The Hidden Truth Behind Shopify Fake Sales Notification


Trust is a crucial currency for online shoppers. 

Customer reviews, purchase history, and genuine interactions build trust and inform buying decisions.

However, deceptive practices can quickly erode this trust, just like the research highlighting the prevalence of fake online reviews (INFORMS journal Marketing Science, 2022). One such deceptive tactic that plagues the online shopping experience is the use of fake sales notifications.

These notifications mimic genuine sales events, often displaying inflated original prices and dramatic discounts to create a sense of urgency and entice customers. While the short-term allure of boosted sales might be tempting, relying on fake sales notifications is a risky strategy with long-term consequences.

Major brands understand the power of genuine social proof, strategically leveraging customer reviews and purchase activity throughout their marketing. Similarly, eCommerce giants like Amazon display authentic customer feedback for every product they sell.

Fake social proof apps and phoney reviews might seem like a tempting shortcut for new businesses, a way to “hack the system” and create an illusion of popularity. However, this approach is ultimately unsustainable and can backfire spectacularly. Building a successful Shopify store hinges on trust and transparency. 

Let’s explore why fake sales notifications can be detrimental to your business and discover how ethical sales communication can foster trust and create long-term customer loyalty.

Understanding Sales Notifications

1. Definition of Sales Notifications​

Sales notifications are real-time alerts that inform visitors about recent activities on an eCommerce store, such as purchases, product reviews, or sign-ups. These notifications typically appear as small pop-ups on the website, showcasing the actions of other customers. Their primary role in eCommerce is to create a sense of urgency and social proof, which can influence potential buyers’ decisions and enhance the overall shopping experience.

2. Types of Sales Notifications​

Real Sales NotificationsReal Sales Notifications
– These are genuine alerts based on actual customer activities.
– For instance, when a customer makes a purchase, a notification is triggered and displayed to other visitors.
– Real sales notifications are highly effective in building trust and credibility, as they reflect authentic interactions on the site.
– These are simulated alerts designed to mimic real customer activities.
– They are often used by new or smaller businesses that may not have a high volume of sales yet.
– While they can create a sense of urgency and social proof, it’s crucial to use them ethically to avoid misleading customers.

3. Purpose of Sales Notifications​

The primary purpose of sales notifications is to leverage social proof to influence potential buyers. Here are some key benefits:

Building Trust: Seeing that other customers are actively engaging with the store can build trust and credibility. It reassures potential buyers that the store is legitimate and popular.

Encouraging Purchases: Sales notifications create a sense of urgency by showing that products are in demand. This can prompt visitors to make quicker purchasing decisions to avoid missing out.

Enhancing User Experience: Real-time notifications can make the shopping experience more dynamic and interactive, keeping visitors engaged and informed about the latest activities on the site.

Boosting Conversions: By showcasing recent purchases and customer interactions, sales notifications can drive conversions and increase sales, especially when combined with other marketing strategies.

The Temptation of Fake Sale Notifications

The temptation to “fake it till you make it” is strong when you are new to Shopify. No established brand, no reviews – it’s a competitive landscape. Fake sales notifications beckon, a shortcut to popularity and sales. But like most shortcuts, they come with hidden costs. Let’s explore the reasons merchants consider them and the temporary gains they offer.

1. Why Merchants Use Fake Notifications

Desperation for Sales Volume: New businesses often struggle to establish a customer base and generate consistent sales. Fake sales notifications, with their inflated discounts and sense of urgency, can create a temporary boost in traffic and conversions.

Misguided Trust-Building: Some merchants might believe that displaying fake sales will make their store appear more active and desirable, attracting customers who equate popularity with trustworthiness. However, this approach backfires when customers discover the deception.

Fear of Missing Out: Fake sales notifications prey on the fear of missing out (FOMO) mentality. The illusion of limited-time deals and dwindling stock can pressure customers into impulsive purchases, even for products they might not have otherwise considered.

2. Short-Term Benefits

Increased Site Activity: Fake sales notifications can grab attention and lead to a temporary increase in website traffic. However, this traffic often consists of bargain hunters who may not become loyal customers.

Perceived Popularity: The illusion of a busy store with ongoing sales might create a perception of popularity and attract new customers. However, this false image crumbles once the truth about fake notifications is revealed.

Quick Sales Spike: The urgency created by fake discounts can lead to a temporary spike in sales. However, this is often a one-time gain, as customers who feel deceived are unlikely to return.

The Risks and Consequences of Using Fake Sales Notifications

The initial urge to use fake sales notifications might feel strong. The promise of a quick boost in sales and a surge of website traffic can be undeniably appealing, especially for new businesses struggling to gain traction. However, before diving headfirst into this deceptive strategy, it’s crucial to understand the significant risks involved.

Let’s shift gears and explore the potential pitfalls of fake sales notifications, from the erosion of customer trust to the very real legal implications. By understanding these consequences, you can make an informed decision about building your business on a foundation of honesty and transparency.

1. Loss of Trust

Fake sales notifications, similar to phony influencers, manipulative design elements (dark patterns), and fake reviews, can trigger a negative reaction from customers.

Broken Promises: Customers rely on advertised discounts. When these discounts are fabricated, customers feel cheated and deceived. This breeds resentment and discourages them from returning.

Brand Image Tarnished: Fake sales notifications paint a dishonest picture of your brand. Customers begin to question the legitimacy of your products and overall business practices.

Negative Reviews and Word-of-Mouth: Disgruntled customers are vocal. Negative online reviews and word-of-mouth spread quickly, damaging your brand reputation and deterring potential customers.

This might have been the case with Beeketing’s social proof app for Shopify stores. An investigation by LittleData in August 2019 compared conversion rates of nearly 1,000 Shopify stores, some using Beeketing’s apps and others not.

Interestingly, stores using the app had a slightly lower median conversion rate (0.2%) compared to those without it in July 2019. This suggests that customers might not trust the notifications generated by the app, especially when compared to the positive results typically achieved by genuine social proof apps.

Using fake sales notifications is not just an ethical issue; it also carries significant legal risks. Regulatory bodies like the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in the United States have strict guidelines against deceptive marketing practices. Here are some potential legal consequences:

Penalties and Fines: Businesses found guilty of deceptive practices can face substantial fines and penalties. The FTC has the authority to impose financial penalties on companies that engage in misleading advertising.

Lawsuits: Deceptive practices can also lead to lawsuits from consumers or competitors. Legal battles can be costly and time-consuming, further damaging the business’s financial health and reputation.

Regulatory Scrutiny: Once a business is flagged for deceptive practices, it may come under increased scrutiny from regulatory bodies. This can lead to more frequent audits and a higher risk of future penalties

3. Case Study: Fashion Nova and the FTC (2023)

Fashion Nova and the FTC

Fashion Nova, a prominent online clothing retailer, faced scrutiny from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in 2023 for deceptive review practices. The FTC alleged that Fashion Nova intentionally blocked negative reviews from being posted on its website, creating a misleading impression of customer satisfaction.

The FTC investigation revealed that Fashion Nova employed a filtering system that prevented negative reviews from being published. This practice resulted in an artificially inflated portrayal of customer satisfaction, potentially influencing purchasing decisions.

Impact and Consequences

This deceptive strategy not only eroded customer trust but also violated fair advertising regulations. The FTC launched a consumer redress program, allowing customers who purchased items at Fashion Nova between 2016 and 2020 to file claims for refunds. This action highlights the potential consequences of employing deceptive marketing tactics.

Relevance to Fake Sales Notifications

While the Fashion Nova case centered on manipulating customer reviews, it serves as a valuable case study for understanding the potential ramifications of deceptive practices in eCommerce. Just like fake reviews create a false sense of popularity, fake sales notifications mislead customers with fabricated discounts and inflated prices. Both tactics erode trust and can lead to legal repercussions from regulatory bodies like the FTC.

Lessons Learned

The Fashion Nova case underscores the importance of transparency and ethical marketing practices in the online retail space. Building trust with customers is crucial for long-term success. This case study serves as a cautionary tale for businesses considering deceptive tactics like fake sales notifications. The potential consequences – damaged reputation, financial penalties, and loss of customer loyalty – far outweigh any short-term gains.

How to Display Shopify Sales Notification Pop-ups

You can easily create these cool sales notification pop-ups is simpler than ever with the SnapNoti app. This app allows you to customize your notification message whether it’s low stock alerts, visitors or coupon boxs. Alright! Here’s how you can do it in just a few minutes:

1️⃣ Install SnapNoti: Begin by installing the SnapNoti app from the Shopify App Store.

shopify app store

2️⃣ Activate SnapNoti: Once installed, activate SnapNoti on your store’s themes. This ensures that the app can integrate seamlessly with your site.

3️⃣ Select Notification Type: Choose the type of notification you want to display. SnapNoti offers various options, including Floating Notifications, Discount Notifications, and Abandoned Cart Flashing Tabs. Select the one that best suits your needs.

how to display sales notification pop-up

4️⃣ Customize Your Notification:

  • Layout: Configure the layout by setting visit counts or visit lists and selecting a color template that matches your brand.
  • Content: Customize the notification message, add a timestamp, average time, and any other relevant data.
  • Display: Decide on which pages you want the notification to appear.
  • Behavior: Set the behavior of the pop-up, such as displaying a close button and timing for when it should appear and disappear.

how to show Shopify sales notification pop-up

5️⃣ Finalize and Check: Once all settings are configured, finalize the notification. Ensure it displays correctly on your site by performing a quick check.

Shopify sales notification pop-up

Now you know how to create authentic and effective sales notification pop-ups for your Shopify store. With SnapNoti, you can keep track of built-in analytics to maximize the efficiency of your campaigns.

Scenario Analysis

1. Who Should Use Fake Sales Notifications

If you are new to Shopify or have been operating for a while without seeing significant sales, you might consider using fake sales notifications for a short period, particularly during high-traffic seasons such as Black Friday, Cyber Monday, or Christmas because those can bring a surge of online shoppers looking for deals and unique products.

Using fake sales notifications during these periods can help your store capture the attention of these potential customers. The increased traffic means more eyes on your notifications, potentially leading to higher engagement and sales.

During high-traffic seasons, shoppers are often in a hurry to snag the best deals before they run out. Fake sales notifications can create a sense of urgency and fear of missing out (FOMO). When customers see that others are buying, they may feel compelled to make a purchase quickly to avoid missing out on popular items.

For a new store, establishing credibility can be challenging. Fake sales notifications can give the impression that your store is popular and trusted by other shoppers. This perceived credibility can help overcome initial skepticism and encourage more visitors to make a purchase.

However, the most significant long-term risk is losing customer trust.

What is the takeaway?

  • Limited Timeframe: Consider a very brief promotional period during these high-demand seasons, like a flash sale lasting a few hours or a single-day “Cyber Monday Surprise.” The shorter the timeframe, the less likely it is for customers to get suspicious.
  • Transparency is Key: Even with a limited-time “sale,” avoid manipulating original prices or using misleading language. Focus on genuine discounts and highlight the limited availability to create a sense of urgency.
  • Focus on Building Trust and Value: High-traffic seasons are a golden opportunity to showcase your brand and its value proposition to a wider audience. Develop genuine promotions that stand out, offer exceptional customer service, and aim to convert those holiday shoppers into loyal, long-term customers. This approach might not deliver the instant gratification of fake sales, but it’s a sustainable path to success on Shopify.

2. Who Should Not Use Fake Sales Notifications

There are many types of businesses that should not use this strategy, such as Established Brands, Businesses in Regulated Industries, Stores with High Customer Engagement, Businesses Focused on Long-Term Growth, and Stores with High-Value Products. I will name one type of industry as an example to analyze why they should not use fake sales notifications: a Shopify store focused on building a sustainable, long-term business.

Besides all the reasons above about the risks and consequences of using fake sales notifications, I will also highlight the positive outcomes of using genuine methods.

Positive Outcomes of Using Genuine Methods

  • Long-Term Customer Loyalty: By focusing on genuine methods, EcoGrove can build long-term customer loyalty. Customers who trust the brand are more likely to return for future purchases and recommend the store to others.
  • Solid Brand Reputation: Maintaining ethical practices and transparency helps EcoGrove build a solid brand reputation. A strong reputation attracts new customers and fosters positive word-of-mouth, contributing to sustainable business growth.
  • Increased Customer Engagement: Authentic social proof and real customer interactions increase engagement on the website and social media platforms. Engaged customers are more likely to interact with the brand, share their experiences, and become brand advocates.
  • Compliance and Peace of Mind: By adhering to ethical marketing practices, EcoGrove avoids legal issues and penalties. This ensures peace of mind and allows the business to focus on growth and innovation.

Shopify Fake Social Proof: A Better Alternative

Challenges in Obtaining Real Social Proof

For new and struggling Shopify merchants, acquiring genuine social proof can feel like climbing a mountain. Here’s a breakdown of the key challenges they face:

  • The Catch-22: It’s a classic dilemma. New businesses lack the initial sales volume and customer base to generate organic social proof – reviews, user-generated content, etc. Without these trust signals, convincing new customers to buy becomes an uphill battle. It’s a cycle that can be tough to break.
  • The Review Enigma: Encouraging customers to leave reviews can be like pulling teeth. Busy shoppers often prioritize completing their purchase over sharing their experience. Crafting a review request strategy that’s both effective and unobtrusive takes effort.
  • The Inevitable Negative Review: Building a positive reputation takes time, and even the most stellar businesses encounter negative reviews. The challenge lies in learning to manage these situations constructively. Responding promptly and professionally can turn a negative into an opportunity to showcase your commitment to customer satisfaction.

Alternative Strategies for Building Credibility

Skip the Fake Sales: Forget tricking customers with fake discounts! Building trust is way better in the long run. Even small things like being honest can make a big difference. Here’s how to build a good reputation with your customers:

  • Focus on Quality Products and Customer Service: Delivering exceptional products and prioritizing excellent customer service is the foundation of trust. Satisfied customers are more likely to leave positive reviews and recommend your brand to others.
  • Highlight Existing Testimonials: If you have any existing positive reviews or customer testimonials, showcase them prominently on your product pages and website.
  • Leverage Social Media Engagement: Actively engage with your audience on social media platforms. Respond to comments and messages promptly, showcase user-generated content, and participate in relevant conversations. This fosters a sense of community and builds trust.
  • Offer Loyalty Programs and Incentives: Rewarding customers for purchases and encouraging them to leave reviews with loyalty points or small discounts can incentivize participation.
  • Partner with Micro-Influencers: Collaborate with relevant micro-influencers who resonate with your target audience. Genuine endorsements from these individuals can create authentic social proof.
  • Utilize Trustpilot or Similar Platforms: Consider integrating a platform like Trustpilot into your website. These services allow customers to leave verified reviews, building trust and transparency

Read More: 7 Shopify Sales Notification Pop-Ups That Trigger The Psychology of FOMO Instantly


Building a sustainable business on Shopify requires a commitment to ethical practices. Focus on delivering exceptional customer service, offering high-quality products, and showcasing genuine promotions. Utilize alternative strategies to build social proof, like encouraging real customer reviews and leveraging user-generated content.

Remember, a loyal customer base built on trust is far more valuable than a short-term bump in sales fueled by deception. Choose the path that leads to long-term success – choose honesty and transparency.


1. What Are Fake Sale Notifications on Shopify?

Fake sale notifications are artificial alerts or pop-ups created by some Shopify stores to simulate customer activity, such as recent purchases or items in high demand, when in reality, these events haven’t occurred.

While they aim to create urgency and boost sales by leveraging the FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) effect, they can mislead shoppers and erode trust in the long term by presenting a distorted view of a store’s popularity or the scarcity of its products.

2. With fake sale notifications becoming more common, how can I identify them to ensure I’m making informed purchasing decisions on Shopify stores?

Identifying fake sale notifications can be challenging, but there are a few signs to look out for:

  • Repetition: If you notice that the same notifications keep appearing with identical information, they might be fake.
  • Too Good to Be True: Extremely high discounts or offers that seem too good to be true may be associated with fake notifications.
  • Lack of Details: Genuine notifications often include specific details like the buyer’s location or the product purchased. Vague notifications might be a red flag.
  • Research: Look for reviews or feedback about the store on external platforms to gauge its credibility and whether others have flagged fake notifications.

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