Business & Information Systems Engineering

Document Type

Research Paper


Scarcity cues, which are increasingly implemented on e-commerce platforms, are known to impair cognitive processes and influence consumers’ decision-making by increasing perceived product value and purchase intention. Another feature present on e-commerce platforms are online consumer reviews (OCRs) which have become one of the most important information sources on e-commerce platforms in the last two decades. Nevertheless, little is known about how the presence of scarcity cues affects consumers’ processing of textual review information. Consequently, it is unclear whether OCRs can counteract the effects of scarcity or whether OCRs are neglected due to scarcity cues. To address this gap, this study examines the effects of limited-quantity scarcity cues on online purchase decisions when participants have the possibility to evaluate textual review information. The results of the experimental study indicate that scarcity lowers participants’ processing of textual review information. This in turn increases perceived product value and has considerable negative consequences for the final purchase decision if the scarcity cue is displayed next to a low-quality product. The study’s findings provide relevant insights and implications for e-commerce platforms and policymakers alike. In particular, it highlights that e-commerce platforms can easily (ab)use scarcity cues to reduce consumers’ processing of textual review information in order to increase the demand for low-quality products. Consequently, policymakers should be aware of this mechanism and consider potential countermeasures to protect consumers.