Making the Ecommerce Experience Stressful  On Purpose

So, I get the idea of creating a sense of urgency around ecommerce purchases.

Really. I do.

But this morning I stumbled on what is quite possibly the most STRESSFUL ecommerce promotion I’ve ever experienced on a Swedish online retail site called Papercut. I thought I would share it with you as a clear example of what stressful ecommerce feels like and then give you my thoughts on why this sort of tactic is ineffective.

How the “Promotion” Works

In this limited time offer promotion, site visitors have exactly four seconds–yes, 4 seconds–to decide whether they want to purchase the item shown at a special price before it is wiped away and the item is no longer available for that price.

Each visitor is shown 15 items in rapid succession, and to make matters worse, there’s this maniacal music playing in the background. The music picks up speed as the clock ticks down and when it is all said and done, the site rewards you with the following message:

The Most Stressful Ecommerce Site Promotion Ive Ever Seen Final Message

(Nice, huh?)

You only get to see the promotion once (presumably based on IP address).

So, I’m guessing you want to see it for yourself. Okay, but don’t say I didn’t warn you. Just remember, you can only watch it once.

Okay, go ahead.

Then come back here so we talk about how NOT to frustrate your ecommerce visitors.

The site: SpeedSale.Se

Why It Doesn’t Work

So, now that you’ve seen the promotion in question, I have to ask:

How are you feeling?

Inexplicably tense?

A little frustrated, maybe?

I went in knowing the premise of the promotion and found myself completely frustrated when it was over. (Quite honestly, had I not been thinking about blogging about the experience, I would have abandoned the site pretty quickly. The music was enough to drive me bananas.)

I found that the speed at which I had to determine whether I wanted the item was one issue, but the other was that I wasn’t often able to discern WHAT the item was with enough time to make the purchase–even when the items were titled in English. I found that the movement of the items on and off the screen and often ill-placed price call outs left me guessing until the product switched just as my brain recognized the item being offered.

Ecommerce Promotional Lessons to Be Learned

  • Timing is everything. Maybe you should allow your customers a little more than 4 seconds to make a buying decision, unless your goal is to tease them with a price, but limit the number of actual purcases at the sale price. (Note that this practice could increase your bounce rate by annoying your visitors.)
  • Limit distractions. I found the “sweep” motion to clear the screen to be distracting–perhaps another tactic to limit actual purchases at the low sale price. Regardless, if you want your promotion to be successful, try to limit distractions.
  • One language at a time. If your titles are in English, make the pricing stickers in dollars. (I think I spent most of my 4 seconds on each product wondering if 399 Kronor was a good price for the DVD set I was looking at.) Or all in Swedish. Just pick one. Or let your customer choose before starting their speed shopping.

Want to learn more about creating robust consumer-focused promotions? Download our white paper Increasing the Cart – Creating a Personalized Online Shopping Experience.