• Two Ways to Combat Consumer Paralysis

    The conventional wisdom is that the more choice consumers have, the more likely they are to find one that works and make a purchase. The good news for ecommerce websites is, with no shelf space to maintain, they have a distinct advantage over their bricks and mortar counterparts in offering more options.

    But a lot has been written about the potentially paralyzing effect on customers of too much choice, and it can happen for many of reasons:

    • Fatigue from reviewing and assessing all the options
    • Concern about which choice is absolutely best for them
    • Apprehension that they are getting the best value
    • Frustration that they can’t make a decision even though they have so much choice

    In a well-known study of consumer behaviour, Sheena Iyengaar, author of “The Art of Choosing”, and her team set up a booth of jams for passersby to sample. Every few hours, they changed the number jams offered; either 24 or six. The result: the larger display attracted 50% more customers, but the smaller display sold six times more jam.

    Combating Choice Paralysis

    While one study is not definitive, there is enough evidence of “choice paralysis” to make it a concern for all retailers. So what can you do to counteract the potentially sales-smothering effect of too many options? Especially when the obvious answer, reduce the number of products you offer, isn’t really an option? Here’s two suggestions:

    3M Results
    1. Restructure Your Options – At last count, Best Buy offers 226 different televisions for sale. But take a look at their TV landing page (see below). There are six models visible above the fold, all of them sale items.But the most important part of the landing page is the left-side column, where shoppers have the ability to narrow their search based on a variety of criteria , including “Screen Size”, “Brand” and “Price Range”. At no time is a shopper faced with 226 options.
    2. Give Your Customers the Information They Need to Make a Decision – Everyone likes a bargain, or what’s most popular, or what’s highest rated. Given the choice of a number of similar products, most shoppers will choose the one that has sold the most, or the one that provides the best value or the one that has the highest customer satisfaction rating.But they need that information before they can make the decision, if not: potential paralysis.Take a look at the frame-grab from the eBay homepage below. Customers are very quickly presented with “Daily Deals” (perception of best value), “Bestsellers” (most popular) and Product Review data (highest rated).

    There’s many other ways to help consumers process their options or make a selection, including product badging, highlighting and featuring. What works for you depends on your offer, but the important thing is to minimize your customers’ concerns and the hurdles they have to jump to make a purchase.

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