purchase. Providing deals and discounts on complementing items is a great way to recreate the feeling of having received a gift.

Social Proof

A great marketer knows social proof is an essential part of any marketing plan. The method behind the madness is pretty simple: we are social creatures who tend to like things when we see other people liking them. It’s the psychological concept behind “keeping up with the Joneses.”

To capitalize on this, keep in mind anything showcasing the popularity of your website can trigger positive responses among shoppers. Do you get rave reviews on Yelp or other peer review websites? Feature them. Have you received long, loving emails from satisfied customers? Quote them. You can never have too much praise when it comes to touting your brand.

Since the very beginnings of commerce, marketers have been using psychological concepts to promote their products and position their brands. Take a lesson from them and apply these three psychological concepts to drive your ecommerce sales.


About the Author: Simon Davis has been a full-time business writer since the last 4 years and has had the privilege of attending some of the most renowned business conclaves held across the world. When not on business he loves spending time with his girlfriend and a bit of adventure sports. 


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